Tag Archives: trap neuter release

Animal Rights vs. Animal Welfare [TNR = Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon]

11 Aug

Last time, we talked about semantics.  The Humane Society (HSUS), is not associated with your local shelter, and a very small amount of their money is granted to any shelter.  The vast majority of HSUS funds are kept for its own agenda (27).  I told you we would discuss what the primary agenda of HSUS is if it’s not the rescue of dogs and cats. 

Before we get into that, lets review animal rights vs. animal welfare, because the difference will become pertinent to this discussion, and the following posts as well.  Important note:  These terms are politically and emotionally charged so I tried to get (extra!)-valid sources, and I also tried to find a source aligned with each respective side for their own definition.  Because both sides of the ethical divide believe their philosophy is the most sensical and humane, there was a decided slant when they defined the opposing view.  I also tried to do very minimal editing, just changing slight things so the sentences flow, but never the meaning.

An animal is in a good state of welfare if (as indicated by scientific evidence) it is healthy, comfortable, well-nourished, safe, able to express innate behavior, and if it is not suffering from unpleasant states such as pain, fear, and distress. Good animal welfare requires disease prevention and veterinary treatment, appropriate shelter, management, nutrition, humane handling, and humane slaughter. Animal welfare refers to the state of the animal; the treatment that an animal receives is covered by other terms such as animal care, animal husbandry, and humane treatment.1 Protecting an animal’s welfare means providing for its physical and mental needs.

  1. https://www.avma.org/resources/animal-health-welfare/animal-welfare-what-it

I think it’s fair to say that many people believe that animal welfare and animal rights are one and the same. And while there is definitely some overlap, from a technical perspective, as I alluded to above, they are actually opposing viewpoints.

Believe it or not, the definition of animal rights is actually very difficult to nail down, depending on if you ask a lawyer, an animal rights advocate, or a philosopher.

But we can stick to defining it at one core principle any person would agree with- animal rights concerns itself, in large part, with the notion of the legal entitlements of [non-human] animals that pertain to giving that animal:

  • An independent life and thus the freedom to pursue its activities as it chooses to do so within a set legal framework.
  • At the very least, basic considerations and rights (on par with similar human ones) that would allow them to avoid needless suffering.

Affording rights to animals is not about letting them do whatever they want or allowing them every single right a person has, but it is about allowing them to have the possession of their own life and the avoidance of suffering that may be imposed upon them by humans.

With respect to this and current law, an animal is not a legal person. Your dog is technically a piece of property and not its own legal entity, as a human would be. In other words, your pet dog is closer to having the legal status of the chair you sit on than it does a person.  [Animal rights activists] are for the right of an animal to choose its own destiny much like a person can. Animal rights is about ensuring humans cannot use animals in many of the same ways they once did (and still do) use slaves. It’s about giving animals the right to their own destiny, a destiny that’s not chosen, by and large, by someone or something else.

                       28). https://study.com/academy/lesson/animal-rights-ethics-arguments.html

My takeaway points:

Animal welfare is observable, measurable, and evidence-based.  It is (supposed to be) practiced by all entities that work with animals in any capacity.

Animal rights is a philosophy, and it is difficult to implement or measure because historically that is not how our system has been built.  Animal rights is more of an ideal and future goal.

In my opinion, the largest difference between animal welfare and rights is the use of animals.  The animal rights side does not believe humans should be engaging with animals for research, work, entertainment, food–nothing. Animal welfare proponents acknowledges that society already uses animals for a multitude of things.

It’s a judgement call where you stand, and your decision has implications for the rest of our discussion.  So next time (promise!) we will talk about what HSUS wants to accomplish as an organization.

Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) & Shelter [TNR = Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon]

10 Aug

How much does the HSUS contribute to your local animal shelter?  

Before that question can be answered, we need to define what the HSUS is, what its goals are, and how much money HSUS has.  On the HSUS website, they give the following mission statement:

The mission of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is to create a humane and sustainable world for all animals—a world that will also benefit people. We seek to forge a lasting and comprehensive change in human consciousness of and behavior toward all animals in order to prevent animal cruelty, exploitation and neglect and to protect wild habitats and the entire community of life.

The HSUS seeks to achieve our goals through education, advocacy, public policy reform and the empowerment of our supporters and partners. We do not engage in or support actions that are illegal or violent or that run counter to the basic principles of compassion and respect for others.

The HSUS strives for integrity, fairness and professionalism in pursuit of our mission. We will seek to be inclusive and to develop partnerships with a broad array of society’s institutions to further our goals.

                  26). https://www.humanesociety.org/our-policies

So what exactly does that mean?  Who is the HSUS and what are they trying to do?

There is a misconception of who The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is and what their function is nationally.  According to a national poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation (CNN’s pollster) on November 23rd to the 25th, 2011, 71 percent of Americans think the Humane Society of the United States is a pet shelter “umbrella group” (27) that filters its donations to state branches, helping support local animal shelters (24).  

Despite the words “humane society” in its name, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is not formally affiliated with any humane societies that operate at a city, county or regional level. HSUS does not run a single pet shelter (27).  The words “humane society” may appear on its letterhead and omnipresent dogs and cats are in its fundraising materials and television commercials, but the HSUS is not an organization that runs spay/neuter programs or takes in stray, neglected, and abused pets (25).  According to HumaneWatch.org, “HSUS doesn’t run a single pet shelter, nor does it serve as a national headquarters for humane societies that serve cities, towns, counties or states” (24).

A Feb. 2010 poll by Opinion Research Corporation determined that 63 percent of Americans believe their local humane society is affiliated with HSUS and 48 percent believe their local shelter receives financial support from HSUS (27). Furthermore, according to that November 2011 national poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, 68 percent [of Americans] believe HSUS contributes most of its money to local hands-on pet-shelter groups (27). Probably due to the commercials that show sad dogs and cats and strongly imply that giving $19 per month will alleviate their suffering (24).  

All of these statements are false (27).

Very little money given to HSUS will ever reach a pet shelter (24).  And quite unlike the common image of animal protection agencies as cash-strapped organizations dedicated to animal welfare, HSUS has become the wealthiest animal rights organization on earth (25).  HSUS has an annual budget of more than $100 million, and its affiliated groups have more than $191 million in assets, $160 million of which HSUS itself holds 24).

The HSUS disseminates merely one percent of its budget to pet shelters in the form of grants (27). More specifically, according to HSUS’s 2008 tax return, less than half of one percent (0.5%) of HSUS budget consisted of grants to hands-on pet shelters. And in 2009, again according to HSUS’s tax returns, less than one percent of HSUS’s budget (0.8%, to be exact) consisted of grants to shelters (24).

Most Americans aren’t aware of these facts, because the organization perpetuates the misconception the HSUS is directly affiliated with your local animal shelter, and the donations sent to HSUS will help shelter animals.

