What a special time of year! For the vast majority of us, the end of the calendar year includes holiday celebrations and marks personal transitions between the before and after, the passing from one stage, or activity to another. It's also the perfect time to reflect on where RVAS has been and where we are going...and why!
As you know, typical annual reports are chock full of numbers, statistics and notable accomplishments intended to impress both current and perspective stockholders. You probably also know that RVAS is far from typical and so, and perhaps not surprisingly, this report will focus more on 'special' achievements rather than meaningless figures.
On a typical day, we receive 10 to 15 calls from people wanting to surrender their pet(s). When asked specifically why they are calling us, the answer is usually the same: primarily because of our reputation as a caring, no kill organization. And while that may be flattering, it's also sad because there are far too few of us, and way too many of them. In a world where bigger is considered better and especially within the animal care culture today, the measure of superiority has become the number of animals an organization recycles rather than the quality of care and placement provided. Sadly, somewhere within that mindset, animals tend to become numbers in a ledger instead of the individual special beings they are.
Consider the two bag kittens, Skipper 'n Tipper.
Their arrival in
our care created quite an internet sensation. It wasn't just surviving their ordeal of being thrown into a feed bag and rescued by a friendly dog that made them special, it was most certainly the personalities they developed growing up together under the watchful eyes of their devoted foster mom. Today, they are inseparable and beautiful examples of how nurturing brings out the best, in both the animals and their humans. All made possible because of donations that allowed us to devote the 24/7 care and attention they needed to allow their special personalities to blossom. Although, given the fact that Skipper can actually traverse his human's entire house without ever once touching the floor, we are certain that his adoptive family wonders how he developed feline superpowers while in our care. It had to be the food.
|Skipper 'n Tipper|
And then there was Sandie, the super sweet dog that survived being shot in the face only to be locked in a garage for 10 years. To say that by the time Sandie came into our care she was a physical and psychological disaster would be an
understatement. In constant pain from the gunshot that would never properly heal coupled with arthritis throughout her body, Sandie was hardly "adoptable" by traditional shelter standards. Had she been surrendered anywhere else, Sandie would have almost certainly been "put to sleep." Because she was 'special', a long time experienced volunteer agreed to foster Sandie fully aware of the daunting task before her. Spending months and months working one-on-one with Sandie, her foster patiently earned her trust enough to be able to begin a pain management regime that has resulted in an entirely new dog.
Expensive? You bet. Was she worth it? To see 12 year old Sandie run and frolic in the snow, revisiting the puppyhood that was stolen from her, and actually enjoying her life with a loving family is special unto itself. Again, your donations made it possible, and the time invested by her patient and kind foster made it happen.
Talk about special ... meet Grayson.
|Grayson: Spent several weeks trying to survive!|
Remember the old adage, "Curiosity killed the cat"? Perhaps it was hunger that made him stick his head into something, but somehow this little guy wound up with an apparatus stuck around his head and was facing certain death by starvation outdoors until one determined woman who saw his plight was finally able to trap him after weeks of trying to earn his trust. The only problem was that her success occurred in the middle of the night when no shelters were open...and the local emergency clinic wouldn't help unless his rescuer claimed ownership of him. They didn't want to get stuck with the animal and neither did she. Someone had to free the little guy from this torment and thank goodness we were there to help. It was in the wee hours of the night when our emergency phone rang.
A sleepy volunteer answered the call and immediately notified the director which then put them both into high gear to save this little life. Iowa Veterinarian Referral Center stepped up to the plate as well, and agreed to take Grayson
and hold him until first, he could receive the medical treatment he needed, and second, work with us to find him a place to go. But again, too few stepped up, and it wasn't until an RVAS Board Member shuffled around her entire household and made a private space for what undoubtedly would be a long time case with a terrified feral kitty, that we were able to save him. Once again, our supporters answered the call for donations to pay for the surgery needed to have the device removed from his neck. Grayson has made great strides while being in foster care. He is now social and starting to be integrated into his foster home, so that he will fit into a multi-animal home...significantly increasing his chances of finding a permanent one.
From Rags to Riches...
At the very end of last year, we took possession of 22 cats that had the misfortune of being confined in horrific living conditions as a result of an inadvertent hoarding situation. Although well-intentioned, the individuals responsible simply allowed the situation to go too far before asking for help. Thankfully, and because of your ongoing financial support, when we did receive the call, we were able to save all of those hapless cats despite the recommendation from local animal control to euthanize them all. Needless to say, after their ordeal most of those would best be described as wild and crazy and hardly ready to be adopted. It was understood that their physical and psychological rehabilitation would take considerable time and resources if it were to be successful.
|Tango's Second Chance|
That was then. This is now.
Reeses, Cocoa & Faith have been rehabilitated and already adopted. Others like Daisey Mae, Buffy, Tango, Fagan, Sable and Mr. T are ready and waiting for their forever homes. The rest are still in the process of being rehabilitated to the extent of having the option to choose their type of life; either being allowed to live their lives freely in a well-cared for feral colony, or inside foster homes that will never give up on them, earning their trust by teaching them that not all humans are bad until they find a forever home. From rags to riches, you can read their story, and follow their updates, as each one gets a second chance to live a full life!
