Today we have a guest submission by Judi Basolo in an exclusive report for The Cat’s Meow, describing the story of Eve — a special needs cat — and the rescue mission to get her out of the Okefenokee Humane Society and into a loving furever home. The story was followed closely by many of us on Catster and Facebook.

HUMANE Society? Its Not Always a Pawsative Place

An article by Judi Basolo special to The Cat’s Meow

The minute I saw the place, my heart just sank and I knew this wasnt going to be good, said Jody Butler, a strong willed and skilled rescue-work animal volunteer from North Carolina. It was really extremely depressing! Dogs stuffed onto South Georgia Soil dirt floored pens, a trailer for a make-shift office and I just didnt get a good feeling. You could tell this Humane Society is short on donations and if they do have money theyre surely not spending it! Jody lamented.

Despite lack of a sign saying “Welcome to the Okefenokee Humane Society,” Jody conveyed that her dismal visit this past December 30th did begin with an exciting upbeat mission: to rescue a semi-blind 7-month-old kitten from this high-kill Humane Society in Waycross, Georgia.

Located in Southeast Georgia, Waycross is a town that prides itself for receiving four annual Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards bestowed upon them for the City’s compliance with national standards for governmental budgets, according to their City website. However, its possible that the budget is not being shared with their Humane Society, or so it appeared to Jody on her journey to rescue the special needs kitten that was not for her own home.

Desirous of adding a blind cat to her flourishing feline family, Minnesota resident Terry Morinville (photo at right with Skeezix) posted on her Facebook page last October, would like to give a home to a blind cat. From there correspondence began, and Terry befriended Jody Butler, who with her husband Danny, has 12 special needs cats with leukemia, blindness, deafness and an array of conditions that the normal pet parent would not care to adopt. Jody understands special needs animals, being a long time rescue-work volunteer for the Blind Cat Rescue Sanctuary in St. Pauls, North Carolina.

Terrys aspiration to adopt a blind cat is not unusual, as adopted pets with special needs number well into the hundreds of thousands in the U.S., a sizable but mere number amongst the 150 million cats and dogs owned by people in the country. It definitely takes a special pet parent to adopt and care for these special needs animals, and its a genuine gift that there are miraculous people adding to their families while giving the in need animals a chance at a normal life.

Morinville is an extraordinary pet parent, and she and Jody have been through an amazing journey in a few short weeks — the destination definitely was not what either of them bargained for.

Not long after Terry and Jody began communicating about the blind cats, Jody emailed Terry that she had located a semi-blind kitten whom she named EVE, optimistically hoping to pick the kitten up around Christmas Eve. According to a string of emails with the new Executive Director, Ben, the kitten had resided her entire 7 months at the Okefenokee Humane Society. Sight unseen, Terry emailed back to Jody, I WANT HER!

On a frigid December 30th, the orgs Executive Director met Jody in the murky and muddy driveway of this purported Humane Society, inviting her into his “trailer house” temporary office. Later, he took her cat carrier while disappearing for a while, and eventually returning with the kitten in the carrier. I never saw where the cats were housed as he did not extend an invitation to me to visit that part of the grounds Jody said

When questioned about where are the volunteers for this shelter, Ben said to her We have volunteers come in 2 to 3 days a week to take care of and work with the animals. By the looks of the devastated grounds and inadequate shelter facility, one wonders who is caring for the animals any day of the week, as it is not fitting that animals in a Humane Society’s care be without food, water, or observation on a daily basis.

Baffled and hoping to find out about Eves medical history, Jody inquired as any adoptive parent would. The Director assured her theyd had Eve for 7 months, all her life, but when Jody asked for copies of the medical records and adoption papers, Ben had nothing to give her. I have doubts over this, Jody conveyed, as he told me the former administration didnt keep very good records — so hes pushing their inadequacies onto the former administration while it appears not taking any proactive steps. And apparently not understanding animal care at all.

Simultaneously disgusted and delighted to depart the purported Humane Society, just minutes after leaving the shelter Jody decided shed open the door to the cat carrier and let Eve out in the car. She was startled to find the cat couldnt walk out of the carrier. You cannot tell me that this kitten was not sick at that place and that Ben didnt recognize it when he went to get the cat from wherever he got her.

When questioned by Jody, the Director emailed her saying there was no notice this cat could not walk at the shelter and she seemed fine other than being blind. Seemingly though, something was wrong and had not been noticed or perhaps did the Staff turn a blind eye to this situation with a semi-blind kitten?

Just a day prior to Jodys arrival at the Okefenokee Humane Society, the kitten had been spayed, 7 months after living at the shelter with abundant other cats also not neutered nor spayed. Georgia state law requires that animals be spayed prior to adoption but Eve just wasnt healthy enough prior to December 30th so they claim, to be spayed. Yet, she was deemed by outside Veterinarians to be in a catastrophic and declining state of health hours after her release from the shelter. In Georgia, animals routinely are not spayed until they have an adoptive home but one may question her being in a massive cat shelter with non spayed, non neutered cats could this be adding to the feline population?

Jodys Vet was adamant the Okefenokee Humane Society should have recognized the abundant health issues of the kitten. All 3 vets I took her to said this kitten should have never been spayed because she was too malnourished. One vet said she weighed 2.5 lbs and the other vet said 3 lbs at 7 months of age!

Infirmed and feeble, little Eve also had severe trouble breathing and couldnt stand on her own and would fall over after fighting to breathe. Jody went on and on with horrific stories of Eves pathetic unhealthy conditions – a surprising situation she never contemplated en route to rescue this semi-blind kitten. Seemingly the blindness was the least of Eves problems and Eve ended up one night late in an emergency ward unable to breathe.

Horrible horrible horrible is how Jody describes seeing this minuscule feline suffer for the four days they had Eve. But little Eve was smothered with love, warm hands, kisses, hugs, caring voices and humane treatment something shed apparently never known in her life at the Okefenokee Humane Society. Back at the Vet in Savannah on Dec 30th, she couldnt stand up on the desk. The Vet didnt even want to do blood work on her because he said she was too weak, Jody relayed. That Vet kindly suggested getting her baby food, human food, a mini hot dog, whatever it would take to get food into her extremely malnourished underweight body then they tried the food syringe. The vet was skeptical Eve would survive at all.

Continued tomorrow.

ABOUT JUDI BASOLO: Judi is best known as the crazy cat lady mom to Guido the Italian Kitty (and Yolo and Baci, too). She’s a member of the Cat Writer’s Association and makes her home in San Francisco.