Feral Paws Rescue: What Rescue Really Is About

Sep 16, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Feral Paws Rescue, Pets

by Paula Hunsacker

Many, I am sure, don’t understand my drive to walk into a high-kill shelter daily and work endless hours to save just one life of a cat that will die in three to five days! I never ask for a pat on the back for what I am doing. Just that you respect me for fighting for the life of cats that will not make it out of a high kill shelter! Unless you have personally worked with a rescue, you can never truly understand the horror we see every day.

All of the things that the human race does to animals! Animals tossed out like trash. The true horror of animal abuse! Not seen on TV or in photos, but in real life. Spending hours tagging cats for rescue to try and save their lives. Then waiting for the shelter to say if the cat can go to rescue or will die at the shelter! Our rescue pulls from 12 shelters in California. Some weeks we spend hours on the road traveling to only one shelter in California to save a life!

Shelter kitties rescued just in time

How we hold them, cry with them, fight for them! Then try and help repair the damage they have been through. When they are sick endless hours are spent nursing them back to health and running back and forth to a vet. Some may lose an eye, or leg, or even be blind. Some may be so depressed after giving love to a family for many years and now being given up at a high kill shelter because they are old. They don’t understand why they no longer have the family they loved. Hearing the slamming doors of kennels closing and the smell of death all around them. No longer having their soft bed to sleep in. Now sleeping on a steel kennel floor!

Walking into a high kill shelter and seeing all the little paws reaching out to you! Touch their little paws and talk to them. Knowing that you can’t save them all and having to only rescue a few! Having to face the fact that when you return the following day, many will not be there any longer; they have been put down. Walking past a kennel and seeing it empty remembering the little paws that were reaching out to you the day before or the face that cried when you walked by the kennel. It’s heartbreaking!

Shelter cat rescued just in time

Rescue is the voice for the animals that can’t speak for themselves. We fight and do all we can to help them. For some, we are their only hope of getting out of a high kill shelter! Many are never seen by the public for adoption because they have been labeled “rescue only pulls.” Among those are the scared, feral, moms with kittens, kittens under two pounds, sick, etc. Once you get them back to good health, they are ready to move on to forever homes. For many, it takes months in rescue to get to that point.

Then you spend endless hours at adoption events, working with other rescues for placement. Then working on transports to get them to another rescue, maybe out of state. Then you have to work out whether they will fly or be transported by vehicle if they are going to another rescue. Or if adoption is out of state, making sure the adopter is a good placement for the cat. We spend endless hours helping feral cats find placement where they can live out their lives. Helping senior cats be placed with senior humans for love is amazing.

Shelter cat rescue just in time

A rescue not only has to care for all the cats in their care but deal with inspections from animal control. Keep a file for every cat, with vetting records, adopters, etc. Not everyone can deal with running a rescue. It’s not pretty at times. You have to give your heart and soul to what you are doing. The hardest part is knowing you can’t save them all, but every day you try because all their lives matter very much to us, and they all deserve a loving home. It can be hard to have the strength to go back to a high kill shelter!

In all the years we have been in rescue, I have never gotten as shocking of a phone call from a shelter as I did today! One that left me in tears and totally speechless! It left me feeling hopeless for the cats I work so hard to help. Knowing that you’re the only cat rescue helping the cats at this shelter make it out alive.

Shelter cat rescued just in time

This shelter may stop all cat rescue pulls for two weeks very soon! I asked if the cats being tagged for rescue will also be put down. The reply was yes! Their allotted time of three to five days will expire before rescue can pull again from this shelter. When this goes into effect there will be no hope for many of leaving alive. My heart is broken in a million pieces! I will do all I can to help who I can before this goes into effect!

During those two weeks, rescues won’t be able to pull any cats. The shelter will be deep cleaning the cattery to try and keep the cats healthier in the future. In the meantime, many will die. Knowing we can’t help any of the cats get out alive will be the hardest part to deal with. All their lives will be gone with no help coming for them.

My heart is very heavy, and I feel helpless. My heart breaks for all the cats that enter the shelter during the two weeks that our rescue can’t help any of them! I will fight for who I can until that time! It’s going to happen. I just don’t know when I will get that call from the shelter. May God be with the ones that will never leave the shelter alive. I am so sorry that you are lost in the shelter system with no way out alive.

To all the kitties that won’t make it out alive. I am very blessed to have had a chance to meet and talk to you and touch your loving paws reaching out to me for help. I am so heartbroken for those I tagged for rescue pulls at the shelter, When I put your kennel cards back on your kennels, I promised you I would be back to take you out of the shelter alive. I can’t keep that promise I made to you! My heart is heavy knowing there is no way out for you other than death. Run Free at the Rainbow Bridge all kitties that will not make it out of the shelter!

EMAIL: fprg.org@gmail[dot]com
Phone: 559-412-7226

Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section & watch for more stories from Feral Paws every month, and we would love to have you join our KRL Pets Facebook group. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to Feral Paws.

1 Comment

  1. I’m so devastated after reading your article. That’s just totally wrong what they’re doing. All I can say is that you’ve done the best that you can.


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