I have a story for you! It would be called “A shelter who got it right!”
The shelter is Randolph County Humane Society animal shelter and it is located in Elkins, WV. The manager of this shelter is Kelly Scheideggar and she has been here for 11 years. This shelter is a very very low kill shelter, with low operating budget, in a fairly rural setting. The shelter manager has turned this place into a safe haven for lost pets, whereas before her arrival, it was a pet killing facility…(90% kill rate in the past – NOW less than 10%!!!)
This weekend we had an incident that reinforced my respect for her and I want to share this story with you.
What happens when the early morning worker at a small local shelter (humane capacity probably around 90-100 dogs and cats both) comes to work before the sun is up and finds approximately 30 cats abandoned in the parking lot? Finds cats crammed inside of boxes together? Finds cat running loose in the parking lot?
What does the manager of this shelter do after she and other staff rush to work early, and capture these cats? What does she do after evaluating and checking these animals in? After she takes account of how many cats are already in the shelter? After she realizes how far over humane holding capacity these 30 cats will put the shelter?
If your answer is to do what many large, more well funded shelters would do – to start looking over the list of cats who are already in the shelter, and determine who has been there the longest and decide who gets killed to make room for the new comers, then the answer is WRONG!
What this manager did as soon as she was able, was to go to the internet and make a plea for help via Facebook. Yes, Shirley, a plea to the public (gasp -yes I said public) for help was made – asking for what? Funds to buy Fatal Plus? NOPE. A plea went out for food, litter, crates, and yep – foster homes, and adopters!
(Here is a copy of that plea from Facebook) ——-
ATTENTION FACEBOOK FANS – WE ARE IN AN EMERGENCY SITUATION!
When we arrived at the shelter this morning, we found that over 30 cats and kittens had been dumped in the shelter parking lot by a heartless individual during the night. We have captured most of these precious babies, but are still in the process of seeing if there are any more out there.
Right now, we desperately need crates, food and litter to take care of these little ones. Once they are checked in and evaluated, we are asking for foster homes and adopters.
Please facebook fans, if you can help in any manner, call the shelter at 304-636-7844!
And guess what went into motion? Was the plea ignored? Was it a demand that cats be killed ? (After all, many say the public is not able to think of things to do to help and some even say that, all people are evil cat haters who should never have a pet or know how to take care of one) Nope – here’s what happened in brief -
Within literally minutes, phone calls to the shelter started coming in, and Facebook messages with offers of help were received. People wanted to know what time the shelter would open so they can come out, help, and perhaps adopt.
Sleeping kitten, safe at the Randolph Co Humane Society in WV. (Photo provided by Vicki Aucremanne.)
People (yes Shirley, the irresponsible public) start coming to the shelter with food, litter, crates, bedding and more. Within the hour of the plea going out!
Cars rolled in – handing the staff food and supplies. Bags of cat food, kitty litter and more. Crates….
People drove up and handed the staff checks…
A little girl took her birthday present money and bought cat food!
A statewide cat rescue (PURR WV) came on the scene within two hours to assess the situation and offer assistance, taking 12 cats.
A national disaster organization (IFAW) was alerted via PURRWV to help if needed.
Throughout the weekend, the public continued to bring in food, litter, and other cat necessities.
By Sunday, other offers of help from other cat rescues are coming in from as far away as New Jersey. Donations are coming from Amazon.com from places like VA!
2 cats were adopted and 1 cat was reclaimed over the weekend. Others went into foster care. The shelter is down closer to its usual capacity. There is food, litter, and more available with promise of more on the way.
At no time ever over this long weekend, was killing the cats – any cat, long term or “new comer” – an option or even mentioned. NEVER… not one time…. ever… it was not even in anyone’s thought processes. EVER. Instead it was team work between the shelter manager, her direct care staff, rescue workers, AND the PUBLIC (yes – the public that OTHER shelters call evil and irresponsible).
I know these things to be fact. I was there, as rep of the statewide group, PURR. I saw it happen with my own eyes. I am proud of our local shelter for doing what they did. They got it right. Today as I write, cats have been adopted. Yes, other cats are at the local shelter still needing homes, but still very much protected (as a shelter should!) and cared for. Other cats have gone home to new families, some are at the rescue, others in foster care. But they are all alive…. thanks to a shelter manager, who gets it right!
Here is the follow up Facebook message from the manager – this was just 9 hours after the initial plea went out:
Wow, what a great, caring and compassionate community we have. The out pouring of help today was nothing short of awesome. To all of you who brought food and supplies up, saying Thank You just doesn’t seem like enough. Please know that we are so grateful for the kindness you showed to the abandoned cats and kittens. To the familes who came up and adopted and fostered, you truly made a difference. To Dan and Vicki Aucremanne and our Friends at PURR WV, you ROCK ! Thank you so very much for your assistance. As far as we know, there is only one cat left that we have not been able to catch, we have left food, water, and shelter out for her, hopefully tomorrow we’ll be able to coax her in. All of the others are safe, warm, and have have full bellies. God Bless All of You !!! ~Kelly~
And another follow up. The search is now on for the child who gave her birthday money – if only we could find her. All the help is deeply appreciated, but this selfless act by a child needs a hug!
Good morning facebook friends. The ‘dust is slowly settling’ after this weekends emergency situation involving the many cats who were abandoned at our door step. In the midst of the hectic activity that was going on Saturday morning and afternoon, we failed to get the name of someone who made a very special donation to help these homeless and abandoned kitties. We were told that a little girl had used her birthday present money to buy food to bring to the shelter for these cats. We want to send you a very special thank you for doing this! And we would love for you to contact us – we would love to give you a hug for doing such a kind thing. Your act of kindness has helped us to be able to help these formerly abandoned kitties.
Rescuers catch a loose cat outside the Randolph Co Humane Society in WV. (Photo provided by Vicki Aucremanne.)
Here is the link to the shelter’s Facebook page:
Their number is 304-636-7844
The manager is Kelly Scheideggar. She deserves a hug and more. She is the true leader of the “Little Shelter who got it right”
Thanks so much for reading this. I thought a good shelter story would bring us all some happiness – and since it is Thanksgiving. I will say, thankfulness, that there are folks who are doing sheltering well and doing it right!
Thank you for sending in this story Vicki. It’s a good reminder of the things all no kill advocates can be thankful for today and every day – shelters that shelter, leaders who lead, rescuers who rescue and of course the so-called irresponsible public.