Truly insane in Going public

  • Dec. 24, 2023, 4:32 p.m.
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  • Public

I’ve had the most insane week.

I’m in a local facebook group with a few thousand members that is cat-centric. People post cat memes, photos of their cats, questions about cats, etc. A few weeks ago a woman, let’s call her C, posted that she needed to re-home her cat. She said that the cat had a tumor, hadn’t been to the vet, was not spayed, and that she was allergic to the cat. People ripped her a new one for this. I checked out C’s profile and did a deep dive - by her own admission she is intellectually disabled and has a host of mental health issues.

Last Friday C posted again with the same request - that someone take her cat Daisy. No one was doing anything about it and I had finished work for the year so I said fuck it, I’m gonna take care of this poor neglected cat.

On Saturday I got in contact with C and got her address. From googling the address, I learned that C lives in a group home for disabled adults. I realized this might be above my paygrade, so I called the non-emergency line of the police in the town where C lives. Animal control was off for the weekend, but the officer I spoke to said they’re very aware of C and that she neglects animals often. He suggested to me that I not try to rescue the cat myself, because C often freaks out at the people who come to take the animals she is neglecting.

Despite the officer’s warning, I couldn’t stand thinking about that cat being in C’s “care” for a second longer. C was hard to communicate with, but I was able to arrange a cat pick-up for Sunday. C asked me for a $15 “rehoming fee” and I said no, and she said that was fine. She also informed me she was single, and I think was trying to hit on me. I shut that shit down really fast.

I told my friend E about the situation and she offered to come with me to rescue the cat.

Sunday came, and C stopped responding to my messages. E and I decided to show up at her house anyway. The group home staff answered the door, and showed us to C’s room. C lives in a sort of studio apartment in the basement of the group home. I was rather shocked by her appearance and living conditions. C has no teeth, is unkempt, and her studio was a near hoarder’s nest.

We had very little info about the cat going in, but luckily the cat was friendly. I asked C if it was OK if I loaded her cat up in the carrier. C started waffling and said she wasn’t sure. She pulled out her phone and told me she was communicating with someone who might trade her the cat for a chihuahua (!!!). Because C has a very low IQ, she doesn’t have access to her own money and I knew that giving her money might sway her. I talked to her like a toddler, and told her I’d give her $20 for the cat. She changed her tune immediately, and gave us the go-ahead to take the cat.

My friend E tried to load the cat into the carrier that was there, but it was very small and the cat freaked out. I ran to E’s car to retrieve the larger carrier that I had brought. After a few more tries and some bloodied hands, we got the cat Daisy into the carrier.

C became somewhat distraught about the fact that the cat was leaving her, but she said her goodbyes and we tried to make her feel better by saying that her cat would miss her. She started to load up some cat supplies and things she wanted the cat to have. Frankly, I didn’t want anything from her nasty apartment, but she wasn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer. E and my hands were full, so we told her we were going to load Daisy into the car, and then come back to carry more supplies out. We rushed upstairs and explained to the group home staff that we had the cat and weren’t coming back. We got in the car and drove the fuck out of there.

When I got home I checked my messages and C had texted me a bunch saying I was a thief and that she wanted her cat back. I guess she forgot that she was trying to give up her cat?? I blocked her.

We took Daisy to my place and let her out of the carrier into my spare room. Poor Daisy was terrified, and eventually huddled in a corner, not moving a muscle. We left her alone to acclimate.

I had contacted a number of local rescues and shelters to see if there was anywhere I could bring the cat to get it into the rescue system, but it turns out there’s nowhere you can just bring a cat to get care. Surrendering a cat is a lengthy process and is nontrivial.

I had been in contact with the admins of the facebook group, and they removed C from the group. I then made a long post on the facebook group explaining that my friend and I rescued the cat, and I asked for help with a number of things.

Luckily, I got an outpouring of support, both financial and emotional. People venmo’d me money for Daisy’s care, and a small local rescue got in contact with me and agreed to take on Daisy if I could continue to foster her!

On Monday animal control called me and I had a 30 minute conversation with them, where I learned a LOT. Basically, animal control has removed several animals from C. However, it’s not possible to prosecute C for a couple reasons. One is that it’s too hard to prove that she is willingly and purposely causing her animals pain, and the other is that she is too intellectually disabled for a judge to rule her competent to even take on charges. I left the conversation with a ton of respect for the animal control officer, and was stunned with how tough of a job she has, and how little the law protects animals.

After rescuing Daisy and knowing she would be cared for, my focus became C. With her long history of animal abuse, I knew I needed to put a stop to her acquiring animals in the future.

It’s a really tricky problem, because C gets animals from social media for free. There are facebook and instagram communities where bad people try to offload animals they don’t want anymore, and they are indiscriminate about who they give their animals to.

