My phone rings at 10:15 p.m. Saturday, It’s the Waupaca police reporting that an injured kitten was found at a gas station.
“In this cold weather? I’ll meet you at the shelter building as soon as I can get there.” I roust myself out of bed and get dressed.
Half an hour later, Officer Krueger and I are examining the kitten and taking photos of his condition for his report. There appear to be no life-threatening injuries so I tell the officer I will make the kitty comfortable for the time being and get him to a vet first thing Monday morning.
The next day I call the Humane Society of Waupaca County (HSWC) to check on the injured kitten. He’s fine, but another injured kitten is on its way in from Manawa, I remind the staff person that we don’t take kittens from Manawa. But part of her leg was cut off from being under a car hood and the Manawa Police probably won’t do anything. “These poor people that found her didn’t know what to do,” I’m told. “I had to let them bring her in.” My staff knows what areas we can and can’t accept animals from, but we hire people with big hearts.
Perhaps you’re wondering why I’m happy to jump out of my warm bed in the middle of the night to take in an injured kitten from the city of Waupaca, but reluctant to take one in from the city of Manawa. Here’s the difference: The city of Waupaca has embraced and supported our efforts and has entered into a contract with us to care for their stray cats. The city of Manawa has not.
The city of Waupaca has hired HSWC to take care of this little problem for them. The city of Manawa apparently doesn’t think cats are worthy of a line on their budget. That puts us animal lovers in a cruel position.
When the Manawa police officer called me that afternoon, I asked him what they would do if they found a stray, injured dog in Manawa. He said they would take it to a nearby vet clinic. I then asked him what they would do for a stray, injured kitten and I was told “nothing.” Their city ordinance does not address caring for stray cats. He was sympathetic, but that was their policy. Apparently they don’t make exceptions like we sometimes do.
Now, I don’t mean to just single out the city of Manawa, because the truth is, most of the municipalities in Waupaca County have the same policy to ignore stray cats.
If you are a cat owner and live in the city of Waupaca, Weyauwega or Clintonville or in the town of Dayton, you’re in luck. If you lose your cat, there is an improved chance you will find it again because it has a safe place to stay if someone finds it and turns it in. These are the only municipalities I know of that have made official arrangements for their stray cats.
The town of Farmington has a verbal agreement with a rescue group in Waushara County. So if you lose your cat in or near Farmington, you should call the town chairman or Town Hall immediately for the best chance of being reunited before your cat is relocated to Waushara County.
This time of year, we get calls at HSWC almost daily from outside our contract areas. These people are agonizing over what to do with the sick cat or baby kitten that wandered up to their door in the freezing cold. It is hard for us to be the bearer of bad tidings for something we have no control over, but we have to.
The people who can do something are those who sit on your town, village or city council. You, the taxpayer need to call your elected officials and ask them what their policy is on stray cats. If they don’t have an adequate policy, ask for one. Let them know it is important to you. Stray cats should have a safe place to stay during a seven-day “stray hold” at a documented facility, giving their owners a chance to find them.
Back to our injured babies: Once again, the Humane Society of Waupaca County accepts what should be a municipal responsibility and the cost to care for this Manawa kitten will fall on the backs of our caring donors. However, our donors cannot possibly cover the cost for all the stray cats in this county. At some point, we all need to work together to solve this problem. Pretending it doesn’t exist is only exacerbating the situation.
Monica Gardner is operations manager for the Humane Society of Waupaca County.