Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hassles: rescue organizations and vets

Val, my dear Vet pal, speak up anytime. I am criticizing some things relating to your profession; I'm being honest, but don't want to step on your toes. You might say I've just been lucky, but I think I've been a judicious pet owner.

I am finding these rescue organizations' applications and contracts annoying.

Found one contract yesterday saying they could inspect at any time and if the cat isn't up on vaccinations, they'll charge $250 or the cost of vaccination, whichever is greater, then take the cat. Yesterday, I cited one that had a similar $700 fee. You'll see why this concept is ridiculous in a bit.

First, though, when I feed and vet a cat, I consider it mine, not on loan from a rescue organization. I don't care for Big Brother to breathe down my neck. If they want to hover, then I would put them to work and make the litter box their responsibility.

I think I am entirely too Libertarian to use a rescue outfit again. Memph came from one, but theirs only had provision about vet care at the time of adoption, not down the line or in a threatening way. Come to think of it, they didn't even follow up with me about the initial vetting. I would use them again, but their animals are in cages at pet stores, so nothing is known about their personalities, i.e. Memph seemed so friendly and attentive, but we all know his best friend is the underside of my bed. I guess that's the difference; once an animal is put into foster care, the rescue org feels like they own it and just put it out on loan.

Another application I read yesterday really bothered me. It asked if you'd be willing to spend _____$100 _____$200 _____$500+ on a vet bill, with a couple lines for "Why?" if you wouldn't spend $500. This is obnoxious, telling me how to spend my money, and the answers do not necessarily represent outcome.

I'll give an example with Sad!e. She was alert but frothy and woozy one evening when she was almost 16.5 yo. I took her to the ER Vet thinking she'd had a mild stroke. The vet took blood for kidney failure and thyroid problems, plus did UA, but all later came back fine, so it was a mild stroke. The vet wanted to hold her for observation overnight, but I said I could not afford it, so we made a phone date for the next morning. I guess it cost around $125, because the vet kindly waived her fees of about the same amount; Sadie did get on an antibiotic and steroid. By the next morning, Sad!e, who thrived in her own home like cats do, had already followed me up and down the stairs and was just about her old self.

The vet, who was in shock at my old lady's progress, said we needed to work on fluids, said usually they'd go the in house IV route, but they'd show me sub-cutaneous means the next day, if need be, to save money at home. To avoid that, I opened a can of tuna, squeezed out the water, and my parched cat lapped it up over the day. Again, the vet was shocked and I think she added tuna water to her repertoire for when cats won't drink. I appreciated the vet so much for supporting me in going low tech at home.

Do you think my cat would have thrived more if she'd have stayed in the hospital on IV? No. Would I have been a better cat owner if I had thrown more bucks at her? No. I shudder to think what the whole shebang would have cost. It definitely would have put me in that $500 column, but that wouldn't have offered a superior outcome.

About eight months later, Sad!e was diagnosed with renal insufficiency, the gray area on the way to renal failure, which takes many cats. She was put on two daily meds and I was told to bring her in monthly for blood work, which would run something like $75-100/mo. Instead, I took her in every six months or so when the script needed refills; monthly monitoring would have provided useless feedback, because there wasn't much you could do for the cat beyond sub-cutaneous fluids and I could tell by her behavior how she was feeling. She lived almost two years after her diagnosis, the vast majority of it quite happy and healthy with little interference.

Again, I didn't throw a heap of money at Sad!e, but still had a satisfying outcome.

They're pets and you do the best for them, but there are lots of definitions of best. I don't want a rescue org defining what my best should be.

Now if $500 came easily to me, fine. However, I fail to see the logic in going in the hole to treat a suffering and dying animal. And if the animal isn't in that dire of a condition, then compromises can be made.

This leads me to an article from ever-trusted Slate: But Doc, the Dog's Already Dead! How to say no to your vet, by Emily Yoffe (Slate's ever wise Dear Prudence). Read it, especially the Lyme's Disease part (there are crooks in every field); I'm going to excerpt a different part. I would like to read Busby's book, How To Afford Veterinary Care Without Mortgaging the Kids. Here is what the vet says about vaccines. (Emphasis added.)

