December 1999 / January 2000
Dear Friends, Benefactors and Potential Benefactors:
An animal-shelter staff member I know told me she was asked why every
animal cannot be saved. "I wish the community would put us
out of business," is often her response. There simply are
not enough foster homes or cage spaces for the 12,000 animals the city
shelter receives annually.
One example, however, of a city that has been able to change the fate
of animals in the city shelter is San Francisco. Adoptable animals
now find homes through the privately funded SPCA. Groups that
cover vet expenses
and buy food for animals and groups that foster animals and advertise
for homes spare the lives of animals who might otherwise have become
National well-funded humane groups advocate for animals and educate.
I am quoted in the current issue of ASPCA's Animal Watch on the subject
of winterizing outside structures for feral cats, however the work of
umbrella organizations may not directly affect an animal's life.
Animals often need urgent direct intervention so as not to be brought
to animal impoundment agencies. Some funds need to stay in the
community if they are going to make a direct difference in a specific
ASAP is one such group that meets the challenge. It is a "mom
and pop" all-volunteer rescue group that helps animals through
foster homes and adoptions. It also reaches out to people while
they connect with social service agencies better positioned to meet
the needs of people in distress.
ASAP offers individual animal workers/rescuers a charitable deduction
for expenses on personal taxes.
Out-of-pocket expenditures of those affiliated with ASAP are deductible
to the extent allowed by law. To get the job done, we collaborate
with other groups as we seek to empower individual rescuers. We
also lend a hand to those who must part with companion animals, and
do what we can to help the cats at Lorton Prison (i.e, we help supply
cat food and find homes for cats who truly are "doing the time
without the crime"). ASAP builds community and offers tools
(such as the Adoption Interview Questionnaire on our website) to assist
those who work with society's throwaway animals -- activities that can
overwhelm and isolate individual autonomous rescuers. We want to help
As individuals, we have been around for years. On our Board is
a local psychiatrist as well as an individual who, in addition to working
with us, finances a private foundation out of her earnings to help animals.
Among our volunteer-supporters is a cat rescuer who lobbies for the
American Society for the Protection of Animals (and previously served
on the staff of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
Another volunteer/supporter is active with Friendship Community Council
for the Homeless. Louise Holton, founder of Alley Cat Allies,
and I knew each other before the term "feral" became popular,
and she also introduced me to the Riverside Rescue Duffeys -- another
active hands-on group.
A form prepared for the District of Columbia for renewal of our charitable
solicitation license shows the bulk of ASAP funds buys food for animals
and pays vet costs. We spent (over a 10-month period from
the time of licensing by the District in November 1998 until August
31, 1999 when the
District's reporting period ended) $7,073 getting the organization up
and running (including website site design/ incorporation and licensing
fees); $3,692 helping indigent people; $14,136 on pet food and $10,981
on vet bills. Total expenditures over this ten-month period amounted
to $35,883. The organization received donations amounting to about $10,000,
and the rest came out of the pockets of volunteers and board members.
Joanna Harkin personally expended about $12,000 (averaging $1,200
per month). Now that some one-time expenses have been covered,
we anticipate more funds will go directly into programs instead of administration/overhead.
If you can foster an animal or work with a colony of outside cats or
offer your services another way, please call us. If you are unable
to be more
active, please allocate some of your animal welfare donations to LOCAL
dynamic groups such as the Alliance for Stray Animals and People.
Dear Benefactors and Rescuers:
Rescue work benefits those who give as well as those who receive. There
is much to be learned from the survival instincts of anyone who lives
on the street "24/7." A blind cat named Jodie found
at eight weeks is exuberant now at five months (as I write this) in
his love of life: his attentive movements betray his eager interest
in every sound, scent and small wafting of air. Nothing escapes
his notice as he experiences each moment with notable alertness.
If only I could relish life moment-to-moment as much as Jodie does.
But I learn from him and more like him -- and am never clear in this
work who profits more.
More would be involved in helping others who live on the street if they
could visualize the plight of those who are out there. Some cats
cannot remain where they are indefinitely (a prison is closing, a convention
center is being constructed, an 85-year old lady living where her neighbors
dislike cats is moving), but some outdoor cats can continue to be supported
where they are a while longer.
Unadoptable cats are generally managed in one of three ways: some
are maintained in no-kill shelters; some are humanely euthanized; and
some are sustained in outside feral cat colonies. Alley Cat Allies (ACA)
advocates for long-term outside care, while the official policy of the
Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the American Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals (PETA) is that no cat should be supported in an
outdoor living situation, e.g., a cat colony. When care is lavished
on an outdoor colony by a group of doting caretakers, my observation
is that some outdoor cats are living better than some indoor cats.
Certainly though there are different levels of care, and some "colonizations"
are what others might derisively allude to as "spay and abandon"
projects. Because of concerns about levels of care (that the cats might
not be adequately protected and cared for over an extended time) and
because of space limitations in no-kill shelters, HSUS, the ASPCA and
PETA recommend the euthanasia of unadoptable cats.
ASAP focuses on situations where colonization is not suitable for indefinite
periods of time, but may be a viable alternative to immediate removal
and euthanasia. Among our methodology is a Cat Community Bulletin Board
(CCBB) where rescuers may exchange information and alert volunteers
and benefactors to cats in need. Specific locations will not be posted
and any that appear to be specific will have been altered by the webmistress.
The CCBB is designed to help humane workers to communicate with each
other and to exchange information. It will permit benefactors
to visualize some cats in need. An individual posting a bulletin
message may be contacted directly. Gifts may sent to ASAP for a particular
situation or, with advance approval, may be advanced directly to a local
vet on ASAP's behalf (contact us in advance to insure that your gift
is deductible for tax purposes). As we develop funding, ASAP would
like to be able to advance funds to rescuers (either as grants or loans)
so that no cat has a litter of kittens for lack of funds.
ASAP believes that some outdoor cats can continue to be maintained (spayed/
neutered/fed/sheltered) temporarily while permanent solutions are sought.
It is heart-rending to take stray cats to a shelter for euthanasia --
many people are constitutionally unable to bring themselves to do it
even when they realize a gentle death might be preferable to the demise
so many cats face on the streets. (Billy Graham once said, "I'm
not afraid of dying. It's how I die that concerns me").
Diligent caretakers and considerable outlays of time and financial resources
are needed to assist cats in crisis -- to oversee their passage into
caring situations where they will be looked after for the rest of their
lives. Donations to ASAP directly help animals and indigent people.
We are historically cat rescuers who have evolved into helping people
to a limited degree, and are refining ways to make our work for homeless
and indigent people as visible as our work with stray cats. ASAP
volunteers interact with individuals on a one-to-one basis and offer
assistance for basic necessities. Our financial breakdown for
budgetary purposes is 60 percent help for animals and 30 percent help
for indigent people with the remaining ten percent allocated to administrative
costs. We are all volunteers and, among ourselves, easily expend
more than our means might suggest or dictate. Your help is very
much sought and deeply appreciated.
Another methodology though which ASAP empowers rescuers is that preauthorized
expenditures for rescue work within ASAP's purview may be deducted on
personal income taxes. Contact us if you are a rescuer expending your
own funds at present to assist stray animals (so many of whom on our
streets are feline). We also offer resources here on our site to assist
in cat placement (see adoption questionnaire, adoption form and cat
Vote with ten and pass it on! Please consider making a $10 donation
when you visit our site and forwarding our URL (www.4asap.org)
to ten others.