Saturday, February 22, 2014

Happiness Psychology

My daughter and granddaughter recently attended a lecture on Happiness Psychology, given by Harvard Professor Tal Ben-Shahar.

They made it sound so interesting, I had to hear his words for myself.  I totally agree with his approach to happiness, what it is, what it means, what it takes and how we need to experience and work through all of our emotions to be happy. But happiness is more than a passing emotion. I would apply this method to everything we do. Well that is my simplified overview.

Here is a great interview by Big Think with Professor Ben-Shahar. What do you think about achieving happiness?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Battle of the fleas and emotions

Bruce Nance, SPCA Florida community support manager/trapper caught another small cat Thursday. She was covered with fleas -- poor thing -- and he washed her down with flea spray before before making the trip back to the SPCA's Lakeland facility. On Wednesday Nance returned after getting a phone call from someone who heard a cat's cry from within the now vacant house. He set up more traps and refilled cat food dishes that were taken over by flies. He found a dead kitten and remains of another cat. Nance travels two and a half hours, five hours round trip, to assure cats that were in the house are rescued. He won't stop until the job is done.

Everywhere fleas
Nance depends on neighbors to check on traps he set near windows and contact him if and when a cat is caught. But getting near the windows without getting covered with fleas is not an easy task. We dusted the perimeter and immediate lawn area with a flea and insect product to help keep the fleas at bay.

Work through emotions
By neighbors, I am referring to myself, Judy and Sheryl. Our properties abut this lot and we are the most directly effected. It has been hard. We all share the same emotions -- sadness, helplessness, despair, anger and now accomplishment.

The anger is against the people who let their home become a jail for as many as 75 cats. Anger when they walked away and looked for others to fix their problems. But it is what it is and we have to move on -- pick up trash, as this home is still a part of our neighborhood. We don't have to forgive, but we can move on.

Thankful for their action
We are especially grateful for the support and action we receive from our county commissioner, Diane Rowden. She secured the help of SPCA Florida. She oversaw an agreement made between the county sheriff and the property owner that made it possible for the SPCA to enter the house and remove the cats and kittens. The SPCA did what needed to be done before putting them up for adoption.  Rowden is continuing to work with the owner regarding cat hoarding issues and is finding sources for removing the home that is now unfit and should be condemned.

Hopefully, the connection between the county commission and the SPCA will lead to solutions -- better ways to handle potential hoarding situations before they become out of control and better ways to protect pets.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Thank you SPCA Florida

This little kitty is looking forward to a new home.
It looks like all of the cats were captured over the last two days and moved to the SPCA facility in Lakeland, FL for medical treatment and adoption. A total of 73 cats were taken from this small two-bedroom mobile home. It was just a week ago, that Hernando County Commissioner Diane Rowden came to the rescue and put together this amazing plan to save these cats.

"We are down to the extremely skittish ones," said Sandra Bartareau of Cats Everywhere,Inc. on Monday. It took Bartareau and an SPCA trapper Bruce Nance an hour to catch a very agile black feline that took to hiding in cabinets, jumping from drawer to drawer. "If only they knew this means getting a better life."

By now, everything in the house is covered with feces and saturated with urine -- floors, furniture, counters, strewn belongings. The stench of ammonia permeates the air. Fleas, flies and cat hair are everywhere. It isn't pretty looking through a dingy window and is a horrific scene when viewed from inside, according to the trappers.

Smile -- Jessica Lawson and Bruce Nance  with the last cats.

Loading cats for long trip and new adventure.

The SPCA Florida in Lakeland is a magnificent facility, according to Community Relations Manager Jessica Lawson. She says it costs about $300 to examine, test, treat and neuter each cat. All of this is done in their full-service hospital. Some of the cats will be placed in foster homes. This is done to give some of the cats time to adjust to their new lives and it is also a bit of marketing strategy -- to keep the number available within reason and provide a variety for a adoption. Lawson added, tours of the facility are available, as the SPCA is proud to show the public how contributions are applied for the health and welfare of dogs and cats in their care.

They set three traps on available floor space Monday night -- each containing a bowl of cat food. By Tuesday morning all three traps were sprung and three more cats were about to set out on a new journey. A fourth cat was trapped overnight in the backyard. Bruce Nance spent an hour banging on walls, looking in closets and under furniture for stragglers. He was pretty sure there weren't anymore in the house. But just in case, he left dishes of food on a shelf near the window and a litter box within sight. Neighbors will check from that vantage point for any sign of cats.

There will be much for our neighborhood to celebrate -- but there is still a lot to do. Once we know the cats are safely taken, the home must be destroyed. Then there is dealing with an ineffectual homeowners association.

HOA Board Members converge?
For now, we pause for just a minute to admire what we have accomplished so far and thank those who made it possible.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Catalyst for change

To turn Abraham Lincoln's quote, " God must love cats, he made so many of them."

Cats waiting to be rescued.
I am so grateful for all of the people who made a difference in this recent horror story. We've reached the first plateau and there is much more to accomplish. Check any or all of these articles for background on this story that involves cats, cat hoarding in a residential neighborhood and an ineffective homeowners association.

Judith Mottram is interviewed.
Words cannot express what an emotional, hard journey this has been. 

Friday -- Valentine's Day, as the (SPCA) angels, who risk their own health daily, removed cats and kittens from a filthy hell, the newspapers and TV stations documented the process, promising this story doesn't go unnoticed. County officials showed up in support. Neighbors watched with tears.  I was happy, sad, angry, relieved and so grateful. 

That night, I was exhausted. The Olympic Games were far away in distance and in my thoughts. As I watched, I was retracing the path that led me to this point. Cats, who never had the right to a good life are now getting that chance, because of the connections I finally made with people who care.

It is daybreak on Saturday morning. I slept well last night and know you must have, too. Now, I can't stop the tears. I mourn for the cats and kittens that didn't get a chance for a good life. It is an emotional let down. I feel in part, to blame for not fighting harder for them a long time ago. 

When I did fight harder the walls to a solution kept getting thicker and taller. Yes we were fighting for the health of our neighborhood as well. To some that was the major component to our battle.  While my hopes were to see these animals freed and placed in good homes, I faced the reality that they are no different than millions of cats who must be euthanized because there aren't enough good homes to go around. 

My supportive husband, Kevin, kept saying, "Go higher, go higher, Go all of the way to the Supreme Court. You are right. This is wrong."

Hernando County Commissioner Diane Rowden talks with
SPCA veterinarian Kim Domokos.  
Luckily, my next step up was Hernando County Commissioner Diane Rowden. who immediately took charge, devised a plan and lined up the the groups and people who turned her plan into action. She immediately saw the inhumanity and raised her voice loud enough to get the media's attention focused on the plight of these cats and the neighborhood. Rowden defines what public service should be all about.

Additional special thanks to neighbors Judith Mottram and Sheryl Sullivan who kept a vigilant stream of awareness going, by issuing complaints, making calls to animal services and spreading the news.

Okay, I am over the tears, recharged and ready to go on. This story isn't over. It is like a tree with many branches sprouting as we move forward.

What we've all done is connect as a team. What we've all done is bring to light this horrifying scenario and saved dozens of cats. Thank you.

Peace be with you, your families and your loved ones -- especially your pets.