Of policies, integrity and the alignment of the stars

I’ve wanted to write this since last week, but simply could not find the time to do it.

It was meant as a ranting (because I have not ranted for more than a year now), but thanks to a lovely email I received today, I will cut down on the ranting and focus on the positive instead!

The ranting is this: I think I have no affinity with applicants born in 1996. Let’s see…they would be 24 years old this year. It’s either they simply do not understand any language or they do not understand what they read in our policy statement. Or they do not read? And these 24-year olds will usually end up scolding me for not giving them the aid because THEY do not follow our policies. The entitled mentality is overwhelming – they ask for charity but do not follow policies. And when they don’t get it, they blame the policies for being unfair.

But it could also be a misalignment of the stars… Them and me – just not compatible?

The latest I received was from a new applicant (also born in 1996). She says she runs a shelter of 50 cats. I replied that we do not have any provisions to help shelters, so perhaps she could seek assistance elsewhere.

Policies are policies, right?

Her reply totally caught me offguard….again (but I should not be surprised – she’s born in 1996!). She accused me of being “tak ikhlas” and wonders what AnimalCare is all about and why we cannot help people like her.

Er…puan, ada baca polisi tak?  It is all stated VERY clearly in the policies.

Kalau polisi kami tidak membenarkan kami membantu shelter, kami tidak boleh membantu.  Puan boleh marah macam mana pun, polisi tidak akan berubah. Dah lebih daripada 10 tahun polisi ini dikuatkuasakan, puan.

So, it’s this thing with applicants who are born in 1996. I don’t know why.

Can I blame it on the stars? Or maybe it’s the Chinese zodiac sign?  I’m a Rabbit and hence, not compatible with the Rooster and Snake. However, 1996 was the year of the Rat. So, patutnya boleh kawan. Tapi….

Then, there are also those whom we found to be dishonest and have already been banned since Dec 2018. It’s been more than a year now, but they are still badmouthing me to all and sundry.

Well, that’s the price to pay for running a charity with policies. We cannot help everyone, least of all, those who cheat. And they will be unhappy.

Sticks and stones, you know….it’s their mouths. As one brave civil servant said recently, everyone has the right to say anything they want.

But….today, I received a lovely email from someone older (thank goodness!) who totally understands that policies are to be followed. After much bombardment from the younger people who scold me when we are not able to help them (is this due to our infamous education system, I really don’t know), I do not enjoy having to tell anyone that the maximum number has been reached and we are no longer able to extend our help anymore.

But this older person was most gracious about it. Here’s her lovely email:

Thank you, I do appreciate your  explanation.  I started off my rescue work on street cats with the same intention. Catching the strays, neutering, & releasing them back to where I first found & fed them.  The safe haven for my area stray cats collapsed with the spate of poisoning.  I rounded as many strays as I could & boarded  young cats & kittens with cat lover friends. These are adoptable & many have found good homes. We released the older cats in nearby streets where I continue to feed them.

It would have been ideal if the world is a safer place.  Cats that are neutered could then safely be returned to their comfort spot to continue  journey of short life. Unfortunately animal abuse & cruelty prevail. That is why sometimes when I rescue street cats, especially young ones, that are friendly, I always try to find them homes. I have never asked adopters for any reimbursement of the amount spent on the cats. In fact, almost all adopters, at least the ones I have encountered so far,  think the rescuers are responsible for any pre-adoption expenses.

I hope my appeals would not be regarded as a way of passing off the neutering expenses.  I truly wish I could afford not having to ask for help. I am forever grateful for the kind sponsorship I have received from My AnimalCare Organization,  it really have helped me through many rough patches. I apologise for having exceeded the appeals per rescuer quota, was not aware of this policy.  I will withdraw this appeal for this cat as you have been more than generous with your sponsorship.

Wishing you a very Happy Chinese New Year.
Thank you so much.

We paid for this cat because we promised we would help. But it’s incredibly kind of her to offer to withdraw her application (but she has been paid, nonetheless). Such graciousness is VERY RARE these days. Very, very, very, incredibly rare. More often than not, and this is very sad, friendships will be forged between the applicants and me, but once we tell them it’s the end of the line and the maximum number has been reached or exceeded now, they turn hostile. And vicious. The true colours then emerges. The emotional blackmailing then starts (“Because you won’t help me anymore, I shall not help animals anymore now. It’s all your fault.”). I do wonder when people use this kind of reasoning: What if I died tomorrow and AnimalCare ceases operations. Would it then also be my fault? Would I then be cursed for dying?

Kalau saya “tak ikhlas”, kenapalah saya nak buat ini tiap-tiap hari…Dah sepuluh tahun ni… And deal with horribly ungrateful people and those who think the whole world owes them something? Would I not just chill, relax and enjoy my cats and my life?

But that is the price to pay when you run a charity.

Once in a while, you get nice human beings too and that’s a real bonus!

A dear friend once told me, “You started this charity, you and your committee have every right to declare who you can help and who you cannot. Even if you say you will only help black cats, no one has any right to dictate otherwise. Like-minded donors will support what you stand for. No one is forcing anyone to apply for aid, and definitely no one is forcing anyone to donate to a cause which they do not support.”

There…it’s all there.

Our funds are for One-Street CNRM animals. They are not for shelter animals or animals who already have adopters-in-waiting. CNRM is the way to stabilise colonies for the long term. If street animals are removed from the colonies, it creates a vacuum and more unneutered animals will enter the colony. Then, it will be a never-ending story. The colony will never be sustainable this way.

If the area is unsafe and not suitable for CNRM, then it is simply not suitable. Please do not return animals to areas that are hotspots for the catchers or are inhabited by animal-hating human beings.

For rescuers who take animals off the streets and adopt them into their own homes, please be aware of the laws that govern how many animals (especially dogs) you are allowed to keep in your house. Even if there is no restriction in cat numbers, please ensure that your cats have ample space in your house and you are able to look after all of them properly for the rest of their lives. There is a thin line between caring and hoarding. Once adopted, they are your pets for life. You bear the responsibility of taking care of them. Relying on charity to take care of your own pets is somewhat not very right, don’t you agree? If you cannot take care of so many, then why, in the first place, do you bring in so many??

As for rescuers who take animals off the streets to be rehomed, yes, you are doing a great job in finding loving homes for these animals so that they do not have to live on the streets anymore. Kudos to you for doing that. As for the neutering fee, it would be advisable for you to impose an adoption fee that covers the neutering (and/or vaccination fee) on the new adopter. It’s not so much about the money, rather, it is also a good gauge for you. If the new adopter is unwilling to reimburse you for the neutering fee (which ranges from RM100-RM200), then you should question how the adopter is going to look after your rescued animal for the rest of his/her life. What will happen when the pet requires medical treatment or surgery? Or lifelong palliative care when aging. All this is going to cost more than RM100-RM200. Please do think about this. We know that many people are against an adoption fee and they have their reasons, of course. But do consider what kind of an adopter the person would be if he or she is not even willing to foot out RM100-RM200 for his new pet. If they claim to be poor and cannot afford it, then do you think they should even keep a pet?

I have friends who impose an adoption fee for their rescued animals, then they donate that fee to charities. So, it is not really about the money, but more, to differentiate between a capable adopter (to look after the pet for life) and one who might not be so. Or worse, one who might very well dump the pet when the pet requires anything that costs money. Surely you do not want to pass your painstakingly rescued animal to such a human, do you?

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