Her husband, Richard, has been actively involved in her mission for 20 years.
The caring lady has been saddened countless times by the plight of innocent animals that are suffering due to human misdeeds. But her hopes — that via humane education pet owners will begin realizing their pets need and deserve loving pet care which maintains their physical and emotional being for life — have been dashed lately.
“We live in a neighborhood where some people apparently think there aren’t enough cats,” Erin said. “So they ‘dump’ cats and kittens here. Many of these poor cats are not spayed or neutered. This has created a situation that is totally out of control. I estimate there are at least 40 or 50 abandoned cats and kittens currently here roaming our neighborhood.
“Most are unsocial, many are sickly and dying, some are deformed due to inbreeding.
“One day last week a friend and I humanely trapped 24 cats and kittens too sickly and unsocial to be rehomed. After we trapped them we transferred them to humane pet crates and called Cleveland Animal Control dispatch at 479-2122.
“Officer Hugh Thigpen soon arrived but due to illness and stress four of the poor cats died before Hugh came. Both the officer and I knew without doubt the only humane action we could take was to load the crated cats and kittens into his truck to take back to the shelter and be euthanized,” she said.
“Neither of us wanted to do this but these pitiful cats and kittens were suffering due entirely to the irresponsible behavior of pet owners who had not given them any care. And we are going to have to continue doing this to try to control this disaster,” she added.
“What is so terribly sad is that this enormous problem in our neighborhood is not unique. I get constant calls describing similar out-of-control situations involving both cats and dogs. “Recently a Bradley County deputy sheriff notified me about a box of unweaned kittens somebody had left at the side of a road. He rescued the poor babies and brought them to me. One of the five kittens was too weak to survive. ... Other calls come about people moving away and leaving their pets behind.
“Do they really believe neighbors will take the responsibility they’ve neglected? Do they think the pets can fend for themselves?
“Yes, some animals can hunt,” she continued. “But they also need fresh water and shelter. Abandoning any animal sets it up to be hit by a car, attacked by other animals, exposed to disease or dying from starvation. I would far rather see unwanted pets taken to the Cleveland Animal Shelter where they will be put up for adoption, and, if not adopted, humanely euthanized.”
Kathy then described a recent conversation she had with a woman attending a pet adoption event.
“I was explaining that all of our foster pets are vetted prior to their adoption. The woman grimaced and then declared: ‘God did not intend for animals to be spayed or neutered.’ All I could tell her in response was that God did not intend for pets to suffer due to our overpopulation tragedy nor did He intend for them to be abandoned to die by the side of the road or from some other cruel misfortune.”
Cradling a sweet little Shih tzu-Maltese in her arms, adopted from the Cleveland Animal Shelter and now in her foster care prior to adoption into a screened, forever home, Kathy concluded: “Yes, having a family pet is a financial and emotional commitment.
“Yes, it takes time to vet, feed, water, groom and socialize that pet, but the rewards far outweigh all if this. If you are willing to take on this rewarding challenge, I encourage you to visit the local municipal shelter at 360 Hill St. where there are always many wonderful pets to meet.
“If you don’t find the pet of your dreams at first, keep returning. You will,” she assured with a smile.
Paws up this week to Eddie and Kay Hall; Ashley & Pat Ownby; Tony Donnelly; John Carter of Walgreens; and all who adopted a shelter pet and saved a precious life.
To reach the shelter, call 479-2122. Call me with your pet and wildlife stories, 728-5414.