Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dancing down the tree

I love birdwatching.   Admittedly its a distraction to have my desk facing the back bird feeders, but I'd like to think I'm learning while the screen saver keeps kicking in.
No question about it ... this time of year there is a pretty impressive parade to admire.   In spite of the hawks and the eagles, the summer songbirds still faithfully find their way here and the last couple of years we have even seen a few sparrows starting to come back.  ( The sad topic of how seldom swallows are seen being an obvious measure of how poorly we humans are doing in our self assumed stewardship of this planet is a separate subject for a blog with a different focus than mine ...sigh )
Even in the midst of the summer splendour, my two favourite birds are the little chickadees and the nuthatches.   Chickadees ... like terriers .. have no sense of their size and will bravely feed out of a human hand or perch on the shoulder of the person filling the feeders.
Nuthatches are the masters of seizing the overlooked opportunity.  For years I used to wonder why they were the only ones working their way down the trees headfirst.  The answer is so elegant and simple ... they are ferreting out the tidbits missed by the other birds going UP the trees. 
Well then .... no wonder they are so adept at dancing down the tree! 
There is not a single day when there are not sad pictures of abandoned and injured cats either on facebook or in emails from folks in the animal loving community.   Not one single day goes by without starving or injured kittens and cats ... some so flea ridden their bathwater runs red with blood.  Not one single day.
One of the beautiful things about pet adoption is the domino effect.   Everytime a pet is adopted all the adopters friends, family, neighbours and coworkers wake up to the many benefits of pet adoption.  People find out firsthand what a good buy the adoption fee is ... how reassuring it is to have a pet that comes with a health check instead of a curbside guarantee and of course the obvious fact that every adorable adoptable is an awesome and appealing ambassador.
Is pet adoption the whole solution?  Nope ... not even close.   Low cost / high volume spay neuter clinics like the proposal that the society presented to the HRM Council in January of this year will play a critical part of the solution. 
Without strong voter feedback, municipal councillors and MLA's will continue to to toss responsibility for this around like a hot potatoe ... trying to use the old dodge that it would be fiscally irresponsible to support either TNR or a good SNAP.
But pet adoption DOES have to be promoted more aggressively for the cats, and not simply because their numbers are just ever so much higher than the dogs.  From my birds eye view in maintaining the homeless pet site, I have seen some cats literally grow up 'in care'.  In some instances, there are cats that have literally been tying up safe rescue slots since before the homeless pet site was created.
And before the keyboards catch on fire, I am NOT suggesting that anyone start killing cats in their care.   But at the risk of sounding like a stuck record ... if rescues cannot afford to drop adoption fees for their cats then it is way past time to consider off site adoption events for their cats.
Cat only adoption events have proven particularly successful because they are quieter so the adopters are more inclined to stay and meet the kitties.  And of course, at the end of the day, the cats can 'sell' themselves if they are only given half a chance.
There is no downside  to boosting cat adoptions.  Every cat adopted from a responsible group is not going be part of the problem.   Every adoption 'undercuts the competition' of the free to a good homes. And of course last but not least it enables groups to save more lives instead of simply providing sanctuary for a few.
What time is it?  As long as there is 'no room at the inn' there is no excuse for not trying offsite cat adoptions.

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