Even animal shelters believe that HSUS has helped perpetuate Americans’ misperception of what they do. In fact, 71 percent of animal shelters think HSUS “misleads people into thinking it is associated with local animal shelters.” The animals featured in HSUS’s TV ads are almost always cats and dogs. Additionally, their fundraising letters often give the misleading impression about what HSUS does.

One recent letter claimed that “the only way we can make these critical life-saving programs work and help save the lives of puppies and kittens in peril is with the continued support of our very best members such as you.” Another letter asked, “How can we save these innocent puppies and kittens and find them good, loving homes?”

The most likely explanation for this is that donors respond with open checkbooks to dogs and cats more than, say, pigs and chickens. But while HSUS’s advertising plays on people’s love for pets, it uses much of the money in completely different ways.

               27). https://humaneforpets.com/the-problem/

The vast majority of HSUS funds are kept for its own agenda, and next time we’ll discuss what that agenda entails.

Sources:

24). https://humanewatch.org/the_humane_society_of_the_united_states

_and_pet_shelter_giving/

25). https://www.activistfacts.com/organizations/hsus

-humane-society-of-the-united-states/ 

26). https://www.humanesociety.org/our-policies

27). https://humaneforpets.com/the-problem/

Funding Sources of Animal Shelters [TNR = Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon]

9 Aug

In the last few posts we talked about how TNR is not all it’s cracked up to be, there are many downsides.  We went into how TNR started in the United States, and how Alley Cat Allies (ACA), which was integral to that process, seems biased, and according to employee reviews, is sketchy.  Last time we went over some horrible statistics about the number of animals that are abandoned and require shelter services, and the astronomical costs associated with running a shelter.  It’s not a pretty picture, and it’s not a simple problem to resolve. This time I’m going to share how animal shelters get the money to operate.

In trying to convey how animal shelters are funded, I found that two words are apt:  Inconsistent and incompletely.  Before I try to explain how animal shelters are funded, we have to look at semantics.  The term “animal shelter” is a generic term usually used to refer to an animal rescue organization that has a physical facility where you can go and adopt an animal.  To confused things further, some organizations even use the moniker “animal shelter” in their title.  Referring to an organization as an “animal shelter” or “animal rescue” has become common in the industry as a simple way to understand whether the organization has a physical facility where they house the animals.  So they’re catch-all terms, and may or may not be accurate to that particular animal shelter’s business model.

 

Despite the similar names, there are different types of animal shelters, and those classifications can help us decipher funding source–not always.  The majority of animal shelters are operated as rescues. They’re classified as charities and have 501c3 (non-profit) status.  Most animal rescue organizations are foster based and rely on volunteers to take care of the animals in their homes since they cannot afford a building, staff and all of the costs associated with running it.  

 

The second classification is animal shelter organization.  Neither animal rescue organizations or animal shelter organizations are funded by the federal government directly.  Though in some larger municipalities, local government does often provide funding to provide a public service of animal control.  Some cities even have organizations that are designated as animal control like in Milwaukee where MADACC (Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Care and Control) receives public funding for their operations.  

 

The third type are animal control organizationsWhile there are variations and exceptions, generally when you see the term “animal control,” the organization is funded by the local government to provide animal control services.  What this generally means is that the animal control organization is therefore required to take in strays or owner surrenders and they often have a “dog catcher” that is dispatched for animal complaints. Though the USDA does play a part in enforcing animal welfare laws, congress is not pouring money directly into your local shelter (though the USDA does offer some grants to shelters).  The shelters that do get some tax money, do not get nearly enough to sustain operations.

                  23). https://www.animalrescueprofessionals.org/myth-vs-fact

                   /animal-shelters-funded-by-the-government/

 

As you can see the funding is different depending on type of shelter, but also depends on the state, county, city, municipality, etc… There is not a consistent standard I can tell you about.  Everyone would have to look into their specific area to know the answer to that.  And the only way to truly understand the funding model of an organization is to dig a little deeper into their 990 form (if they are an IRS public charity) or hunt around on the internet to find more local or state information if they are not.

 

Bottom line:   

Recognize that your local animal rescue and animal shelter does not receive a big, fat check every month from the government to run their operations.  Most shelters get most of their funding from any grants (they can qualify for), fundraisers and events, and primarily:  Donations.  The vast majority of them rely on your donations and volunteerism to support their great work.

                 23). https://www.animalrescueprofessionals.org/myth-vs-fact

                 /animal-shelters-funded-by-the-government/

 

 This brings me to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).  Next time I will share my research on the mission of the HSUS, and how it helps your local animal shelter.  

Alley Cat Allies (ACA) [TNR = Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon]

3 Aug

There are 38 reviews (it’s a small organization) and the company score was 1.6 out of 5 stars.  Only 13% of people that have been employed with ACA would recommend the job.

I have copied and pasted excerpts, and sometimes all of, the employee reviews for ACA as is.  If you have a Glassdoor login, you can see for yourself the way this information is conveyed by me is truthful and accurate to what is posted on this public job board.

https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Alley-Cat-Allies-Reviews-E848138.htm

From most helpful votes to least: 

a).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 3 years

Feb 27, 2016 –  in Bethesda, MD

Pros

– Office cats live on the 6th floor and you can bring your dog in if you work on the 5th floor

– Good insurance benefits

– Free bagels every Friday

Cons

– Constant turnover and low morale. Less than a handful of employees have been here longer than 2 years

– Lack of upper management. Just a slew of temps, entry level, and mid-level employees with several vacant Director positions and no real HR

– Almost every employee reports directly to the President and/or COO creating huge delays on urgent work

– There is no strategic vision, just constant day-to-day micromanaging

– President and COO. . .are frequently emotionally abusive to employees. 

Advice to Management

My advice to management would be to actually read and truly absorb what all of the 1 star reviews are saying. This many people can’t be wrong. ACA has lost dozens of amazing employees because the President and COO refuse to listen and change. It’s a toxic environment that is bound to self destruct. There is no hope.

39 people found this review helpful

b).

1.0★★★★★

Nov 8, 2017 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

Salaries and benefits are good, but job security is non-existent.

Cons

Alley Cat Allies is an unethical, unprofessional and deeply unkind organization. Contributions are misused and employees are mistreated, disrespected and emotionally abused. Direct Mail expenses, Development team and donor management costs mean that very little money raised goes to help cats.

The office is located in the most expensive zip code in the country.

But the unethical and possible illegal behavior is not as bad the way that staff are treated. Humiliation is the #1 management tool.

Advice to Management

Fire Charelene Pedrolie. Dismiss Becky Robinson. Board members should should be ashamed of how they have abandoned their fiduciary responsibility.

39 people found this review helpful

c).

1.0★★★★★

Current Employee, more than 3 years

Horrible place to work.

Feb 22, 2016 – Anonymous Employee in Bethesda, MD

Cons

The leadership doesn’t lead. They reign through cruelty and spite. . . It is a dysfunctional and toxic workplace. The founder has serious mental health issues demonstrated by major ups and downs, erratic behaviour, insecurity and micromanagement. She is quick to put down others and fails to accept responsibility for her mistakes. Employees are scared of retribution and thus can’t make a move without approval from Becky. Thus they can’t truly do their jobs.

Advice to Management

The founder and president, Becky Robinson, needs to step down. She is a detriment to the organization, incapable of leading or inspiring, with dismal people skills. If she really cared about cats and the organization she created, she would do what’s best for both and hand over the reign to a competent leader. Her ego is unfortunately bigger than her abilities. Also Charlene Pedrolie should be removed. 

38 people found this review helpful

d).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee

Perhaps the worst animal welfare organization to work for in the country

Nov 26, 2015 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

The original mission (protecting the welfare of cats) is noble.

Cons

There are two issues – (1) the ineffectiveness of the organization as a whole and its failure to achieve even the smallest of goals in recent years and (2) the cruelty with which the president and founder (Becky Robinson) and her second in command (Charlene Pedrolie) treat employees.

To the first point, Alley Cat Allies has tremendous wealth (upwards of $7 million) yet made no positive impact for cats. Look at the claims made in fundraising emails and try to match it to actual victories. You simply can’t. The successes don’t exist, instead the organization helps a few individual cats (through relocation, adoption, covering spay/neuter costs) every week. 

most money is spent on fundraising. 

The board has been notified of these issues yet chooses to do nothing. Potential donors should carefully consider whether Alley Cat Allies merits their donations.

Management (Robinson and Pedrolie) have created an environment so hostile and demeaning that it borders on the Kafkaesque. Management . . .screams at employees for inconsequential issues (like using a black pen instead of blue). One particularly distressing habit that the president has is to speak to employees as though they are mentally disabled (very slowly, enunciating each syllable). Clearly, this is an insensitive and offensive way to speak to anyone (regardless of their mental acuity) but it’s particularly humiliating when done to you in front of large groups of people.

38 people found this review helpful

e).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 1 year

Apr 29, 2016 – Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC

Pros

Alley Cat Allies pays (most of) their staff more than the majority of animal welfare organizations.

Monthly healthcare premiums covered at 100% for staff.

Colleagues are great (exceptions exist).

Cons

Just read all of the other reviews (minus an obvious outlier…).

There is also a ENORMOUS amount of money wasted on things ranging from daily operational costs all the way to the refusal to give grant funds to worthy groups despite the amount spent on marketing.

Advice to Management

Get a Board of Directors that actually provides oversight to senior management instead of “yessing” everything and taking glossy slideshows as fact.

Find a President who can run an organization effectively.

And get an HR Department. The lack of this department is truly offensive.

37 people found this review helpful

f)

1.0★★★★★

Run

Nov 18, 2015 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

If there was a strategic plan in place and if the organization actually followed its mission to save cat’s lives then this would be an amazing place to work.

Cons

Unfortunately, there is no strategic plan, campaigns and programs are never implemented yet the halfway achieved campaigns and programs are used for fundraising purposes. There is a lack of trust by senior leadership and no one stays long enough!

There is no HR department. No accountability for senior staff- the rules do not apply to them. 

37 people found this review helpful

g).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 3 years

As BAD as They Say

Sep 3, 2018 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

Excellent benefits. Mostly awesome employees/coworkers.

Cons

At the time of this writing, 18 out of 26 reviews of Alley Cat Allies are one-star (only 4 five-star reviews that are obviously written by management or someone else hired to polish the turd that is this organization’s reputation). Common threads that run through these reviews are:

  • Ineffective leadership
  • Board inaction to the above
  • No strategic vision
  • Donations are misused, and successes exaggerated
  • High turnover
  • Unethical, cruel, abusive, erratic behavior by the president and the COO
  • Dysfunctional, toxic environment
  • Micromanaging and demeaning leadership style

I’m here to tell you that this is all true and waiting for you when you accept employment at Alley Cat Allies. This organization could do great things but will NEVER live up to its potential because of its useless leadership that controls its employees through fear and humiliation instead of inspiring and empowering them.

The pervasiveness of the injury and indignity suffered by employees of this organization speak through these reviews.

Heed my warning and the warning of others! This place is a dumpster fire. Enter at your own risk… I did (believing it couldn’t be THAT BAD, ignoring reviews and verbal notice of the impending nightmare) and I certainly paid the price. My friends and family were relieved when I was free of this place and could “begin healing.”

Advice to Management

What can be said that hasn’t already? Leadership needs a complete overhaul.

36 people found this review helpful

h). 

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, less than 1 year

Negative reviews are ALL TRUE. Positive ones are FAKE. CEO has personality of Donald Trump

Feb 5, 2019 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

Great benefits. That’s how they justify abusing you and creating a CLIMATE OF FEAR. I was afraid to leave because of the benefits but everyone eventually sees their mental health is more important. And it takes a long time to recover emotionally. Like years.

Cons

This sounds like a dystopian book. Or a better comparison is the Trump administration. BECKY ROBINSON acts like Donald Trump. She is angry, irrational, PSYCHOTIC and keeps the organization from accomplishing pretty much anything because she is focused on all the wrong things. Mostly LAWSUITS from other former employees and her EGO and ILLEGAL stuff she is doing with at least one other organization, using Alley Cat Allies donors money. And the COO Charlene Pedroile shuffles behind her quietly MANIPULATING. Whatever she has reported on the books or however she has managed to have a good audit is something she has manipulated. Which one is worse? Why do they do any of this? I honestly think they enjoy hurting people. Every inch of the negative reviews are true. Can’t get that across enough.

Advice to Management

Leave. Maybe the organization could be saved with competent leaders. But they will never leave unless they are forced out. No one has figured out how to do that yet. If you are a journalist help expose them and get them out.

35 people found this review helpful

i)

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, less than 1 year

Please Don’t Work Here

Jan 21, 2016 –  in Bethesda, MD

Cons

Horrible, horrible toxic work environment. The management is absolutely dreadful. 

Charlene pedrolie has absolutely NO idea how to deal with people in a respectful way…  She berates her staff for the most insignificant reasons, taking advantage of them, belittling them and demotivating them.. . Most people quit if they haven’t already been unreasonably threatened to leave by Charlene. She has also demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge about animal care and animal rights – she is clearly all about the business aspect but can’t even prove to be an effective businesswoman. People do not last long as there is a high turnover rate. 

35 people found this review helpful

j).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, less than 1 year

Sep 11, 2015 – Anonymous Employee in Bethesda, MD

Pros

There were a fair amount of catered lunches and meetings, that’s about it.

Cons

– Management is dysfunctional in almost all areas except they excel in fostering an extremely toxic work environment.

– Employees are bad-mouthed by management in-front of other employees.

– Management lacks the ability to make decisions and changes course on major projects on almost a weekly basis.

– The turn-over rate is extremely high and directly affects the organizations ability to accomplish their mission.

– Resources are spent more on development (raising money) than mission goals.

– Administrative costs are high for an organization of this size.

Advice to Management

If you truly care about the organization and the ability to “Save Cats Lives” then let the skilled employees you hire do their jobs.

