I have been with A HOPE for over a year now. I started out fostering, and that quickly moved into volunteering as I realized how much more help was needed in this field.
One of the first big things I did with A HOPE was helping Brandi (president of A HOPE) and Tina (our Trap-Neuter-Return coordinator) trap some community cats at a local couple’s home. These two were the sweetest people, but they got themselves into a mess.
An example of the traps we use to catch community cats for TNR.
It started like it always does with everyone: one day a cute cat shows up in their yard, and they feed it. A few days later, this particular cat brought back a few cute kittens, and the cycle began. The couple reached out for help, they took any sick cats to the vet, and even paid to have a lot of them fixed at a vet's office (and we all know how pricey that gets).
This was not an issue where they were not trying or they turned their heads at what was happening. This was an issue of lack of resources and lack of education on animal welfare in Santa Rosa County. If Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) was pushed in this county or if we had low-cost spay/neuter options, this situation could’ve been avoided.
This couple’s love for these cats blew me away. They had around 90 outside cats that ranged in age from kittens to around 10 years old. Each cat had a name, each cat had a story. They knew what these cats liked, their personalities, who they hung out with, and even their family trees. I have never seen a group of outside cats more well-fed, more loved, or more spoiled than this group here.
Before coming to us, the couple had been turned down or discouraged by other groups they reached out to. It was obvious that they were very apprehensive of us at first. They were not sure if they could trust us.
For over a week, we were out there almost every night getting ready to trap all the cats. It was great to see the couple slowly let their guard down as they started to realize that we weren’t like other organizations, that we were truly there to help them. We wanted them to keep their cats, we wanted their cats healthy, and we wanted them not reproducing, which was all this couple wanted, as well.
Once we were done trapping and all the cats were fixed, it was amazing to see how we helped this family. They not only got the help they needed -- they got the education they didn’t know they needed, too. By advocating for TNR, they can now help others in similar situations or help prevent others from getting into the same situation they were in.
Seeing this firsthand is hard to explain. The need for a low-cost clinic in Santa Rosa County is so great. I am truly honored and excited to be part of a group that is bringing change to this community.
TNR education is an often overlooked but vitally important part of what we do at A HOPE. Even if we were able to save all the cats and kittens on the streets by ourselves, that wouldn’t be enough. We have to change people's mindsets. We have to offer support so everyone in our community can step up and help the needy animals around them, just like this couple did.