Howdy! I am glad to see you all are hanging on despite my sporadic blogging behaviors. I wanted to say hello and to let you all know I am doing much better this week. This has a lot to do with my very loving friends and fans who had nothing but kind and supportive words (and chocolate) for me. It also has to do with the two adorable kittens I adopted from a local shelter.
I ought to say three. Three kittens. Unfortunately one of the original set of kittens tested positive for FIV, feline AIDS. Thank the universe and its kind nature that Susan M. was with me that day, trying to cheer me up...poor thing. Instead she had to help me go through my first ever act of euthanizing an animal. You can imagine what I was like. Bawling, heartbroken... disastrously depressed. I stayed with the poor little thing through it all, and Susan stayed with me. How honored I am to be treasured with such a good friend. How blessed we were to have known that sweet purring spirit, even if for only a few hours.
Then I got my mad on. The shelter made me furious. It was the first time I had ever seen such lax practices. No testing? No paperwork for the adoption process? Not even a phone call to see if I was a responsible human? Anyone could walk in there and take however many animals they wanted without so much as a question. The only thing I signed was a paper exempting them from responsibility if the animal tested ill. Ass covering at its finest. Oh, and checks. I signed checks. Now I don't mind paying a fortune for the benefit of some feline babies...anyone who knows me knows how much I love cats, but clearly all they cared about was covering their costs so they didn't lose money on housing the creature until they could foist it off on another.
Here's the thing. The shelter's attitude? Their first responsibility is animal control. They had an enormous map behind the front desk, the county sectioned off and the names of the male enforcement officers who manned each section. It was clear looking at their spiffy uniforms, new facilities and pretty trucks that this was where the focus of their funding and their interest lay. In a nutshell, this was NOT an animal shelter. This was a animal control and law enforcement facility. You see, an animal shelter shelters the animals first. Protects them, cares for them, and doesn't give them only ten days to live before euthanizing them. This one cat, a black furry thing who was so desperate for love and attention he threw himself against the bars of his cage repeatedly and meowed like crazy...when I noted he had gunk in his eyes and he might have an infection, the woman who manned the desk gasped and hushed me. "No. No. He's just depressed and not grooming himself. Don't say that or they will put him down if they think he has an infection."
HUH?!? What happened to a few eye drops and a little petting time? Put a cat down because it has a small flaw?? No. No this is NOT an animal 'shelter'. It's a death machine. And the volunteer groups that have been trying to rescue these animals before euthanasia...working their butts off to foster them and bring them into the local Petsmarts to help find them loving and good homes (I had to fill out a LOT of paperwork for them and was turned down for having too many cats! An idea I could understand and appreciate.) But this 'shelter' shut its doors to all volunteers and volunteer groups, refusing them access even to take pictures of the animals for flyers and websites to help in getting them adopted. The 'shelter' claimed some sort of insurance issues and that they couldn't be responsible...yadda yadda yadda...the unsaid meaning clearly that, once again, covering their asses was far more important to them than the lives of these poor creatures. Shelters all over the USA work in tandem with volunteers and other groups to facilitate adoptions. Why is it so impossible for the Hendersonville County Animal Shelter at 828 Stoney Mountain Rd in Hendersonville, NC 28791-1349 to achieve the same synchronicity with those caring outside groups who would help them save lives? Why is it they are only open from 9:30 to 4:30 weekdays (during average work hours only) and only open from 9:30 to 11:30 on a Saturday? (BY THE WAY: the times on the site are a lie. I originally went to adopt on the previous Saturday around 1pm thinking they would still be open. They were closed.) That means that the average 9-5 worker only has a two hour window each week in which to save the life of a potential pet. Two hours. Ten day lifespans. I am not making this math up or spinning it my way. It's simple logic. This 'shelter' is interested in animal control first. Adoptions are only a secondary byproduct. It's shameful. Horrifying.
Back to my story. You see, my two original kittens were in the same cage together. At 8 weeks and 6 weeks old, it was clear they weren't from the same litter. But anyone who has seen how rough and tumble kittens are and how sharp their claws are knows the odds of them biting or clawing each other to the point of drawing blood is very high. It was a miracle the second kitten didn't test positive for FIV as well. I have to retest him in four months just to be sure just the same. How irresponsible!! Putting two unrelated, untested kittens in the same cage?! The lack of concern and basic knowledge for contamination issues (it could have been the very viral Feline Leukemia instead, an automatic death sentence for them BOTH at that point) is appalling. Worse yet, they know full well how easily they can be contaminated...but just didn't care.