35 people found this review helpful

k)

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee

Would not recommend working here

May 30, 2015 – Manager in Bethesda, MD

Pros

ACA has a very toxic work environment and I would not recommend working there. The major pro is that the mission is wonderful, and employees are dedicated to supporting that mission.

Cons

Toxic work environment– leadership does not trust employees and thinks that employees are not smart or capable. Leadership gossips about employees with other employees regularly. Programs and initiatives are launched then abandoned as leadership loses focus and decides to do other things.

Advice to Management

New management is simply the only way the culture will change for more cats will be helped. This is not likely to happen.

35 people found this review helpful

l).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, less than 1 year

Read about Alley Cat Allies in the Chronicle of Philanthropy to learn it all…

Mar 29, 2019 – Assistant in Bethesda, MD

Pros

Good health insurance. Good job if you want to gather research for a book about toxic workplaces.

Cons

Google reporter Marc Gunther’s article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy and then go to his website to read his blog posts about Alley Cat Allies and Becky Robinson. That sums up this organization. Dysfunctional and corrupt. Wasting donor dollars. Screaming at employees. Firing people who dare speak up. 

Advice to Management

Stop using donor dollars to fund lawsuits against former employees and consultants. Just shut the place down. Its not like we’re helping cats anyway.

34 people found this review helpful

m).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee

Unethical, High Turnover, Machiavellian Culture

Jan 15, 2017 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

Benefits higher than other non profits.

Cons

Lack of professionalism in management. Management unethical, deceitful and plays employee and rescue group favoritism. Employs cruel, heartless actions against others. Although the salary and company benefits are much higher than other non profits I realized that those benefits and salaries are paid for by the donating public which means that money isn’t supporting the cause. Too much money spent on seeking donations and those donations aren’t funding the cause.

Advice to Management

Resign and replace.Read the other negative former employee reviews. 

34 people found this review helpful

n).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee

Very unhealthy work place!

Sep 30, 2015 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

The Cause of helping and saving feral cats is wonderful, and the company is truly making a difference for them. Everyone there is an animal lover. Overall, the staff members are very nice and work well with each other.

Cons

Executive managers micromanage at the NANO level and change processes and procedures constantly; this creates delays, unnecessary extra work, and more stress for staff. They yell, bully, and degrade staff and vendors, alike, in front of others. The extremely low morale level is rated at a 1, in my opinion. There is a revolving door with incoming and outgoing of employees, as the turnover rate is so high. 

Advice to Management

Stop your condescension with staff and vendors. Paying their salaries and vendors’ businesses does not entitle you to treat people like you own them. Be more thoughtful and tactful, and please stop the micromanagement; allow staff to have some level of autonomy.

34 people found this review helpful

o).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 1 year

If it looks like a duck & quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

Mar 1, 2019 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

* Salary levels

* Constantly being around cats

* Bethesda is a nice neighborhood

Cons

Becky Robinson is truly a pioneer in the TNR field. But these days she’s an afterthought. All the big names in animal rescue leave her out of their planning & events. Why? She simply can’t play nice with others and is batguano crazy. Then, she sealed her fate by hiring Charlene Pedrolie to basically take over the entire operation. Charlene is controlling and heartless. She is intimidated by strong women & will take you down whatever way she’s able. Napoleon complex times a thousand.

Between Becky’s erratic behavior & Charlene’s over the top need to control everything, the work environment is extremely toxic. . .  I doubt the PTSD will ever dissipate. And I’m far from alone! The hiring cannot keep up with the firings & resignations.

Raising money is the #1 focus and with each $5 check from a cat-loving senior citizen is another lawsuit from aggrieved employees or vendors (See Putsche v. ACA). Or, another trip for Becky to far away lands like Hawaii or Australia. She often has a videographer accompany her to capture heart-tugging moments in order to raise more money.

For years, I watched other people berated, treated like trash, and then summarily tossed aside. I thought it would never happen to me, until it did. And my life will never be the same. That isn’t drama, it’s just the awful truth.

Advice to Management

Management = Becky & Charlene who will never take responsibility & forever point the finger at others. So, giving them advice is a waste of time.

For the current employees: the longer you stay, the more complicit you become.

34 people found this review helpful

l).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, less than 1 year

Read about Alley Cat Allies in the Chronicle of Philanthropy to learn it all…

Mar 29, 2019 – Assistant in Bethesda, MD

Pros

Good health insurance. Good job if you want to gather research for a book about toxic workplaces.

Cons

Google reporter Marc Gunther’s article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy and then go to his website to read his blog posts about Alley Cat Allies and Becky Robinson. That sums up this organization. Dysfunctional and corrupt. Wasting donor dollars. Screaming at employees. Firing people who dare speak up. 

Advice to Management

Stop using donor dollars to fund lawsuits against former employees and consultants. Just shut the place down. Its not like we’re helping cats anyway.

34 people found this review helpful

m).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee

Unethical, High Turnover, Machiavellian Culture

Jan 15, 2017 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

Benefits higher than other non profits.

Cons

Lack of professionalism in management. Management unethical, deceitful and plays employee and rescue group favoritism. Employs cruel, heartless actions against others. Although the salary and company benefits are much higher than other non profits I realized that those benefits and salaries are paid for by the donating public which means that money isn’t supporting the cause. Too much money spent on seeking donations and those donations aren’t funding the cause.

Advice to Management

Resign and replace.Read the other negative former employee reviews. 

34 people found this review helpful

n).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee

Very unhealthy work place!

Sep 30, 2015 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

The Cause of helping and saving feral cats is wonderful, and the company is truly making a difference for them. Everyone there is an animal lover. Overall, the staff members are very nice and work well with each other.

Cons

Executive managers micromanage at the NANO level and change processes and procedures constantly; this creates delays, unnecessary extra work, and more stress for staff. They yell, bully, and degrade staff and vendors, alike, in front of others. The extremely low morale level is rated at a 1, in my opinion. There is a revolving door with incoming and outgoing of employees, as the turnover rate is so high. 

Advice to Management

Stop your condescension with staff and vendors. Paying their salaries and vendors’ businesses does not entitle you to treat people like you own them. Be more thoughtful and tactful, and please stop the micromanagement; allow staff to have some level of autonomy.

34 people found this review helpful

o).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 1 year

If it looks like a duck & quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

Mar 1, 2019 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

* Salary levels

* Constantly being around cats

* Bethesda is a nice neighborhood

Cons

Becky Robinson is truly a pioneer in the TNR field. But these days she’s an afterthought. All the big names in animal rescue leave her out of their planning & events. Why? She simply can’t play nice with others and is batguano crazy. Then, she sealed her fate by hiring Charlene Pedrolie to basically take over the entire operation. Charlene is controlling and heartless. She is intimidated by strong women & will take you down whatever way she’s able. Napoleon complex times a thousand.

