A Soft Side Christmas Story
His eyes were constantly sore and irritated, because his fur scratched his corneas each time he blinked. His eyelids curved unnaturally inward and he needed surgery to correct the condition. There is little hope for injured street cats and those with medical conditions. Yet, “Big Daddy” was one of the lucky ones, for a kind woman had neutered him and a selfless caretaker fed him when her boss was not looking.
His TNR advocate and guardian angel, Robin Heck, contacted us before Thanksgiving. Big Daddy needed entropion surgery to alleviate his painful eye condition. Could Show Your Soft Side help? “Yes, we will cover the cost of his surgery,” we responded.
Some people assume we are simply a showbiz poster campaign that features a stream of celebrities, often with million-dollar smiles, cuddling their pets. And while our Softie ambassadors are at the core of our mission of stopping animal cruelty, we have devoted much of our time and resources over the past year developing and supporting programs, such as our humane education program, a prison cat program, and the Love Leads Project to save dogs.
Our small, all-volunteer organization constantly strives to help the most vulnerable and abused, including Baltimore’s street cats. We have witnessed first-hand — and often written about — the unrelenting stress that TNR advocates face to feed and shelter these abandoned animals 365 days a year. They are the heroes of this story. While ample low cost spay/neuter options exist, these caretakers have few places to turn when a colony cat is sick or injured. Therefore, we also set aside $10,000 this year for a new Medical Fund for Baltimore Street Kitties.
Big Daddy is one of the 26 cats we have helped so far. Dr. Rick Lewis of Academy Animal Hospital graciously performed his entropion surgery at a rescue discount, and immediately noticed his canines were severely inflamed as well. He needed several extractions, and we immediately agreed to cover that procedure, too. We simply could not imagine returning Big Daddy to the street with a painful mouth that made it difficult to eat.
The demand for our financial assistance has been non-stop. Even before Big Daddy returned to the vet for his dental procedure, Robin Heck notified us of another cat who had a broken or injured paw. Although our medical account was nearly empty, we gave the green light to treat him. If necessary, we’ll rob Peter to pay Paul.
The very next day, animal advocate Kris Northrup sent us a request on behalf of an 82-year old caretaker, who has fed and cared for approximately 20 cats over the years on her limited income. “Kinder” had a recurring hematoma on his ear that would not heal and required a permanent repair. The beat goes on, and on, and on.
It is human nature to become numb to overwhelming suffering, whether from a natural disaster, a mass shooting, or animals in need. But it’s often the suffering of the individual – the Big Daddy’s, the Kinder’s, and the cats with the injured paws — that ultimately compels us to act. It’s not that we’re insensitive to suffering, but we recognize our limitations, as there is only so much one person can do. Yes, our medical fund is a mere drop in the bucket, but results improve exponentially through collaboration. Many of the local vets have graciously given us rescue discounts and caretakers have shared our posts in the hopes of replenishing the fund. Real progress occurs when we cross lines and work together.
Sadly, we must turn down some requests, as the demand for assistance far exceeds our budget. As we face the winter, we hope you will join us in easing the burdens of Baltimore’s street cats, as we continue to fundraise and host events to replenish our medical fund.
While we will never have the option of adopting or even touching these cats, their lives matter as much as those who share our homes. If anything, they are more deserving of help, for they endure unimaginable daily struggles just to survive and through no fault of their own.
Yes, the needs of Baltimore’s street cats are daunting, but we will sleep better on this Christmas Eve knowing that Big Daddy is not in pain for the first time in his adult life.
If you would like to help us alleviate the suffering of Baltimore’s street cats, please consider a donation and designate Medical Fund for Baltimore Street Kitties. You can donate on our website and no amount is too small. We guarantee your dollars will go to good use.