After putting my new kitten on his path over the rainbow bridge, I marched back to the 'shelter' to give them a bit of my New York attitude, to find out how long the kittens had been together, and to warn them to warn others who had adopted from that kitten's litter of the contamination. To be fair, the woman behind the desk was horrified that I had to put the kitten down. She had considered getting him for her own daughter. I was also glad she had dodged the bullet. I also noted that she knew the name of the person who had adopted the kitten's litter mate without even looking it up. Here, at least, was an individual worthy of 'sheltering' these poor creatures. She was the one who hushed me to save the life of that poor black cat. I am almost afraid to mention it because I fear she will get in trouble for her clandestine attempts to do what the entire 'shelter' should be doing. To that end, I will not mention her name. She hastened to offer me a replacement kitten. I was ready to lash back at her for that. You cannot replace one spirit with another like that! This isn't like trading in a faulty toilet paper roll at Walmart! But out of the corner of my eye, through the open glass, I saw two kittens tumbling and playing around in a cage, at the start of their ten days (I knew because I had not seen them the day before) and with no volunteer groups availed the opportunity to help them. I knew it was a risk. These too could test positive for some disease...but before I knew it I was holding one in my hands and thinking: "Better a fifty fifty chance with me and my tests than the odds it has here."
So, I took the boy of the pair to my doctor. Thankfully, he tested negative to everything but roundworms and FLEAS. Yes, both of my new kittens were infested with fleas and worms! The 'shelter' didn't even treat them for these simple parasites! GAH! It makes me so mad!! And I hope it makes you mad, too. Mad enough to maybe write them. Mad enough to support what I am about to do.
Recently, Amy, my beautiful and talented Fan Club President, made up a gorgeous basket of Nightwalker promotional items. I have the pictures here:
Inside this adorable basket are items such as signed copies of Jacob and Gideon, signed book covers, an "I spend my nights with the Nightwalkers!" nightshirt, a "Curl up with a GOOD Demon!" book cover to protect your paperbacks as you read them, and many more goodies, as well as the basket itself and its seasonal decorations. Want it? Oh, I know that you do. And this is a good thing because for a mere five dollars a chance, you can buy the opportunity to win this basket. I have limited it to 100 chances. If I sell every chance, I will make 500 dollars to be donated to a 501 c3 organization known as Animal Compassion Network (ACN). As I understand it, 98 percent of the funds donated go directly to resources for the animals they foster and rescue. They are a NO KILL organization. This is local to me and a much better alternative than the County run machines who would rather be part of the problem instead of a compassionate part of the solution. Being from New York, I am much more used to a different level of care and concern...a level I believe the ACN has achieved.
In order to sell these chances to you, I had intended to use EBay, but they have a policy restricting the use of EBay for raffles and chance drawings. So I am left with no choice but to do this directly, from here, using my business account. Simply make a check payment for five dollars per chance that you wish to buy out to Jacquelyn's Boutique and mail it to my new post office box address: Jacquelyn's Boutique (or Jacquelyn Frank if you prefer, either will be fine) P.O. Box 2164 Skyland, NC 28776. Or, you can make a Paypal payment to Jacquelyn's Boutique using the email firstname.lastname@example.org. Once I receive your payment I will issue you chance numbers from one to one hundred via email. The winning number will be randomly chosen on November 15th (plenty of time to use that gorgeous little basket on the Thanksgiving table!)and posted here for everyone to see. Amy will send the basket out shortly afterward. I will let you know how many chances actually sold and how much money we were able to raise for ACN. I will also keep you apprised along the way. :) Also, if I get checks above the allotted 100, I will return them unopened to you. Any questions? Just ask me at email@example.com. You know I will respond to you ASAP.
Together you and I can make a small dent in the much needed resources for the ACN. We can save kitty lives, spay and neuter, give shots...eye drops. Love.
In New York if I had run an organization that kept animals infested with disease, fleas and parasites in cages and then killed them in a manner likened to mass murder, I'd have been arrested for animal cruelty. What I wouldn't give to subject the Hendersonville County Animal 'Shelter' to the standards of New York law. However, since I cannot, I will undermine them much better this way!!
But now for a more cheerful touch to my little story and pet adventure.
I would love for you guys to meet the newest members of my kitty family. The grey and white striped kitty is named Malcolm, after a certain captain of a certain ship named Serenity. Mal is adventurous, a scrapper, warm on his own terms and the funniest little bugger I ever met. The black one is named Magellan, after a very famous explorer, because he was the first to scale the baby gate blocking the door to their room and venture out into the scary unknown in spite of the fact that he is a huge fraidy cat! LOL. I adore him for that mixture of bravery and cowardice. He is a very different spirit than the kitten he was meant to 'replace'.
But that kitten will not be forgotten. Not by me or Susan or, I daresay, anyone here who has read his unfortunate little story. I never had the chance to name him, but I am doing so now. His name is Oliver, after a famous unfortunate orphan. Rest peacefully, Oliver. We'll see you again whenever you decide to return to us and try again.
And one last touch to send this home:
Cambridge Dictionary definition of SHELTER:
shelter (PROTECT) noun [C or U](a building designed to give) protection from bad weather, danger or attack
Wikipedia's definition of "Animal Shelter"
An animal shelter is a facility that houses homeless, lost or abandoned animals; primarily a large variety of dogs and cats. The animal is kept at the shelter until it is either reclaimed by an owner, adopted to a new owner or placed with another organization. In the past, they were more commonly referred to as "dog pounds", a term which had its origins in the pounds of agricultural communities, where stray cattle would be penned up until claimed by their owners.
Well, it seems Hendersonville meets the bare minimum. Perhaps. It depends on opinion I suppose. This has been mine.