Between Becky’s erratic behavior & Charlene’s over the top need to control everything, the work environment is extremely toxic. . .  I doubt the PTSD will ever dissipate. And I’m far from alone! The hiring cannot keep up with the firings & resignations.

Raising money is the #1 focus and with each $5 check from a cat-loving senior citizen is another lawsuit from aggrieved employees or vendors (See Putsche v. ACA). Or, another trip for Becky to far away lands like Hawaii or Australia. She often has a videographer accompany her to capture heart-tugging moments in order to raise more money.

For years, I watched other people berated, treated like trash, and then summarily tossed aside. I thought it would never happen to me, until it did. And my life will never be the same. That isn’t drama, it’s just the awful truth.

Advice to Management

Management = Becky & Charlene who will never take responsibility & forever point the finger at others. So, giving them advice is a waste of time.

For the current employees: the longer you stay, the more complicit you become.

34 people found this review helpful

p)

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, less than 1 year

Worst job ever – I needed therapy

Oct 3, 2017 –  

Pros

Great mission, decent pay, cats in office, good health insurance, some colleagues were nice. Office was clean and modern.

Cons

Continual verbal and emotional abuse, harassment, gaslighting, and micromanagement from emotionally unstable boss caused serious mental distress and inability to do job properly.

Several employees sought therapy locally on our lunch breaks because of Becky. Nothing can ever be done to her liking; she has severe mood swings and sometimes violent outbursts; she micromanages everyone to the point where you cannot get your job done; she picks favorites and others are her “whipping boy”. 

Advice to Management

CEO needs psychiatric medication and therapy. She shouldn’t be in a position of managing others.

32 people found this review helpful

q).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 1 year

Atrocious workplace culture, inept leadership

Feb 23, 2016 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

Cats in the office.

Company pays 100% of health insurance premium.

Free donuts on Friday.

Intelligent, compassionate coworkers at middle-management levels and below.

Cons

Organizational leadership and workplace culture are actively harmful to productivity and morale, borderline abusive. Morale across the company is low, and the organization suffers from constant employee turnover. The president and the COO are ineffective leaders with poor people and leadership skills. Their condescension, verbal abuse and aggression toward employees creates a toxic work environment. Alley Cat Allies is a case study in micromanagement. The president oversees every project, mandating her personal approval on everything. This is an enormous drag on productivity, and projects pile up on each other and are approved long after their deadline. Most employees are extremely competent and effective in their field, and are successful in spite of upper management, not because of it.

Projects are often forgotten. Successes are exaggerated or minor, given the stated national scope of the organization. Upward mobility is almost nonexistent, and salaries only increase in an attempt to stop turnover.

Employees have to pay for parking in downtown Bethesda themselves, which is very expensive; you can shave about $7 per day off your daily take-home pay before you even walk through the door. Any food that is not vegan or vegetarian is prohibited in the office, which is not a problem if you’re vegetarian but is frustrating if you’re not.

Advice to Management

The CEO and COO are unfit to guide the organization and should both step down. Drastic changes in leadership are necessary but unlikely. Providing employees with occasional perks like free luncheons or guided meditation are not replacements for increasing salaries and transforming the workplace into a positive, supportive environment.

31 people found this review helpful

r).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, less than 1 year

Immature, Defective, Malignant Management

Dec 29, 2018 – Administrative in Baltimore, MD

Pros

They spend a lot of money on salaries and benefits (not to the cats).

Cons

Management is backbiting, immature, personality disordered and can not change. The only way this organization will survive is for people to 1) Boycott working here and 2) Stop donating to this abusive, self serving, cruel management. They do nothing for the cats, border on the illegal, certainly unethical practices. 

Advice to Management

Please remove yourselves and step down to allow competent, mature and ethical people to run the show.

28 people found this review helpful

u).

3.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 1 year

Reviews speak for themselves

May 14, 2020 – Development Assistant 

Cons

Management is just…rife with scandals, and CEO is pretty much a crazy person.

16 people found this review helpful

v).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 3 years

Dishonesty and paranoia in abundance

Sep 5, 2020 – Manager in Bethesda, MD

Pros

None. You work hard to earn your vacation days then they wont let you to take then because of a million reasons!

Cons

Never got reimbursed for any of my sick or vacation days accumulated. Had to get a lawyer and ACA would rather pay thousands to legal fees then do whats right. 

Advice to Management

Learn how to operate a company the honest way. Stop acting like your busy working foe cats. . .

15 people found this review helpful

w).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 1 year

I would call this place a joke, but that would be ignoring the real damage they do

Jan 19, 2021 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

Benefits and pay, but that’s it

Cons

-Leadership: The founder is prime example of founder’s syndrome. She has too much control over the organization she founded, even though it has grown beyond her ability to manage. She micromanages everything, to the point of nothing getting done. That would be bad enough, but even worse is that she was horrible to employees. At best she’s rude, snapping at people and making them bend to her every whim, acting like we had nothing better to do than serve her, instead of doing our real jobs. At worst, she’s emotionally abusive and makes employees cry.

There’s no HR department, so there is nowhere for people to go with these problems. There’s also no board oversight for questionable management and financial practices.

-High employee turnover

Advice to Management

Leave and let competent people run the organization. Maybe it could actually do some good for cats.

8 people found this review helpful

x).

1.0★★★★★

Former Employee, more than 3 years

Checking in

Jun 21, 2021 – Anonymous Employee 

Pros

I left the organization before getting fired years ago – my first review is posted here already. (PS Most people at ACA get fired, and for no good reason). I sometimes check back in here at Glassdoor to see how things are going, if anything at ACA has changed. Sort of like checking an ex’s social media. I see that nothing has changed.

Cons

The same cruel leadership and ineffective management is reflected in these reviews. Just a note to job seekers…I have thought about this organization, and my negative, scary, sad, stressful experiences there, many times. Truly. Many times. I probably needed therapy.

2 people found this review helpful

y)

5.0★★★★★

Current Employee, more than 1 year

MANAGER

May 3, 2016 – Manager 

Pros

Great benefits, passionate about mission, flexibility, get to be involved in high level strategic discussions that at all of my other jobs I didn’t get to be part of, great staff and great leadership. Becky, Charlene and Rebekah provide good strategic decisions and they care about the employees. I have learned a lot from them and appreciate their dedication and genuine concern for animals. If you don’t work hard and don’t care about the mission, you wont do well here. They don’t put up with slackers.

Cons

I have a long commute so I wished I lived closer to the office.

2 people found this review helpful

z).

5.0★★★★★

Current Employee, more than 1 year

Mission focused, great team, huge impact in movement

Jan 20, 2017 – Program Manager in Bethesda, MD

Pros

Love working here, we are very focused on having huge impact to stop killing of cats. For such a small team, we have had tremendous across the country in saving cats and changing laws. I am so proud of our work and my team members. I now think of them as some of my best friends. I love the dedication and passion of the executive team. They work late nights and almost every weekend.

