Before OCPAW, I worked hard to start a business and raise and enjoy my family. I was not aware of things not brought to my attention, so I will never forget the moment when visiting New York City, where I was staying on the 9th floor of a hotel, sipping coffee and enjoying the skyline. Suddenly, a large tractor trailer passed below my window, pulling a large container with no roof or cover. It caught my eye as my brain initially could not understand what it was seeing. It was filled with something with beautiful colors, standing out against the gray of the city. People were on the streets below, going about their business, unaware of what was passing them and that they were walking beside the vehicle, but at their level, they could not see what I was seeing. It was a container filled with dead dogs, the hairs of their vibrant coats still blowing softly in the breeze that carried their bodies to the landfill. So if you don't see it, does that make it not exist? But then, if you do, then what? Now that you are aware, are you going to do something about it?
The start of the direction of my journey.
In 2009 I received a call from some neighbors who found an abandoned puppy who was hiding in a concrete storm drain. Unfortunately, no one could reach him, so animal control was called the following day to help. They sent me a photo of the pup, and I immediately started posting the situation for help. We found an adopter immediately and contacted the Shelter, but at that time, there was a five-day hold on lost animals. When making arrangements after the hold time, we were told the puppy was no longer available, with no explanation. Later speaking with a manager, I was told the puppy had died of Parvo. I knew little about Parvo then and how life-threatening it was; even so, no immunizations were given to incoming animals, but that is a story for another day. What is important now is that many changes have been made by folks who care to make a difference. I still use his photo on our business cards to remind me that people can make a difference when awareness is met with action.
At first, I was trying to help find homes for the many dogs scheduled weekly to be euthanized at the animal shelter. It was hectic, with rescues coming every Thursday to try and pull dogs that had a large black x on their cages. Lin Lively spent many hours organizing the shelter statistical information to help me produce the documentation necessary to bring information before the Onslow Board of Commissioners. This voluminous documentation showed the Shelter's lack of compliance with NC state ordinances, which caused thousands of animals to be killed yearly, with the cats having the worst statistical outcome. Then Commissioner Bill Keller helped OCPAW by believing that change was necessary after he reviewed our documents. After a presentation to the Board of Commissioners, they took control and started implementing change for the animals brought into the Shelter. I recently visited the Shelter and was genuinely amazed at all the changes that have occurred since 2010 and the management of the current Director, Stephanie Switzer.
I never knew what a feral cat was, but it seems we have many of them here in NC. And throughout the southern states. Perhaps you see them in the background as just a nuisance, turn your head and keep walking. Others believe mass euthanasia is the answer; however, the successful one is the TNR programs (Trap Neuter Release) that have statistically proven to help control the feral population. OCPAW is currently assisting these folks in lending drop traps to them and making feral spay/neuter vouchers available for only a fee of $15.00 per cat.
Everyone should have their companion animals spayed/neutered to prevent unwanted suffering and euthanasia, so we provide vouchers for Onslow residents; see our website www.oc-paw.com for details. Also needed is an aggressive County TNR program for ferals., currently OCPAW also has feral vouchers available.
Achieving this goal will require those who are now aware of making a choice and be involved in making a difference.
Part of Issue 20: