Dispelling Camp Fire Misconceptions
By Audra Murphy
Soapbox moment: pardon me if I have said this before, but the questions keep getting asked and I want to clarify the subject. As most of you know, I am managing the FieldHaven Recovery Center for cats pulled out of the ruins of the Camp Fire. At the recovery center, our goal is to get these cats reunited with their owners. That’s why we are there every day busting out butts. We live for the reunions and when one happens, it’s like nothing else on Earth.
Inevitably everyday, I get asked the one question that really gets me heated. That question is regarding adoption. Most people will accept my answer when I explain we are not an adoption venue, but some argue, “I heard so and so was already adopting out their cats,” “I know someone who adopted a fire cat,” or “But these cats have been here and their owners haven’t looked so they don’t even want them.” That really gets me fired up.
To answer some of these statements: We are not other agencies, we will work on our own timeline and that timeline isn’t about moving cats through as fast as possible it is about getting cats back into the loving arms of their parents. Anyone can trap and house cats. Heck, there is proof everywhere you look, but at FieldHaven, we are about making the lives of the cats in our care better, not worse. We provide for their physical and mental well being. Besides food and water and housing, we provide vet care, enrichment, and love.
If you know someone who adopted a fire cat, then chances are that cat was surrendered by it’s owners because they’ve lost absolutely everything they had on Earth. That choice is theirs to make and I will not be the person who takes away the only thing they have left. If they make that decision, then that is theirs to make and I understand it completely. I will counsel them on ALL of their options before they make that decision and in some cases, we will still place their cat in foster first in case they regret their choice.
If you think that the parents of these animals don’t want them, then you are so sadly mistaken. However, imagine for a moment the spot they are in. They’ve lost absolutely everything: homes, jobs, friends and their community. Most people at this point probably think their cats didn’t make it. Some people never even looked because they assumed their pet couldn’t have made it out of their house, never knowing someone might have stopped and kicked open their door, or that after their windows exploded their pets leaped through the flames and made it to safety.
I’ll end this novel by debunking another rumor I’ve heard and this one is coming from people who have failed at their jobs to protect these animals and are coming after those of us who stepped in to pick up the slack. It’s been said that FieldHaven is all about the money and doesn’t care about the cats. After I picked myself up from laughing at the absurdity of this, I got real angry. Money isn’t what drives me to work 18 hour days. Money isn’t what motivated me to sit at the vet with sick kittens anguishing over them as if they were my own. Money doesn’t comfort me when I am mourning the loss of a cat that I had never met but wanted to find so badly to reunite with the owner. Money does pay for vet bill, microchips, vaccinations, or spay and neuter which we provide with no cost to the owner, rent, heat, water, cat litter, cat food, and a myriad of other things these guys need after being in a toxic wasteland for 2 months. After these things are paid for, we still generally fall short and have many generous donors who help us make ends meet. They generously provide us with the things that we would simply go without but make it safer and more comfortable to run the shelter. Without donations our shelter wouldn’t be here. We were very blessed by Alley Cat Allies and as such we will honor them by providing the absolute best care possible for the cats and to do that we need money but no one is getting rich, no one is driving fancy cars with the money coming in. We are simply trying to provide a service to a community who has lost so very much in the best way we know how.
If you read all that….wow, you were probably bored and definitely were by the end of it. I hope this can help set at least some rumors to rest. Feel free to share, I’m stepping off the soap box for now. I’m afraid of heights anyways.