I learned from animal control that C’s group home lease already prohibits animals. But how can they enforce that rule with her? The group home staff aren’t security guards, they can’t prevent C from smuggling in animals. And how can any landlord enforce any rule, really? The only answer is eviction. However, it would be incredibly inhumane to evict C due to her very limited capability to even care for herself.

With another woman’s help, we contacted C’s group home company and they assured us that they, and C’s entire care team were already very aware of the problem.

I realized that the only way to stop C from her carousel of animal abuse is to get C out of a group home, and into a situation with an enhanced level of care / reduced freedom. I believe that is incredibly reasonable not due to her animal abuse, but due to the fact that her living situation was rather bleak, and it seemed she was unable to care for herself in her current situation.

I filed a report with adult protective services, and they will do an investigation. I also posted about the situation on reddit, and it was suggested that I contact an ombudsman, so that’s on my to-do list. It’s just hard because I am not C’s family, or her friend, and in fact if she still remembers who I am, she probably hates me. So due to confidentiality I’m not really able to learn a ton about her case.

I also had another idea about how to stop C. Since she gets animals from social media, what if I got her banned from Meta? I consulted the tech community and basically learned that it’s not technologically possible to entirely ban an individual, as they can simply make more accounts. Someone did suggest that parental controls could be implemented on her device or router, so I’m going to suggest that to her group home. C is frankly not smart enough to figure out how to circumvent things like that, so if she was just kept off of Meta and craigslist, the problem might be solved.

Back to Daisy the cat. The rescue I’m working with got her an appointment at a spay and neuter clinic very quickly. However, when we brought her there, they found that she was already spayed! And she had a microchip. The rescue called the number on the microchip, and found that it was disconnected. I circled back with animal control who were able to use police records to track down Daisy’s original owners and get an updated phone number. The original owners didn’t want her back, and said that they “thought they were giving the cat to a good person”. Eye roll.

I brought Daisy to a regular vet to get a regular check up. Turns out she doesn’t have a tumor, either. You know how cats have that little stomach pooch? Yeah. C thought that was a tumor. Unfortunately Daisy has rotted teeth, to the point where her mouth smells awful. And because her mouth hurts, she doesn’t do a lot of grooming, so her coat is a bit oily and dandruff-y. But luckily she is otherwise healthy, and received vaccines. She will need about $1200 worth of dental care and extractions.

After I left the vet I was SICK with sadness about the pain Daisy has been in for YEARS due to her rotting teeth. C never brought Daisy to the vet, but the rotting teeth had been a problem long before C was involved. I called animal control again as I wanted to see if we could prosecute Daisy’s original owners for misdemeanor neglect, which hopefully would cause them some stress and ban them from having pets for a few years. Unfortunately they live in the town over, so I need to connect with a different animal control officer to get that process rolling.

Revenge is my hobby now.

Daisy is doing better emotionally and socially. She’s more comfortable with me and is excited when I come to visit her in her quarantine zone. I need to wait a week after her vaccines before I can try introductions with my resident cats.

The reason I want to introduce her to my cats is.. she found a potential adopter! Remember my friend E who helped with the rescue? E’s best friend wants to adopt Daisy. However, E’s friend already has one cat, and so we need to see if Daisy is friendly with other cats. E’s friend lives in Canada, so Daisy might become Canadian. We’re shooting for a move date of Jan 6, and Daisy will receive her necessary vet care up north later in January.

I think that’s pretty much the entire story up until now.

Overall the wildest part of this has been just how difficult it is to get the right people involved in remedying a clearly fucked up situation. I feel like this whole ordeal gave me a giant dose of reality. Like, normally I’m just living in my little bubble of mostly-sane and competent people, and I guess I just assumed that when things are fucked up, there are people who can jump in and take care of it. Turns out… that’s not how it works. Turns out if you’re someone like C who is disabled and have no family looking out for you, your living conditions will be shit and you’ll be allowed to have horrible destructive behavior. Turns out animals aren’t protected very much at all. There is a lot of pain and suffering in this world.

I was a bit worried about being bored/depressed during my time off work, but this little project has given me something to be passionate about. However, I need to be careful about setting boundaries. I have like 3 more things on my to-do list, and then I’m stepping away from the situation, having done all I can reasonably do.

Cat tax:

Last updated December 24, 2023

Flame is Love December 24, 2023

Daisy is adorable. You've gone above and beyond for her and for C.

Neogy Titwhistle December 24, 2023

Just, wow! You did good!

Wrennie December 28, 2023

One of the most insane things I learned working in veterinary practice is that animals are property in the eyes of the law; there's next to no protections available for them in most cases :(.

I'm glad you were able to help Daisy get out of that situation and into a much better one! :)

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