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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Art, kittens, sneezing, tragedy and hope

So the first good news is that on this Saturday I will be taking my work to the Pet Expo in West Palm beach. I am so looking forward to being able to talk to the many pet lovers about the work that I am doing... I am just finishing up a painting to take - it is the one above. That image is from a photo I took of a dog in the Miami Dade Animal Services in late January. I do not know the fate of that dog... I do not know the fate of most of the thousands of pictures of dogs and cats I have. It can be crippling to think about it- but I must keep my head up and just keep making art -- and slowly but surely more and more people will see this- and see the faces of those that end up tossed aside by our society.. this is what I know how to do- I make art.

Now another thing big event has happened in my life... that being the cat I am now fostering. She became very sick- very sick! I had called the vet to take her in and when I went to put her in the crate I saw that she had her babies. Four tiny little ones- she was so sick that she was not caring for them and I scooped the whole family up and ran to the vet. She has a URI- which is like a very bad cold and spreads quickly in shelters- the poor thing had all kinds of goo running out of her nose and eyes and sounded like Darth Vadar. The vet cleaned up the babies and mentioned that they were too tiny- but seemed strong. Mom cat was given fluids and has been on antibiotics to clear up the sickness - she is doing so much better now and has become an ideal mother! The images above are of her and her babies- so tiny- but now that their mom is getting better- they are growing like weeds!

Now for the tragedy--- today I got word via posts on facebook that the Miami Dade Animal Services was going into lockdown due to illness. At first I thought it was just internet panic.... but it appears that many dogs have distemper... an unconfirmed source says over 50. The shelter is suspending many services and will no longer take in owner surrenders. They are going to do a massive clean- but what does that mean for the animals? Evidently that means that for now the cats are ok... what it means that there is great fear that the dogs not adopted or fostered out today will die. It is hard to know for sure.

One news source stated that there are over 500 dogs/puppies in the shelter right now. That number is insane- really. The news has stated that the director is saying there will be no mass kill off- but then what will they do with the hundreds of dogs not saved today? They say that dogs and puppies will be adopted out as normal with a disclaimer for possible distemper- will they all be tested upon entry to the shelter or prior to adoption? If no owner surrenders are allowed- then what will happen to the hundreds of dogs and cats surrendered each week to the shelter. It all just leaves so many questions to be answered. One thing I do know is that the entire day I have seen non stop posting on the subject on my facebook feed. I do know that at this very moment rescue groups all over the area are scrambling to save who they can from the shelter and that there has been much begging for foster care today.

Here is what I do know also- when I began this art project a few years ago it was at an animal shelter in rural TN. At the time the shelter had a incredibly high kill rate and there were times when the animals picked up infections- they spread and then many died in mass kills to stop the spread. However, during my time there things were changing under a new director. The mass kills stopped and the place became cleaner. As I volunteered there I worked with the dogs/cats who were to be transported and we were taught and hounded on to be vigilant with washing our hands and disinfecting our shoes as we entered the area. I worked with many cases of parvo puppies in that area and many cases of URIs in cats/kittens. We did lose some - but not many. As most shelters they needed more volunteers/money/ and support-- but unlike many shelters such as MDAS they stopped killing when parvo broke out- they contained it- they fought it and they often won. So that leaves me with hope. Things look bleak right now for the Miami shelter.. but I have seen things turn around elsewhere and I know it can happen in Miami.. So I have hope.

Here is a rescue group working on saving the dogs and puppies from this situation- I know there are many- I am sure they could use some extra financial help right now- please donate if you are able.

This group is who I am fostering through- they are very determined to save as many cats/kittens at they can in the shelter.

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