Saved from the System:
|Jefferson: Saved from the System|
Living in the lap of luxury, Mr. Jefferson had it made...or so he thought! What do you do when your 9 year old feline companion suddenly begins to play too rough and his behavior sends you to the hospital? That's exactly what was happening to Jefferson's elderly owner every night. Whenever she moved her legs under the covers, Jefferson thought it was play or prey and pounced. Unfortunately, the pouncing also included sinking his teeth into the blankets far enough to produce some very nasty bites. Sadly, far too many owners in similar situations follow the advice of family members or health care providers who suggest that, "getting rid of the cat" is the immediate solution. For Jefferson, it would have meant being returned to the place where his owner adopted him, a high kill shelter, and as a "biting" cat and therefore 'unadoptable', certain death. Two things were working in Jefferson's favor:
(1) His owner loved him and believed in her responsibility to her lifetime commitment she made when adopting him.
(2) His owner called RVAS for help.
We believe that the more we can do to keep pets out of the revolving door shelter system and in their present homes, the greater the chance of success for the animal, the owner and the system. Subsequently, we initiated pet behavior modification and owner education programs that offer shared solutions designed to keep the animals out of the system with a success rate beyond our wildest dreams.
It's with a bit of pride that we were able to save sweet Mr. Jefferson from being 'institutionalized and put to death' as well as Alex, Baby, Bailey,
|Miss Kitty strikes a pose to capture a heart for a furr-ever home!|
Bear, Beauty, BeBe, Bella,Brewster, Bruce, Buddy, Bozo, Cleo, Calvin, Cooper, Curly, Chopper, Chip, Dudley, Deuce, Duke, Einstein, Emma, Foxy, Fella, Flip, George, Gingin, Goof, Henry, Harley, Igor, Jake, Jojo, Kane, Karma, Kasper, Kaycee, Kaz, Lady, Lexie, Lucky, Max, Maxie, Major, Marley, Miss Kitty, Moose, Molly, Morris, Mugs, Mui, Nala, Nike, Nikky, Oreo, Pappy, Pepper, Pounce, Pudge, Rudie, Sammy, Schatze, Scout, Spot, Shadow,Tank, Thumper, Tulip, Watson, Wrigley, Zak and Ziggy...just to name a few.
Client confidentiality does not always allow us to post the pictures of some of these faces, however, let us just say that instead of only focusing on homeless faces, our vision has expanded to also view those faces about to be homeless. Obviously, there is a tremendous void there that we are trying to fill. And we sure could use your help.
And finally ...
40,000+ lbs. of Tidy Cat™ cat litter was given to the Raccoon Valley Animal Sanctuary & Rescue with one stipulation; that we distribute the empty containers to Iowa State University's Glass Recycling Program. All 1,056 containers to be exact!
The challenge of how to quickly empty the containers, utilize the contents and deliver the empty pails to ISU was quickly met by our Director, who devised a plan to distribute some of the litter to those who needed it the most, animal shelters and rescues.
|Tidy Cat Litter Donation|
Coordinating the unloading, storage and distribution of 40,128 lbs. of Tidy Cat™ was not a simple process. As anyone of the receiving organizations will certainly attest, if the vehicle was large enough, we could load the 1,930 pound pallet into the truck or trailer by a forklift thanks to a local corporate sponsor. If not, then the tedious job of loading each 38 pound pail by hand would commence.
Volunteers spent countless hours on the phone attempting to synchronize all the pickups, deliveries and the eventual returns of the empty containers to ISU. All in all, over 18 different state licensed shelters & rescues benefited from our generosity and we feel it was an appropriate way to celebrate the season ...by sharing our gift, with those who needed it, too!
Our very own Julie Masimore perhaps said it best, "The fact that we were able to help thousands of cats through our networking efforts and alleviate some expense costs for other shelters and rescues tickles me. I'm so proud to be a representative of this organization."
You've helped make the difference!
Thanks to your continued financial support, our 'Shared Solutions' programs, designed to keep companion animals out of the shelter system and assist those who need it most all in an effort to save lives, has once again established an all-time record number of successes during 2012. We hope you share our pride in being able to significantly reduce the number of owner surrenders through behavior modification, owner education and assistance. This program has proven to have a direct and positive impact on shelters and rescues by keeping the numbers of relinquishing owners significantly lower and keeping those pets that already have a home, in their home!
Your tax-deductible contribution will help us continue making an impact in our communities, in our State and across this country by proving that there is a better way of saving lives if we expand our thinking, take time to really listen to those in need and work together to make it happen!
Thank you in advance for your kindness and understanding, your generosity and support and for being there for us ... and the animals we serve.
Please accept our wishes for a safe and prosperous New Year.
Raccoon Valley Animal Sanctuary & Rescue
We Have Living Proof...There is a Better Way!