Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Responsibility of Serving Others

On Friday April 19, after getting my courage up, i took 2 feral cats we’ve spent months working on socializing, to the closest clinic that will provide spay/neuter services to ferals.  When you live in rural areas options are limited for these services and you count on the ones that are available.

I paid extra not to have their ears tipped. I have been teetering on the edge of just taking them in and making our house a 4 feline abode so I wanted their ears left intact. I left them there after requesting an early pickup of 1230pm instead of 430pm since I live some distance away.

By 1240pm they were in the car and I had paid the bill and donated $10 extra and said a million thanks.

On the way home I had to roll the window down the smell of urine in the car was so extreme. I just assumed they’d set the carrier in some piss or something. When I got them locked in my office at home and opened the carrier doors I was horrified to discover that they were dripping urine off their fur.

When I say dripping I mean as if you poured a bucket of urine over them. I was so stunned I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t open the door or the windows and we were all gagging on the stench.  I was able to pet the younger one that we call Junah a few moments. He was less wet because his carrier had a cloth bottom (destroyed by the urine soaking into the inner wood core aloss of $45.00).

I had to get towels, they were dripping urine on the carpet and had flung it onto my pastels (a loss of $50.00 as the urine soaked into them). I thought I was opening the door fast enough but Junah escaped, running so fast for the cat door I couldn’t catch him.  More upset now that the young one, only a few hours out of surgery, was now loose in the neighborhood and as the reality of how they’d been treated started to sneak in I stopped crying and began to get angry.

I got the towels and spread them around. The older one we call Hoot is still untouchable but at least he could sit on a towel and drip. He was already trying to clean himself, cheeks up in disgust.  The stench in the room was making my eyes water, I felt so bad for him with the more sensitive senses and I was crying again worrying about Junah stumbling around outdoors. I was just grateful it was a relatively warm day.

I left a long message for Every Creature Counts, the clinic that had done the deed. I thought back to the over 25 or more animals I’ve taken in for surgery throughout my pet owning life and no, I had never once gotten one back wet and certainly not neglected to this extent. I struggled with my emotions which ranged from sorrow and regret to guilt for taking them there to rage at people who would allow this to happen to a vulnerable animal.

And while being soaked in urine for hours is not the worst that could have happened (they could have died from bad care) but it calls into question – what else is happening in that clinic? Are other animals dying? Are the clinic conditions sterile at all?  Who is monitoring this place and when is the last time they took a look?

It is now Monday evening and it took this long to find the right agency in which to report the negligence. ECC did not return my call.  I have posted negative reviews and I will be following up with every agency I can find.

I am not a grievance filer. I will call and complain about bad service and I will also call and compliment the good. I have donated an art gift certificate to their fundraising efforts and wasn’t offered a ticket to the event or ever told what happened to it. I let that go because I know what non-profits are like. I put up with their spotty communication when I’ve had questions in the past. I ignored the other bad reviews.

This one I am not letting go. I can’t.

When we take our animals to vets and children to doctors and dentists we expect that they will be treated well. We have to trust that what needs to be done will be done. I find it hard leaving any animal at the vet, they can’t tell me how it went, Hoot and Junah didn’t need words to let me know that no one had cared for their well-being and comfort.

Although pets aren’t property in my mind vets are invested with a fiduciary responsibility to the animals they agree to treat. Not only vets but all the staff from the receptionist to the board members to the licensing boards and the owners of the clinics.  We are giving them lives that are precious to us and we expect that responsibility will be taken seriously.

When we take our animals in, we are handing over pieces of our hearts to people we sometimes don’t know. At ECC I’ve never even seen the vet and although the last 2 animals I took in were fine, it was a different vet from this one who couldn’t even accurately estimate the cats ages.  The other vet could.

Just because a clinic is low cost should not mean our animals get low service.  These 2 cats have led hard and painful lives so far. Their experiences with us as humans have been mixed. Lately they’ve had it good, regular food, shelter from the elements and an invitation to move indoors which they both took over the course of several months and now they’ve experienced what they expected all along. Carelessness and callous disregard.

This changes what I can do in our community for Trap-Neuter-Return as now the closest clinic is an hour away versus 20 minutes.  It also costs more which means less animals get TNR services.  This is disappointing on so many levels.

Lesson? Don’t ignore bad reviews on Google and Yelp. Ask to meet the vet first, talk to some prior clients. CHECK THE ANIMALS STATUS BEFORE YOU LEAVE!  And if you fall victim to an incident like this report it, It has been time consuming leaving calls with agencies to find the right avenue but do it – the animals have no voice.

We must be the vox felina and canis and we must speak for them all the time without fail.  We too are responsible for those we agree to serve.

And so you know, Hoot and Junah (who returned 8 hours later) stunk of urine for two days.  Their incisions are adequate and they are recovering nicely in spite of their neglectful care.  Thank you to everyone, again, for all the support for these cats! Image


Wind Chimes and Silent Snow

Weight of the world day,

Explosions rock our sense of security,


While we wrestle with dread of gun registries,

As if we fear our own government,

More than any Al Qaeda.

