March 13, 2019

Questioning SAVE’s Policy on Cats, With SAVE Director’s Response

To the Editor:

I am angry! I am also humiliated and perplexed! Let me explain….

My husband and I decided we wanted to adopt a cat — preferably an adult cat, who would have a more difficult road to a permanent home than a kitten. So we automatically turned to SAVE, since we have a long-time relationship with them.  We have been generous donors, attending fundraising events and sending annual donation checks.  We live on a farm so when a SAVE board members asked, we agreed to shelter and feed any feral cats that they felt were unsuitable for adoption. We have received over 20 in the past and a number of them still reside in and around our barns. Along with the feral cats, we also provide homes for unwanted animals from the entire area, resulting in pastures containing emus, llamas, miniature donkeys, and retired horses.

Last week, I visited SAVE to meet the cats and to submit our application. Since we had already adopted our last cat from SAVE, I assumed the application was just a formality. Imagine my surprise, then, when my husband and I returned to make our final choice, only to be told that our application was rejected. And the reason? We have a doggy door!  The director told us that SAVE’s policy was not to allow adoption if there was any chance that a cat could get outside. As the parent of numerous cats in the past, I can attest to the ability of a cat who wants to go out to do just that.  And they don’t need a doggy door — a child leaving the door open, workmen coming in and out … we all know this is true.  So the cat that we wanted to bring into a loving home — to play with, cuddle and enjoy — is still living in a cage, allowed out a few minutes a day.

What is wrong with this picture?

Don’t get me wrong. I think SAVE does an admirable job saving the lives of unwanted or abandoned cats and dogs. But surely their secondary purpose should be finding these animals loving homes.  In this respect, I think they are failing.

Mary Medina

SAVE’s Response:

To the Editor:

Shelters and rescues often find themselves under criticism for their pet adoption policies and procedures. To some, we adopt too easily and to others, the process is too arduous. At SAVE, every cat and dog in our care is treated as an individual. It is a luxury we have as a medium sized, limited intake shelter that is not supported by federal, state, or local taxes. We do our best by every single pet. They are not a number, they are a name and they are loved. Our adoption policies are based on industry best practices and in alignment with the outcomes desired by our board, staff, and volunteers. We are proud to share we adopted 600 cats and dogs in 2018, which is 80 more than the previous year. And this year, in the month of February alone, we adopted 54 cats into their forever homes (SAVE has capacity for approximately 75-85 cats).

We recognize and understand the disappointment of the Medinas. We shared a lengthy discussion on indoor versus outdoor cats.  With feral cats on the property, it is important to keep the “house” cat(s) fully indoors and completely separate for their health and safety. We did show them several cats who were known to previously be indoor/outdoor cats in their former households and they were not interested in any of them. It is our goal and number one priority to find the best home for every pet in our care and we were not able to come to a mutually agreed option for the Medinas. SAVE was simply upholding our standards and policies. We invited them to come back in hopes of finding a match. We hope everyone will choose to adopt don’t shop and save the lives of two pets. The one you adopt and the one who takes their place.

Heather Achenbach
Executive Director, SAVE