During the recovery period following Hurricane Harvey, there has been an outpouring of support from communities and organizations far beyond Texas’ borders. It’s a generosity that A Life to Live and the animals that we serve got to experience firsthand.
Among those who extended a helping hand was Alley Cat Allies, a global cat advocacy organization based in Bethesda, Maryland. Not only did they provide an emergency grant of $2,500 to help us with rescue and relief supplies and veterinary fees, but they also dispatched a disaster response team to our area.
“Alley Cat Allies has a global Feral Friends Network, with many of them in Texas and Louisiana. There are thousands of feral cat groups and caregivers as well as veterinarians who we knew would need help and supplies since Hurricane Harvey was so devastating. Our donors have also been supporting us through emergency disaster funds. When we saw what was happening after the hurricane, including the widespread flooding and devastation, we thought that we could be of help and bring in supplies from out of state,” said Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies.
“The team we sent are cat-trapping experts and bilingual, which is important for that area. They were eager to go and did not hesitate.”
Clay Myers, Daniel Lopez Brena and Kim Kean arrived in Baytown on Sept. 3 with two vehicles full of supplies, including traps, cat carriers, leashes, cat food, kitty litter, water, blankets and towels. They also came with an eagerness to lend their expertise as we faced a challenge with community cats.
Through our Good Felines program, we regularly work with feral cats that live outdoors in colonies. Despite what many people believe, these cats can live long, healthy and happy lives outdoors. Their populations can be humanely maintained through trap, spay/neuter, return programs that save lives, diminish the breeding cycle and build community.
Hurricane Harvey brought more community cats than ever into the open. So on Labor Day morning, the Alley Cat Allies contingent joined a team of volunteers from A Life to Live to visit a Baytown neighborhood that sustained major flooding from nearby Cedar Bayou.
“I have two cats and three dogs of my own, plus I’ve been feeding several other cats from the neighborhood. But after the hurricane hit, a lot more cats appeared. At one point, I counted about 15. That’s when I reached out to A Life to Live for assistance,” said Randa Faycal, who has lived in her neighborhood since 1999.
We spent several hours trapping 12 cats, which later were transported to the Spay-Neuter Assistance Program in Houston. The cats were spayed or neutered, vaccinated, ear-tipped (the universal symbol for an altered cat) and micro-chipped, all free of charge.
After recovering the cats were returned to their outdoor homes, where they are cared for by compassionate individuals. Although, one of the cats did surprise us by giving birth to five beautiful kittens at the clinic. We found a foster home for mama and her babies, ensuring they will receive the veterinary care and socialization they need.
“Alley Cat Allies is the only global advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and improving cats’ lives. Their professional guidance for TNR and colony management has been the foundation of our growing TNR program,” said Magan Gonzales, program director for A Life to Live and founder of Good Felines.
“We are incredibly grateful to Alley Cat Allies for teaming up with us and personally guiding us through our first large trap. Our Good Felines team has worked hard to advocate and care for cats in our community. With our friends from Alley Cat Allies, we have been able to make an even bigger impact.”
For more information on Alley Cat Allies, go to www.alleycat.org.
Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.