By Barbara Perry
As if Covid-19 wasn’t enough to endure for the year, wildfires struck northern Lincoln County in September. As usual, our county residents, businesses, and government agencies jumped in to help (and they continue to do so) to support those who have lost so much.
The many first responders, law enforcement, and fire personnel, Animal Service Deputies, and the Lincoln County Animal Shelter staff all worked as a team to meet the immediate needs, and handle the impact of the devastation.
Central Coast Humane Society assisted, but for the most part, we were waiting in the wings to step in when the dust settled, so to speak. We have worked in the Echo Mountain / Panther Creek area for many years spaying and neutering the abundance of stray cats in the area.
While not everyone is fond of strays, they are sentient beings with emotions. Their beating hearts feel pain and love. Strays did not ask to be born into a feral colony, nor to have been lost or abandoned years ago. Many kind souls have cared for them over the years. During and after the fire, we prayed that they would survive. When we were able to get into the area, we found that many had.
The first order of business was to ensure that the cats had fresh food and water daily. Our “brunch crew,” aka feeding team, has been serving a dose of nutrition and love every day since we were allowed in the area. Rain or shine, wind, thunder or hail, they are still feeding at approximately ten stations, in which food is placed out of the rain and wind, seven days a week. To date, CCHS has purchased 342 bags of cat kibble for our volunteers to distribute to those intrepid kitties who survived all.
With the onset of cold weather, more volunteers made insulated shelters that are providing warmth and dryness. The heavy-duty black totes are placed throughout the area near the feeding stations. Often, two or three cats are seen coming out of the shelters when they hear the vehicles of the feeding team drive up. How do they distinctly know one car sound from another? Or is it that their tummies tell them it is dinnertime?
Simultaneously, while meeting the needs of food, water, and shelter, CCHS volunteers began trapping the strays to get them to local veterinary clinics for the treatment of wounds, burns, respiratory issues, eye problems, abscesses, skin infections, and other medical issues, especially dental needs.
Each non-friendly cat/feral was spayed or neutered and given a rabies vaccination, then placed in a “green” area outside the immediate burn zone to get them away from breathing the ash and asbestos. We did our best to keep colonies together.
Each friendly or semi-friendly cat was placed in temporary housing while waiting for the shelter to have room to take them in. A photo was posted on various Facebook pages, including the shelter’s lost and found page, in hopes that owners would recognize their furbabies.
When residents were present, we talked with them to identify pets and obtain contact information for their owners.
While our response has been focused on the fire zone, we have also continued our day-to-day work with animals in other areas of Lincoln County. We helped a young kitty with a broken leg (he wasn’t very fond of the splint). And our littlest recipient came to us when he was 2.1 ounces and 2 days old. As of this writing he weighs a whopping 6.2 ounces.
CCHS is indebted to all our volunteers, the communities of Lincoln County, and all who gave (and still are) of their time, talent, and expertise. You have opened your hearts, your property, your homes, and your pocketbooks. Thank you!
I recently summarized some accomplishments of our volunteers in the fire zone, so they would know their efforts are definitely worthwhile. If you know a CCHS volunteer, tell them thanks! Below are their additional accomplishments:
- Volunteers have built and/or placed food shelters, kitty yurts (cold weather shelters), freshened their bedding of straw, trapped, transported, and returned cats or placed them in safe areas.
- They have been our liaison with the neighbors who remain or the owners who lost all.
- Volunteers’ children have helped socialize kittens and given them valuable stimulation to welcome them to this world.
- Children are learning compassion, patience, tenderness, and love. What a terrific gift to raise a generation of those who will believe compassion to all animals should not only be required but should be second nature to everyone.
- Volunteers have helped 170 (and counting) stray/community cats and kittens receive a spay or neuter operation, a rabies vaccination, and flea treatment. Many have received microchips.
- Volunteers have worked with neighbors who are feeding a rabbit colony and keeping a watchful eye out for them.
- Volunteers have transported cats who were not welcome back to their area to barns in Waldport, Cloverdale, and even Gaston, OR!
- Volunteers have transported (so far) four very wild ferals to their own large enclosed feral condo to be mousers on their acreage. They all came from the same area colony.
- Volunteers helped coordinate a free clinic for pet cats in the fire area. Heartfelt thanks to Oceanlake Veterinary Clinic, Drs. Malter and Hoffman, their veterinary technicians, and staff. Twenty-three pet cats were spayed or neutered at the one-day clinic on November 7.
Many cats and kittens will lead a much healthier and pain-free life because of the efforts, donations, time, and love of the many people in Lincoln County and beyond who have given so generously.
The Board of Directors and I thank all of you from the bottom of our hearts. You have made a huge difference.