Busby also rails against the useless procedures foisted on healthy animals. Take yearly vaccinations. He writes, "[A]lmost all veterinarians insist on repeating these vaccinations over and over again throughout the life of the pet. Never forget how often they need to be given to you or your kids. ONCE!!!" Busby says that after the essential shots and boosters for puppies and kittens are completed, pets enjoy the same lifelong immunity humans do. (Legal requirements force more frequent rabies shots.) He points out unnecessary treatments are not necessarily benign because the treatments themselves can cause side effects. I know. My wonderful cat Shlomo died at age 16 because I followed the yearly vaccination recommendations. A component of the feline leukemia vaccine caused an injection-site cancer. (For a thorough discussion of the problem with pet overvaccination, see
See, even vaccines are bogus and a rip off, not to mention a health hazard. Why should a rescue organization force me to throw money at something useless, plus put my animal at risk of cancer? And then penalize me if I don't? Again, there are many levels of best.

To be honest, I do not know why cats they insist stay indoors need shots anyway. The "in case they get out" part doesn't hold water. If that were truly the case, they'd require tags and microchipping. Instead, I think it is a racket, manipulating pet owners into something unnecessary which then hangs over their heads as an excuse to take the animal.

My goal, of course, isn't to put vets out of business, but I need to be a customer with a brain, not a money machine spewing at needless interventions. Although Sad!e's ER vet really worked with me, it's as if pet owners are treated the same way that health insurers are: eh? they'll pay out of obligation so the test will be ordered and the procedure performed, regardless of need. That's how Sad!e's regular vet treated Sad!e, them wanting monthly testing. The prevailing philosophy of vets and rescue organizations seems to be to shame the owner into forking over the bucks in the name of health and sentimentality. The problem is the pet owners aren't bottomless pits like insurance companies are viewed and I, for one, resent being considered a bad pet owner or a poor prospect by a rescue organization if I choose to not spend my money on things that are generally fluff.

Although my cats are members of the family, eat premium food, are treated with the utmost in low tech care (i.e., Sad!e's pills, K gel, sub-q fluids, special food), and loved wholeheartedly, I don't forget they're cats who I am treating like children.

With my son never getting sick, I don't think he's been to the pediatrician in 2.5 years. Am I being irresponsible if he doesn't need to go? Will I be fined $700 by someone?

Why are cats being elevated higher than my kid?

It's just no wonder so many animals are in these rescue organizations.


DD said...

Living rurally certainly has it's advantages. If we wanted a cat or a dog, I just need to check my paper for give aways.

This all just reminds me of the time I researched finding a cat to meet my high-maintenance asthma. I really wanted to enjoy a pet and was willing to fork over several hundred dollars for a hairless sphinx. When I called the breeder she asked if I had allergies and I told her yes. "We don't sell our cats to people with allergies!" she rudely informed me. WTF?

Plus they have similar care stips: if they find out that you've declawed the cat, they will take it back. And then what do you think they do with that animal that they believe has been "ruined"? Most of the time, they destroy it. So the owner loses a pet, and the pet loses it's life. Yep. That's fair.

Anonymous said...

You know Cricket,society will put a child in foster care and pay no attention to it, unless something happens like death. Or the courts will give a child back to a mother who beats it after consueling, without ever checking on it again, unless it dies.
Then you have the crazed animal groups like you mention.
Too many insane rules.
Too bad they do not put that kind of effort into the children of our society as much as animals.
Bet, the place would be a whole not nicer.
Have you tried the Humane Society in your area?

Cricket said...

Yup, declawing is another rule. It's something I wouldn't do, so I didn't mention it. I was not aware of the "ruined" part. That is truly scary.

Even the HSUS and SPCA have stupid rules. I refuse to do a home study for a cat and they both require a visit, like most of the others. Way stupid to me. Too many rules. It makes me paranoid like military scrutiny. I'm not so good with rules. And you're right about kids.

Nikki Neurotic said...

We've adopted a few dogs, but only one for the SPCA...all the others have been from people that we know that just can't handle being a pet owner. It's probably the best thing, and keeps the animal away from those animal shelters where they might very well be put to sleep because they can't find an owner that matches their "stringent" standards.

The one dog we did adopt from the SPCA though, it was a painless process. They paid to have her fixed and I don't recall anyone ever checking up on us. However, I had a family member attempt to adopt from them and they refused them as they were about to move.

Val said...