Cons

its hard when we cant save every cat, although we try. The metro commute has been bad because of the metro work. –

Advice to Management

please consider more remote work options

Be the first to find this review helpful

As you can see, the majority of the reviews are abysmal.  Common complaints were no long-term plans that support the mission, the president and COO foster a toxic workplace environment through micromanaging, verbal abuse, and sketchy practices, and a high turnover rate.  The last reviews, with the fewest “helpful’ votes have an entirely different tone.

That was a lot to get through so next time I’ll give more sources about how ACA is a poorly-run and corrupt organization.

Alley Cat Allies (ACA) Timeline of “Success” [TNR = Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon]

30 Jul

I know I told you we would talk about the Glassdoor ACA employee reviews.  And I will.  But first, we need to talk a little more about the history of TNR.  Which, as close as I can tell, is inextricably linked to the history of ACA.  I’m saying, the history of TNR in America is pretty much the history of ACA.

A] ACA is one of the biggest proponents of TNR

They may have started TNR in the United States (see the last post) and the organization has most definitely taken the process mainstream.  On Google search, pretty much any TNR-related term brings back many results from ACA.  I looked 9 pages deep on the Google search, and the results that were not written by ACA or people directly related to it, mentioned ACA in positive terms. TNR is essentially ACA.

B] Timeline of Successes is very subjective

This timeline of successes was written by Alley Cat Allies.  I wanted to see how each project is doing currently, and what I found is a decidedly biased presentation by ACA.  Firstly, a lot of these projects actually leaned heavily on adoption to reduce cat populations.  Secondly, I found the language in each article highly subjective and politically charged.  Calling something a success doesn’t necessarily make it a success.  In fact, I would argue that following ONLY the principles of TNR made each of these projects failures.  I have taken what is on the ACA website and added my own commentary.  

Timeline from AlleyCatAllies.org:

The idea for the organization started in Washington DC in 1990.

By 1993, Alley Cat Allies had developed a set of protocols for Trap-Neuter-Return and veterinary care for community cats, also known as feral cats. These serve as guidelines for more than 4,000 humane societies and shelters.

[my insertion:  the ”feral” is not a synonym for community cats, homeless cats, or stray cats, and implies these cats are not adoptable, which is false] 

By 1998, our first office was opened in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. 

“Through natural attrition and the removal of adoptable cats and kittens, the cat population dwindled from more than fifty-four cats to six over seven years. The last cat from the colony died in 2007 at the age of seventeen.”

                   https://books.google.com/books?                                                   id=wWkpDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT132&lpg=PT132&dq=number+of+cats+and+Adams+Morgan+neighborhood+of+Washington,+DC.&source=bl&ots=ClvkeuF05J&sig=ACfU3U3IKMWdLMnYE83kcfWShAuj4Zo5rw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi166m1467xAhWQwJ4KHWS4AKYQ6AEwG3oECBMQAw#v=onepage&q=number%20of%20cats%20and%20Adams%20Morgan%20neighborhood%20of%20Washington%2C%20DC.&f=false

[Me again:  “Natural attrition” is a euphemism for the cats that left the colony and were not replaced.  Alley Cat Allies and the many biased articles touting TNR do not share specifically what attrition occurred.  It is unknown what percent of the colony died of old age, vs. more terrible fates like hit-by-car, starvation, disease, dog mauling, or the other risks posed to these strays living outside.  It is also not mentioned how many of the cats in the colony were adopted out.

Still me:

Another thing that goes unmentioned in many articles citing this “success story” in Washington D.C. is that the number of stray cats was relatively small- just 54.  We can calculate the rate of colony reduction using their beginning number and the number of cats 7 years into the TNR program:

54 at start minus 6 cats left after seven years = 48 cats had been removed from the colony

48 cats removed divided by 7 years = 6.857 cats reduced per year, about 7/yr.

It’s honestly not that great of a success in my opinion.  And I was left with many questions such as:  Were there concurrent anti-dumping laws that helped stabilize the population through zero new cats joining the colony?  Were any other laws passed that aimed to solve the stray cat problem?  Would cats be removed at the rate of nearly seven per year if the colony started out larger?  How many cats were neutered?  Were cats spayed as well?  What was the cost per cat to sterilize the cats? Does this reflect a financial deal with veterinarians, and if so is the discounted price good long-term?  How many of the 54 cats were adopted? How well was the colony tracked?  What size staff/volunteers did they have? How many caretakers of the colony were there? Were those caretakers consistent, or did the people change or decrease over time? Did any of the cats die from trauma or disease?  Is the 54 cats to 7 figure exactly accurate, or ballpark figures? 

It seems like a very hazy story with so many variables unknown that it’s difficult to attribute the complete removal of the colony to TNR, especially excluding other factors.]

Back to Alley Cat Allies Timeline:

In the year 2000, when Atlantic City’s animal control started trapping and killing cats living under the city’s famous boardwalk, Alley Cat Allies intervened and convinced the public health director, Ron Cash, to endorse a pilot TNR program. Now called the Atlantic City Boardwalk Cats Project™

15).  https://www.alleycat.org/about/history/#:~:text=

Our%20roots%20go%20back%20to,them%20to%20their%20outdoor%20homes.

In the immediate wake of Hurricane Sandy, Alley Cat Allies is mobilizing staff and volunteers to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where clean up and recovery efforts are underway at the Boardwalk after the devastating flooding there.  Specifically, we will help to assure that cats found during rescue efforts will have safe shelter until their caregivers or families are identified or until safe locations or new homes can be found.  We will also vet any injured cats, spay/neuter and vaccinate any cats that may be displaced but who are rescued, and provide supplies and volunteers to help build safe shelters and stations for the Boardwalk cats and other cats adjacent to the Boardwalk.

                             17). https://www.lifewithcats.tv/2012/10/31/

                             returning-to-the-boardwalk-atlantic-city-cats-post-sandy/

[It’s me:  So right off, the middle of a hurricane described as “devastating” doesn’t sound like the ideal place for cats.  And weather events and temperature are part of the TNR bargain.  Release means after the cats are castrated, they are put back where they were found–outside.  Think about all the dramatic weather forecasts in the U.S. and know that mother-nature is a constant threat to cats living outdoors.  Also, it sounds like many of the surviving cats may have been adopted, but numbers for death, adoption, and continuation in the boardwalk colonies are not provided by the article.]

ACA continues:

When the TNR effort started, there were an estimated 300 stray cats who called the Atlantic City Boardwalk-area home. Nobody knows for sure; that’s a best-guess estimate.  As it’s progressed through the years, [my sidenote:  Article written July 17, 2017, seventeen years after the initial TNR efforts began] Wildman said that population has dwindled to roughly 100. They live in 15 “colonies” spread along a two-mile span of the Boardwalk. 

16). https://www.phillyvoice.com/meet-the-people-who-care-for-

                     100-boardwalk-cats-at-jersey-shore/

[My sidenote:  For those keeping track.  The boardwalk started with approximately 300 cats and over 17 years reduced to 100.

