Carol’s Ferals’ mission is to end feline overpopulation in West Michigan through communication education and empowerment.
1. What was your first experience with animals that had an impact on you?
I have had a cat my entire life beginning when I was 4 years old. As a child, when I found a dead bird or mouse, I’d bury it in the flower bed. I have always had a “heart” for animals. The main crossing point for me was while volunteering for a month post-Katrina at a shelter in Baton Rouge, LA. I saw trucks with poster painted windows that read “ANIMAL RESCUE”. I wasn’t in “rescue” yet at that time but I had a great deal of admiration for those that were. I never planned to be as involved as I am but I’m glad I can devote my time, energy, and life to something I feel is worth-while and make a difference in this world.
2. When, how, and why did you first get involved with the animal welfare/rights movement?
Quite unintentionally. I was taking care of my father during the last month of his life. I was home and bored. Someone else starting up their own rescue asked me for help. I helped out, then I got sucked in. After seeing that person make a significant difference in the welfare of feral and stray cats, I decided to branch off on my own and do so too.
3. What are your favorite types of animal advocacy activities? Why? (i.e. lobbying, letter-writing, petitions, volunteering, protests, etc.)
I am very “hands-on” and require immediate gratification for the work I do. So long term advocacy, politics, and bureaucracy are not for me. I need to be doing something all the time and that activity has to have an immediate result for me to get maximum gratification.
4. What animal issues are you most passionate about?
Animal overpopulation, with an emphasis on cats and specifically feral and stray cats as well as TNR (trap-neuter-return).
5. What current animal-related issue or campaign has caught your attention, and why?
The laws governing treatment of ferals once they hit the sheltering system. The only actions taken are to euthanize the cat. There is much more we can do than that. Ferals need special understanding. I’m happy to be their voice. Also, issues surrounding the rights of people to feed feral cats and the right they have to a life despite the fact that some people consider them a nuisance.
6. How do you address animal issues within your career?
Animal welfare IS MY CAREER. It’s not a paying job, but it surely is my job.
7. What advice do you have for someone looking to become a more active animal advocate?
Get involved with a reputable animal rescue organization in your area. Find who is doing what you agree with mostly and see what talents you have that might better the landscape for animals you care most about. Good volunteers are prized in the non-profit animal rescue realm (as in any non-profit realm).
8. What book, quote, photo, video, story, etc. have you found most inspiring/has inspired you?
I have coined my own phrase: “Just because you can’t touch them, doesn’t mean you can’t help them.”
I’m also fond of anything coming from Alley Cat Allies and am in agreement with most practices set forth by Best Friends Animal Society. This is an article that hit home for me regarding feral cats from Best Friends Animal Society: http://www.bestfriends.org/nomorehomelesspets/resourcelibrary/playinggod.cfm
In addition, attending the No More Homeless Pets Conference in Las Vegas for the past two years has really helped me focus my attention to the things I need to do to help more cats from being killed in our shelters.
I also feel it’s important not to vilify our local shelter and humane society for carrying out what our society has sadly created. I want to work closely with these groups to remedy the senseless killing of homeless animals. But so long as a shelter is using humane euthanasia and does not have a contract/association with a Class B Dealer, I’m hoping that there is a resolution to this that we can find together.