That's OK hon -- no offense taken!
The problem is that rescue organizations in many cases are run by LAY ZEALOTS -- I know we place no conditions on the pets we adopt out from my clinic, other than that they don't leave my threshold w/out being spayed or neutered...
DD has a great idea; what about checking Thrifty Nickle or other classifieds for "Free to a Good Home", private individual adoption?
Not enough time/space to get into a vacc/standard of care debate now, but after years of OVERvaccination, the pendulum does seem to be returning to center...

Cricket said...

I've been checking Craigs.list for a few days. That's how I got Spence last Spring. I feel like I have to be very careful and not get dumped on. Two days ago, I missed posts on two appropriate kittens, emailed yesterday, but haven't heard back, so I guess they're gone. I called about one last night, but it wasn't fixed, had no shots, and terrorized her older cat - not what I need.

When I'm at the computer, I refresh the site every few minutes.

Aunt Becky said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly. The organization I worked with (fostering cats) in my home was quite absurd when it came to interrogating people who wanted to adopt their animals. It got insane, the lengths they would go to not to adopt to people.

I'm all for doing a simple background check to make sure people weren't going to abuse these animals, I don't support animal abuse AT ALL. But COME ON.

Good luck, Miss Cricket.

brite69 said...

Wow. I adopted 2 of the 5 at the local humane society and didn't have any problems. Well, whenI adopted Baby, I got a letter in the mail about needing to get her fixed and I thought they were gonna repossess her if I didn't do it in a certain time frame. Luckily, I was able to get it done with in a week of that letter and I never heard anything again. Mydna came from the same place and they remembered me from the year (maybe year and a half) prior when I got Baby and the same rules applied. Mydna went to the vet within a couple of days like they wanted (first visit free with both cats), but I have yet to get her fixed due to finances. (They DO provide a $50 coupon to contribute, which cuts down the price, but still... Money sucks round here) I haven't heard anything from them about her at all, so I'm guessing I'm in the clear?

All 5 cats are exclusively indoors. The ONLY time they go outside is to go to the vet, which the two youngest ones haven't been to yet. Baby and Mydna had some shots, but Squeak has NEVER had any and she's perfectly fine. So are the two babies. Since they don't go outside, I don't really see the need to get them fixed, other than they won't get on my nerves when they're in heat.

I don't think I'd pass muster with a home inspection. My housekeeping used to be awesome, but in the last year or so, I've fallen behind due to my medical bullshit. I'd hate to think that someone could come into my house and tell me that I couldn't give a loving home to a kitty cuzz I suck at housekeeping.

Anonymous said...

Our local Humane Society, where my mom go her rescue dog (from Puerto Rico) is not known for their...generosity. By that, I mean their 'rules' are, imo, silly at best. Frex, if you adopt an animal from them who is sick, and then dies, you are then banned from ever adopting from them again.

But, you say, it was sick when I took it in! Doesn't matter, the fact that the animal died is still your fault. Next!

Don't even get me started on Animal Control...

Well-heeled mom said...

When we took our dear Boots, and then Itty to the vet for the first time, we were grilled about why we wouldn't do blood tests for feline leukemia. I asked why? It's not as though we wouldn't treat them if they got sick. We just didn't see the sense in knowing they might be susceptible to the disease. I, too, think the vaccinations are overkill and I'll deal with that battle soon with our dogs and cat at the vet.

Well-heeled mom said...

Oh, and apparently cats are hot commodities. There have been but a few free ads and they are gone within a day.

Anonymous said...

the only experience I had with a rescue agency was when I tried to place my cat through them.

We had a cat that was feral. We kept her for 12 years even though she was mean almost continually to every human being that came within reach. and I mean really really mean.

I kept that cat away from my first baby. When he became a toddler he learned for himself to give her a wide berth.

When my second child was born and became a toddler I began to see the cat become even more stressed and aggressive.

I called a cat rescue number to see if they could help me find a new home for her. I explained what had been going on and the woman actually berated me for deciding to give my cat away saying something like "Owning a pet is forever!"

Really? So, I should have chosen the cat over my children's safety? It wasn't like I had made a flightly or light hearted decision. I called that woman crying about having to give up a cat that had never once sat on my lap or allowed me to pet it for almost 10 years without taking a swipe at my hand. Or face!

I sort of gave up on the rescue concept at that point.

Anonymous said...

Our Humane Society here in California makes you pay for shots, spaying ,etc. but no home visits at all.
Noone would bother to adopt them I think.