300 initially minus 100 at the time of this article touting the TNR a success = 200 cats left the colonies.

200 cats reduced out of the colonies divided by 17 years of the TNR program = A decrease of just under 12 cats per year.]

ACA timeline continues:

In 2008 Alley Cat Allies launched a social media campaign that resulted in 208 Facebook friends and 11 Twitter followers. Today, through our online communities of nearly half a million Facebook fans and 21,000 Twitter followers, we can take even swifter action to mobilize our network to protest threats to cats.

15).  https://www.alleycat.org/about/history/#:~:text=

                       Our%20roots%20go%20back%20to,them%20to%20their%20outdoor%20homes.

[Here’s my assessment:  Now we’re talking actual, measurable success!  

Facebook 208 to half million 

Twitter from 11 to 21,000 

Social media growth from 2008 to 2021 (13 years) was 49,792 more and 20, 989 more, respectively

49,792 / 208 = 23938.46% increase in Facebook followers!

20,989 / 11 = 190809.09% increase in Twitter followers!

*this is the real success of the organization.]

And given the protest comment, along with the charged language, plus all the law changes implemented across the country, I think this is actually the priority of this organization.  The ACA wants to persuade, recruit, protest, and change laws to start TNR everywhere in America.

NOW the next thing I’ll talk about is the Organization as employer.

Who Started TNR & Why? [Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon]

29 Jul

Depends on who you ask.

A brief history of TNR

courtesy of: Best Friends Animal Society

https://resources.bestfriends.org/article/tnr-stray-cats-meaning-history-statistics#:~:text=TNR%20evolved%20in%20the%20U.S.,launched%20the%20Feral%20Freedom%20program.

The humane approach called trap-neuter-return emerged on the public scene in Great Britain during the 1950s and later in Denmark in the 1970s. At some point during that time, TNR began to take hold in the U.S. as well, but it didn’t become part of the public discourse until the 1990s. That’s when Alley Cat Allies eased TNR into the mainstream.

TNR evolved in the U.S. after the city of Jacksonville, Florida, became the first city to introduce it in a shelter setting in 2008. At that time, the city teamed up with local nonprofit First Coast No More Homeless Pets and, with funding from Best Friends, launched the Feral Freedom program. This program allows First Coast No More Homeless Pets to take all community (feral) cats entering Jacksonville’s Animal Care and Protective Services, so that they can be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, ear-tipped and returned to their outdoor homes. According to the First Coast No More Homeless Pets website: “This program has and continues to save thousands of cats each year from certain death at Animal Care and Protective Services, and frees up vital resources to be used on adoptable pets.” The Feral Freedom program has been instrumental in helping the City of Jacksonville to achieve and maintain no-kill status for the past two years.

An Alternate history of TNR

from: Alley Cat Allies

https://www.alleycat.org/about/history/

Our roots go back to 1990, when Becky Robinson and a friend discovered an alley with 56 feral cats, and two smaller colonies, in the Washington, DC neighborhood of Adams Morgan. With the help of the cats’ caregivers, they humanely trapped the cats, had them neutered, and returned them to their outdoor homes.

Deluged by requests for help, and concerned for cats routinely killed by animal control agencies and shelters, Robinson founded Alley Cat Allies.

A year later, she launched the Feral Friends Network to help people navigate the animal control system and connect with experienced cat caregivers for advice and assistance. Today the Feral Friends Network comprises thousands of skilled caregivers, veterinarians, rescue groups, and spay and neuter clinics in America and around the globe. By 1993, Alley Cat Allies had developed a set of protocols for Trap-Neuter-Return and veterinary care for community cats, also known as feral cats. These serve as guidelines for more than 4,000 humane societies and shelters.

By 1998, our first office was opened in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. Becky Robinson is invited to speak at the first discussion of nonlethal feral cat control at a National Animal Control Association training conference. Her participation demonstrates both the growing momentum behind TNR and Alley Cat Allies’ role as TNR experts.

Though the accounts differ in almost all respects, the organizations seem to get along. The ACA website starts it’s history with this quote:

“Beginning in the early 1990s trap/neuter/return (TNR) protocols, pioneered in this country by Alley Cat Allies, changed the fundamental paradigm for managing free-roaming stray and feral cats – collectively known as community cats.”
– Gregory CastleCEO Best Friends Animal Society

At any rate, it’s safe to say Alley Cat Allies (ACA) may have started TNR in America, and they most definitely took the process mainstream.

In my next post I will delve deeper into the organization. But I will leave you with a link and picture of employee reviews copied from Glassdoor.

https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Alley-Cat-Allies-Reviews-E848138.htm

Concept Discussion [Trap Neuter Re-abandon]

28 Jul

Words such as ethical and humane are difficult to define because (very divergent) personal belief-systems and personal experience color both terms.  Welfare is a provable condition, by design.  It uses quantitative parameters to ensure animal health and freedom from suffering and cruelty.

Speaking of personal experience, my 15 years of employment in veterinary hospitals (and prior to that over 1,000 volunteer hours in animal settings) influences my judgments in the following vocabulary terms.  Intentionally for propaganda, and unintentionally out of ignorance, these words are being used to persuade.  But they might not be the most accurate way to describe the reality of the situation.

Here’s what I mean. The term “feral” is overused, as is “wild” in the context of abandoned pets being left to fend for themselves.  Feral implies the cat is unapproachable (and will probably remain that way long-term).  Using wild to describe un-homed cats suggests these cats belong outside, are proficient in meeting their own needs without intervention, and cannot be tamed (and would not like it).

I would argue very few cats in colonies (or shelters, or homes) are truly feral.  Do they get amped up and scared, especially with unfamiliar people doing unfamiliar things to them, or in strange places-absolutely!  Most cats get stressed and hate travel/change.  But given time to calm down, and with some patience, would they make a good pet? Yes!  I have a big problem with the notion that some cats are “unadoptable” and must be feral forever.

I can’t tell you how many times a client was in the exam room with a growling cat in the carrier, and they told me said cat was “feral.” If I had to guess I would say at least once a week.  And I can’t tell you how many times that growling cat in a box could be taken out, handled to get vitals, and ended up tolerating the appointment–most of them.  In 15 years, out of all the cats that came into the veterinary hospital being called feral, probably 12% were actually feral, and probably just 5% of those had to be sedated to proceed with their appointment.  So the perception of feral and the incidence were drastically different.

I think feral is a loaded term that justifies abandoning healthy, potentially-adoptable cats in urban streets.  And don’t get me started on wild.  These cats are not independent for the most part.  They do require human intervention, because even actual wild cats were not living in population-dense, urban landscapes.  And genetically they differ from their wild ancestors–ever see an F1 Bengal vs. a domestic shorthair?  You can see that genetic difference in their behavior!  And most of the cats that are dumped were once pets, or they are genetic offspring of pets.

Bottom line: Roaming or stray are more accurate terms for this situation. 

