Story By Kelli Van Nuys Photos Courtesy of We Save Kitties at Risk
How many plans have you created? Wedding plans, birthday parties, baby showers? Planning out an entire education or even just a night out? Most of our lives revolve around plans, but very few make plans for the unexpected. When these unfortunate events happen – car accidents, hospitalizations, and even death – our pets are often at the bottom of a long to-do list.
Nichole Adams, a geriatric Behavioral Health Technician at St. Mary’s hospital, sees the consequences of a lack of planning every day. Many cats and dogs become inconveniences thrust upon family members when someone is hospitalized, and she has seen countless patients forced to give up their beloved furry family members when they can no longer provide them with the proper care. That’s why she has chosen a unique mission for the We Save Kitties at Risk (WSKR) rescue.
Founded in 2013, WSKR started as a rescue to assist with adoptions and Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) assistance. Nichole Adams took over the organization in November 2018, and has been making strides in re-vamping the goals to serve a different purpose: the middle man.
According to the ASPCA, of the 3.2 million cats who enter shelters each year, 860,000 are euthanized. This statistic can make it difficult for family members to surrender their loved one’s cat to a shelter if they can no longer care for them, and as Nichole points out, cats can deteriorate quickly in shelters – they are not meant to be caged. The alternative, however, is not much safer. Craigslist is a secondary resource to directly re-home a dog or cat, navigating around the risky environment of the shelter. In these situations, though, it can be difficult to ensure that the dog or cat goes to a good home, and without an appropriate re-homing fee, dog fighters or animal abusers can easily pick up small dogs and cats to use as bait.
It’s Nichole’s goal to rebuild WSKR as an intermediary between these options. Her first goal for WSKR is to build a network of short-term fosters, which would allow people in temporarily difficult family or medical situations to find a safe provider to care for their pets. These fosters would house the cats and provide them with food, water, and love until their person or family could bring them back home. She would eventually like enough fosters to establish a relationship with the Tucson-area hospitals, allowing all people, such as patients geriatrics, people without a support system, and those in the LGBTQ+ community, to request short-term fosters for their pets due to hospitalization. This would provide community members in dire situations with a sense of security knowing that their kitty is safe, allowing them to make a full recovery without stress.
The next step in the WSKR plan is to establish a network of long-term fosters, when hospice care or death occurs and a cat must be re-homed. In order to keep them away from the dangers on Craigslist and out of the stressful shelter, WSKR would provide temporary homes with networking to find new homes. Nichole says that unlike other rescues, her goal would not be to pull cats from the shelter and find them homes that way – she wants to save them before they get to the shelter. “I don’t want our rescue to just push numbers – I want to find good homes where they are taken care of,” Nichole noted.
The most important part of the plan to Nichole is education. She wants to encourage people to plan for the worst-case-scenario situations, and provide lists of resources for pets so they are not suddenly in a tragic situation, as well as a safe place to go if the unexpected does occur. Do you currently have a plan if something happens and you are unable to care for your cat and dog? Is there somebody you can rely on to provide them what they need, and if not, do you have second options available? These are the questions Nichole wants the public to consider, and she hopes that moving forward WSKR will be able to provide education, and at the very least, she wants all WSKR adoption families to have an established long-term plan before they take their new family member home.
Right now, 3 kitties are a part of the WSKR rescue, a foundation that will help build the rest of the organization up to help the community. If you are interested in becoming a short-term foster, long-term foster, or even donating, WSKR can be contacted using the information below. All three kitties featured in this article are looking for their forever home.
The unique mission of WSKR will help with an aspect of pet rescue that has yet to be explored in the Tucson community, and could help keep pets and their owners together even after a tragedy. Though this is only the beginning of the organization, WSKR has established the foundation necessary to make a difference in many lives, and just need the community’s support to move forward.