Saturday, January 20, 2018

Progress on the upstairs: Day One

There was more junk in the upstairs drawers and closets than I expected, but I did manage to get through it and start pulling up the carpet tile. Again, I'll be saving the best of these (it has only been walked on by Pepper and Timea and perhaps five guests since I put it down) to re-use inside cat furniture cups. For some reason they always line those with white carpet (???) that looks shabby within about a month.

Pepper and Timea are assisting me with this project and are making the process quite a bit more enjoyable than it would be alone. Unfortunately they will have to be shut out of the room once the painting begins. As you can see from the sunshine, even with just the two dormer windows, this room is much brighter than the barn space, with it's many windows.

Cleaning has been quite the blast from the past. Long-time blog readers may recall when I was a very small local personality in my own right, rather than a cog in the larger animal welfare wheel. Wow, has it been a long time!

The NYS Wildife Rehabilitation Council conference was my very first presentation (it was not at all stellar---I was terrified, had way too many notes, and had no podium light. It was definitely a learning experience!). That was back in 1993. The Vertebrate Pest Conference was the most influential conference I was ever asked to speak at in my wildlife control career. Because I managed the cats at Ithaca College at that time, and was employed there as well (in a non-cat position), Ithaca College insisted on me including their name, which provided me with more clout than I deserved. I had to repeatedly explain I was NOT a biologist---just an animal research facility technician and nuisance wildlife control operator. I did get kudos for having actual data on cat colony management--respect I probably wouldn't have gotten had I just been a cat rescuer. The contract I had at Ithaca College took me a long way in the animal welfare field. Being one of the only women in nuisance wildlife control at that time also helped. I got speaking engagements solely based on my gender, I'm sure. Conference organizers allowed me to talk about controversial subjects because they stereotypically assumed (probably rightly) that a woman would not be challenged as strongly as a man simply because it was such an oddity to hear a woman discussing the issues I was asked to discuss.

Sadly, once wildlife control began moving out of the hands of old-time fur trappers to the more modern "pest control" companies that were primarily profit-motivated (versus nature-motivated or challenge-motivated as the fur-trappers were) my star plummeted rapidly in wildlife control. I finally left the listservs I really loved, mostly due to just one or two trolls who not only felt all cats should just be shot or drowned (or that shelters should just kill all stray cats for free), they also felt that their high wildlife control fees should be jacked up even higher if they pulled into the driveway of a really nice house. The old guard, and the newcomers who listened to them, still fight the good fight to keep the profession ethical, but it wasn't my fight, so I bowed out and moved back into domestic animal welfare again.

I met some amazing people (John Hadidian and Dave Pauli from HSUS, Laura Simon from the Fund for Animals). I miss arguing with Laura -- she was the one serious animal right's advocate I could argue my animal welfare stance with. She would get right into it without taking any offense whatsoever. The fur-trappers as well--you could sit right down with a beer and explain why people expect humane options for handling wildlife problems and you could hash it out in a friendly and respectful manner. Some of the fur-trappers were also the local dog control officers. They understood why the legalities and ethics of why a DCO or shelter could not just kill cats when they were brought in the door--unlike the profit-motivated newcomers.

Sadly, many people who just want to make more and more dollars (not just a decent living, but a bigger and bigger living: as much as they can get away with) don't care much about their customers, their neighbors, or the animals. Happily, they are not the majority. But as I said, it wasn't my fight. There were others better suited in the industry for that.

That was 15 years ago--so much has changed both in nuisance wildlife control and in animal sheltering! I'd like to think the good people outweigh the bad ones. We all go stumbling through life and make mistakes. But those genuinely bad people--they are a different breed.

Here I am with the cats. Onward we go!

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