Furthermore, I disagree that some cats are outside cats, and can’t be taken indoors.  Habituation and localization are real.  The feeding part of the TNR process uses these concepts to train cats to gather in a certain area at a certain time, with other cats and humans present.  The cats are trained to get in the traps.  Why not use habituation to get cats more comfortable with people and train cats to stay inside?  The cat may hate it at first.  There are strategies, products, and medications that can assist in the process.  Patience, persistence, and calm can go a long way in getting (and keeping) a cat inside.  Spend the time and effort, and in most cases it can happen.  If you don’t believe me, just look at YouTube and you’ll see about a thousand success stories.  And indoor cats are exponentially safer than the ones outside!  People who say some cats are just outdoor, and can’t be taken inside don’t have a wild cat problem, they have a priorities problem.

Throughout my research paper, I will argue there is little difference between the initial dumping of cats by irresponsible people, and the “release” part of TNR.  Just because the TNR has good intentions doesn’t make throwing cats outside the right thing to do.  The cats are neglected in both scenarios, dumping or release.  TNR is also not sustainable, and my research will show how TNR colonies maintain their original numbers or increase their numbers without death (either euthanisia or most times, hazards outside) and adoption.  Neither euthanasia or adoption are mandated in TNR.

After being involved in animal hospitals for 20 years, seeing what patients come in, I believe there are some things worse than death, and euthanasia is often a kindness.  I have seen horrible things, and was sometimes even relieved to see an animal ‘put out of its misery’ (there are reasons, that I will not describe here, that this is a common phrase).  And the procedure itself is compassionate, done by a veterinarian who loves animals so much that they completed 5-8+ years of college education, and took a job that is both time-consuming and relatively low-paid.  The process of euthanasia is also (for lack of better word) clean, meaning no messy hit-by-car, dog-mauling, human abuse, and no undue suffering like heat stroke, slow starvation, or disease process kills the animal.  It’s the poke of an IV or needle, and an injection which acts quickly on the brain and stops the heart. I believe euthanasia is much less cruel than trapping, neutering, and putting an animal back outside in the elements with all the hazards.  Before you think death is the worst thing, check out some of the 85% morbidities faced by outside cats.  Like I said before, there are worse things than death.  Why are we choosing that fate for these cats we’re trying to help?  After neuter the job isn’t complete–let’s work on adoption, education, and prevention.

Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) is actually Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon an Intro

26 Jul

I feel very passionate that Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) is inhumane/cruel and ineffective. It is very popular where I live in (hot) Arizona, and I just hate it for many reasons. Which I will specify in detail in these posts. I spent a disproportionate time arguing against it with neighbors on the Nextdoor app, but have decided a better use of my time would be to write a research paper on the matter. Using facts and legitimate sources, not just feelings and experiences. In this blog series, I’ll be posting some of my (yet to be edited) findings. I hope you will read with an open mind and really think about this information rationally, as I am attempting to do.

Why is there an Outside Cat Problem:

Cats are either born outside, or they had been owned and that (irresponsible, heartless) person left them outside to fend for themselves.

The cats are living in substandard conditions on the street.

In the elements, all weather (sometimes 120F here in AZ, 140 triple digit days last May-Oct), and natural phenomenon such as hurricanes or drought.

Breeding, fighting, spraying, scratching, digging in plants,

Being preyed upon, getting hit by cars, 

Eating wildlife, exchanging diseases with each other, 

Using the urban setting as a litterbox, which spreads disease and parasites.

A rescuer begins feeding.  This habituates these outdoor cats to people, gathers them in one place at a certain time, and nourishes the cats.

A live trap is set and (hopefully) all the breeding cats are collected and taken to the shelter.  Whether females are included, depends on funding. Being inside a trap is stressful to the cats, as is going in a car, being taken to an unfamilar place, being around loud, unfamilar animals and people, and getting a shot in order to be able to castrate.  It’s all very traumatic and stressful to these outdoor cats, just as it is to ANY cat.  

The toms are neutered, and it takes only minutes of a veterinarian’s time.  They do not even need to be fully anesthetized and put on gas to sustain the unconsciousness.  The sedation is much lighter, and the vet dexterously neuters each cat relatively quickly.

Spaying is a bigger job.  The queen has to go under full anesthesia, sustain unconsciousness with gas inhalant, have supplemental oxygen, and more monitoring equipment for vitals, and usually always (I sincerely hope!) a 2nd person in the room to monitor, help, and in case of emergencies.  Going fully under is a higher risk, longer procedure, and more costly as a result.  TNR programs may have the funds (and motivation) to spay, or they may not.

Honestly, all cats should have an FIV/FeLV test, a rabies, FVRCP, and the optional FIV vaccines since they are outside, and get dewormed.  At least.  These items are highly dependent on funds, and as such are usually neglected for the TNR cats.

After the castration, sometimes cats are allowed to recover in the shelter, sometimes there’s no space or time.  So the cats are dumped back outside, sometimes while still a bit groggy and disoriented.

Then the cats are outside fending for themselves in the elements.

(this repetition is not a mistake, or copy & paste error. As you can see, the cat lives are much the same post-neuter)

Fighting, spraying, scratching, digging in plants,

Being preyed upon, getting hit by cars, 

Eating wildlife, exchanging diseases with each other, 

Using the urban setting as a litterbox, which spreads disease and parasites.

Neutering will not change ingrained behavior patterns.

Cats can still spray, fight each other, and be a nuisance in neighborhoods.

Neutering cats does not change their health outcome living in a high-risk urban outdoor environment.  They can still get preyed upon, hit by cars, and the other bad ends.

Neutering does not change a cat’s diet.  They may still eat birds and wildlife depending on availability of food, food-competition, and hunting drive/instinct.  

Zoonotic disease can be passed on in this way:  A cat hunts a vole or bat.  That vole/bat was carrying rabies.  Or a raccoon is attracted to the cat food, and the territorial cats get in a scuffle with it. The cat shows signs of rabies, but it lives outside so either nobody notices or the cost is prohibitive to seek medical treatment for a cat that isn’t owned.  A dog comes by and the furiously rabid cat aggresses, or a child tries to pet the cat, or a well-meaning person tries to trap the cat to take it to the vet.  The cat bites in any of these scenarios.  You have a dog with rabies, that can spread it to other dogs, cats, and people.  You have a child bitten by a rabid cat.  You get an adult bitten and scratched and having to do lengthy and costly rabies prevention measures.  That’s just three examples.  There are countless diseases and parasites that can travel from cats to other species.

Neutering is not whole-animal health.  The cats will no longer breed, but neutering does not protect from disease or parasites. Or other health concerns.

So what has been accomplished?

An outdoor cat with a high-risk life was neutered, and now is an outdoor cat…With a high-risk life. It doesn’t breed. But people don’t stop dumping pets outside either.  The root cause of the problem has not been resolved.  So even though the TNR cats aren’t reproducing, they can still add more and more to the colony.  Without adoption and death, the colony size either remains the same, or actually grows in size.

This is just a raw outline of the procedure and problem. Stay tuned for more specific details.