More than any Bin Laden,

We worry what those we put in charge,

Will do or not do,

To us and for us.

As if having a secret gun in the closet,

Will save us from tanks,

Or worse,

And more real,

The slow erosion of our freedoms,

Happening right under our noses.

The bankers are still making their,

Multi-million dollar bonuses,

And I will never see the end of student loan debt,

No rest for the wicked possibly.

The cries of the wrong things,

The frightening things,

Are stunning and loud,

My ears cannot bear the noise,

The screams,

The shattering glass,

The shattered faith.

I follow a cat out into the night,

For I can think of nothing better to do,

Having gorged on too much Huffington Post,

And done time in the Twitter-verse.

It’s freezing outside,


Which at first only adds to the despairing breeze,

Until a thread of wind chimes,

Soft in the distance,

Winds through the madness of the day,

Quiets the mind just enough,

To take a full breath,

To remember where true security resides,

To hear only,

The silent snow.

copyright Michelle Wolff 2013chimes

Oh Ginny NaPoWriMo #6

A room of her own?
Oh how unromantic you are,
Virginia Woolf.

Really Ginny?

A room all your own?

Then I grew up.

A room of my own?
Oh what a wise woman you are,
Virginia Woolf.

Yes, please.

On second thought…

Make that a house. dreamcabin

copyright Michelle Wolff 2013

Middle of the Night Madness NaPoWriMo #5

I watch a raggedy mother cat coaxing her 2 kittens into our house,
Because whatever hunts out there tonight has all the animals twitching.
She runs back and forth,
From the tool shed where they hide, to our door.
They are too scared to follow and she meows and meows while both our hearts break.

She caught between tool shed and safety.
I caught between all the Need,
Inside and out.

The wind blows as we chase away
Several huge tomcats,
Drawn by the ruckus and the pans of food,
Which in this moment,
I regret ever putting outside.

I spin helplessly in the breeze,
The sound of wind chimes a background melody to the ongoing,
Never ending fight for survival.

Not for the first time I wonder why.
Not for the first time I wonder who exactly I am trying to save.

You who I watched in ignorance,
Slipping away in a methamphetamine haze?
You who walked straight toward disaster?
You who I tried and failed to impact?
All the you’s who no longer exist?

Mama cat stands guard, the still blowing wind parting her fur.
At some point I have to shut the door.
At some point this story ends,
They always do.
It’s just hard when you’re not the One doing the writing.

copyright Michelle Wolff 2013

The Rejecting Silence NaPoWriMo #4

We’ve all been there,
Made a comment,
Sent an email,
Or way back when written a letter,
That went unanswered,
Utterly ignored,
Your answer a cavernous,

I had a friend once,
He said he had to understand,
His personal rejections,
Not always being everyone’s cup of tea,
I suppose there were many.
Obsession was all,
Questioning everyone for,

As if you ever could,
Understand rejection.
We’re not psychic,
And words utterly fail us for description,
Of internal states,
Which fluctuate,
Wildly and ultimately mean,

copyright Michelle Wolff 2013


The Sticky Teal Ribbon – NaPoWriMo Poem #3

We gather this month of April,
Across the Nation,
And put sticky teal ribbons on our clothing.
To say in whatever way we can,
We know what has happened to you,
Victims and Survivors of Rape,
If we haven’t experienced it,
Or prefer not to discuss it,
We know those who have.
We know them in excess.
Mind boggling numbers,
Which if read too often,
Make one look askance at every passing,
Male and wonder,
As if all rapists are men,
Which they are not.
As if all victims are women,
Which they are not.
Thinking about this issue is good.
Speaking up and out is better.
Taking action is best,
But if that’s not possible,
Wearing the sticky teal ribbon,
Is the least we can do,
In this month of April.

Copyright Michelle Wolff 2013

This Spinning World Poem #2 NaPoWriMo

Feral cat Junah grips the floor,
Toes spread,
Claws extended into the rug.
Clearly the world is spinning too fast,
And he must hang on for dear life.
His feeble attempt to slow the pace.

I see friends gripping the rug.
Over scheduled
Overwhelmed and running too fast to stop.
Their eyes roll like wild horses,
Sides heaving in a panic,
To escape the predatory deadlines.

I pet Junah and toss treats.
He relaxes and crunches away.
It will be a few moments before he remembers fear.
If this would work with friends,
I would happily feed them treats too.

copyright Michelle Wolff 2013

NaPoWriMo 30 poems 30 days. Here we go…


It seems the dead follow you around,
Once free of the time space continuum chains.
Unsolicited advice is offered at every turn.
Prattling on about everything,
Are you really going out in that?
Why can’t you be more like your sister, the lawyer?
That’s an interesting haircut.
As if now that they are dead,
You suddenly care what they think.

copyright Michelle Wolff 2013

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