I have been involved in welfare since shortly after beginning in the veterinary field in 1997. Since that time I have helped people find homes for their pets, rescued many off of the streets, fostered, spay/neuter clinics, community outreach, come up with original fundraising items, covered stories for rescues and shelters, witten a book about the welfare world and much more.
But, during most of that time I was lucky enough to have access to resources most people do not. I had all the veterinary help I needed: cages to hold animals, wholesale costs...and so on. When I wanted to pull an animal off of the street I could do so easily and without the urgency that most people experience when trapping, etc. I could take the time to work with an animal who may not have been immediately adoptable, and when ready, find a good home.
So, as I sat on the ground in my neighbors yard a few hours ago, listening to her tell me how to use a new and fancy trap, I felt somewhat embarassed. But, also amazed at what the woman knew and how much she does for the cats in our community. The few roaming around while we talked were reminders of just how dedicated she is.
I found myself eagerly absorbing all the directions and information she gave me and a little nervous about what I was about to do. After all, it was my first time actually using a real trap instead of patiently stalking as I have often done. The cat to be rescued is a very, very pregnant girl who suddenly showed up down the hill from me in my apt complex and is living in the gutters among the cars. I have been feeding her on a schedule the last 10 days to get her used to me and a time to be fed...just so I could catch her. Of course, none of the other million people who actually live by her were going to do anything.
As I crawled under the bush, trying to avoid the sharp dried holly leaves from poking further holes in my knees, I spotted the perfect place for the trap. When done I called her and, of course, she did not appear. Nothing is that easy for me. After a few moments of waiting I knew she would not come so I decided to walk the block and come back.
About half an hour later I arrived back at the bush and saw a flicker of paws pacing back and forth and a smile broke out across my face. Success! Well, to my surprise the cat staring at me was not my girl but a big Tom Boy, and he was not happy. The feeling of success quickly changed to, oh crap, what now!?
So, I called the woman and told her that I did indeed have a cat, but it was not the one I wanted. To my surprise, she said no problem, they all need to be fixed, so bring him up. And so I did. The very large hill seemed even more difficult to hike up as I attempted to carry the trap and a heavy, very upset cat in the afternoon heat. By the time I got to her house, both the cat and I were panting. I put him under the shaded table and sat next to him. We both looked at each other and I told him I was sorry, but it was for the best.
Tomorrow I try for the girl and hope that she has not yet had her babies. Tonight I go to bed with a new appreciation of trappers and their plight. We all have things to learn...