Friday, March 14, 2014

3/14/2014

Hi,  power wash day, I am really running behind :)
Tomorrow is Open house :)


Boxes
Thank you so much for all your generous gifts for the blind cats from our wish lists!

Thank you Starr Crawford for the toys, batteries & food!
Thank you to unnamed for the toys!
Thank you Stephanie Goutos for the toys, blanket and food!
Thank you Kristina Crofut  for the cat playhouse and toys!
Thank you Mary Blake for the toys!
Thank you Cat for the microwave, climber and food!
Thank you Jerry Tinkey for the undercover mouse!
Thank you unnamed for the carrier!
Thank you Linda Carden for the gain, floor cleaner and food!
Thank you unnamed for the cleaner!
Thank you Alyssa Vannoy for the sponges and toy!

We WILL be doing boxes tonight!!





Thank you so much Cora Welch for working so hard to raise money for the cats by selling adorable bracelets you made!!
That was so very kind of you!!



Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary – The Early Years
Written by Jill Anne Sparapany

Many people have said, “I’d love to do what you do!” and, “I can run a cat rescue just like yours!” Very, very few people have any desire to work 15-16 hour days seven days a week – without sick days or vacation…year after year.

It is not sitting around loving on the sweet cats most of the day. That describes an afternoon Open House.

What does it take to have a successful cat sanctuary? It is constantly bringing in funds and donations to keep the rescue stocked and able to provide vet care when it is needed – not begging for funds on social networks because Fluffy needs to have an expensive procedure! Delaying any vet care “until you can pay for it” is not doing right by the cats you have promised a lifetime home, filled with quality care, food and love. It is even more challenging when you do not fund any of your operations with federal, state or county support!

It is also gaining knowledge about nutrition, feline medical diseases and medications. It’s recognition of when the cat does not feel well because cats hide when they do not feel well, a skill that is part of their survival in the wild. A weak, sickly animal quickly becomes prey!

It’s having a building that is clean, free of disease, bugs, unwanted rodents and meets rigorous state regulations for animal shelters. It is providing leadership for a clean workplace where employees enjoy working with the animals, cleaning up after accidents and scooping litter boxes, doing multiple loads of laundry everyday and washing many food and water bowls several times a day. It’s daily grooming and loving-petting time for every cat. It’s giving the cats environmental enrichment with different toys, safe outdoor access with natural stimulation from birds at feeders, and plenty of warm cozy beds. It’s the promise of being with each cat as they cross the Bridge.

It is having an exit plan in place.  You will NOT live forever.  What happens to the animals when you die or are too old or sick to continue the job?    Sadly we see this happen often to "rescues" on Facebook.  Person dies all the animals are now in danger.

It is knowing priorities.  Making sure the animals are safe.  You always pay the building mortgage first,  never put the animals at risk of a foreclosure.   Again, we see this happen often to "rescues" on Facebook.  Person doing rescue in their home, spending all their money on the animals and not paying the house payment.  Now everyone is in danger because the house is being foreclosed on.

It is knowing how to say the word NO.  You can not save them all,  it is reality.  You must know where the limit is and say NO after that no matter how many sad stories and pleads there are.  I repeat, you Can NOT save them all!

It is remembering first and foremost.  A shelter/sanctuary/rescue is a business first.  You MUST use your head and run it like a business.  If you run by the seat of your pants with emotions controlling everything,  you will crash and burn.  You see it all the time on Facebook with rescues. 

Blind Cat Rescue was founded in 2005. It took many years of hard work to become the fantastic home for blind, FIV+ and FeLV+ cats we see today…

Alana agreed to a Q/A interview about the early years, the present and the vision for the future. This will be the first of two articles about BCR. Welcome to BCR – The Early Years.


Question: How did you get started in animal rescue?
Alana: My daughter, Stephanie, and I volunteered at a local shelter and ran their adoption program at PetSmart. We were also a foster home for them. A man came in trying to get the shelter owner to take a kitten. (The shelter owner worked as the dog trainer at PetSmart so she was on site.) The kitten was obviously very sick and his eyes were crusted shut. She refused to take the kitten without a donation to help pay for his medical care so the man said he was going to dump the kitten in the parking lot. The kitten looked so tiny, so sick and so scared, I said I would take him. His name was Little Louie – he was our first blind cat. Unfortunately, his illness took his eyesight. You can read Louie’s story at: http://blindcatrescue.com/Louie.html

  

Question: Who were the next blind cats? #2 and #3.
Alana: Bennie was our second cat. His owner was dumping him at the local shelter because she was moving back home with her mother, she was pregnant and couldn’t take Bennie with her. Bennie was 5 yrs old and he was born blind. He loved to sit outside under the trees and chasing the birds. He was a love bug who loved to be held.
You can read about Bennie at: http://blindcatrescue.com/Bennie.html


Bennie

Our third cat was Gracie. She came from a rescue in Kansas City, where she was dumped by her owner at 4 yrs old. Gracie’s owner told the vet to put her down; fortunately, the vet asked if she could find a home for Gracie. A wonderful woman fostered Gracie while they searched for a forever home. She put Gracie’s story on the internet where we saw it and volunteered to give her a home. Gracie was a very sweet girl. Sadly, on August 21, 2004, she passed away from fatty liver disease. I wish I had known as much about fatty liver and milk thistle then as I do now because we might have been able to save her.

Gracie



Question: At what point did you and Stephanie say, “If we’re going to do this, we need to do it right.”?
Alana: When we got to cat #4 – our Sweet Julie. Julie came from a very, very high kill shelter. The manager of the shelter just could not bring herself to kill her and had kept her alive at the shelter for almost 5 months!! The manager told us that Julie had been left at the gate in a cardboard box with kittens. Normally when they open a box like that the mom takes off, not Julie....she stayed and nursed her babies and then she took on 2 more litters that the shelter gave her before her milk finally dried up. The manager of the shelter felt that she had more than earned her right to stay alive. Julie was completely blind.



Julie



Question: When did you get your incorporation status?
Alana: In 2005.

Question: Did you have by-laws or covenant on how the organization would be run?
Alana: To become a non-profit (501-C 3), you must set up by-laws, etc. They are fairly simple to do but I was blessed with help from a wonderful lady who already had a non-profit rescue. She let me use her paperwork as an outline for Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary, Inc.

Question: When did you obtain your 501-C 3 non-profit status, which is important for donors to claim tax deductions on all monetary and in-kind gifts?
Alana: October 2005.

Question: Did you have reserve fund requirements?
Alana: There are no legal reserve requirements. We started on a shoestring with me paying for everything out of my own pocket from the start.    I personally have sent a reserve fund to provide for the safety of the cats. 

Question: Do you need a business license for North Carolina?
Alana: No.

Question: Do you need a business license for the city of St. Pauls?
Alana: No, because I am in the county. (Not in city limits)

Question: What about state regulations for animal rescues and shelters?
Alana: The state regulations come under the NC Dept. of Agriculture Animal Welfare Act. The laws are insanity – no contact with wood is one of the regulations! (This determines the entire building’s walls, ceilings and floors that an animal may come in contact with.)

Question: How often can/does the NC Dept. of Agriculture inspect rescue/shelter facilities?
Alana: Once a year, although we have never been inspected. I think they only inspect when they have a complaint about the shelter’s conditions. There are some very bad ones that they visit every month!

Question:  Does the NC Dept. of Agriculture inspect your finances?
Alana: No.  Our books are audited by an independent accountant.  We also report to the IRS and our IRS filings are public record.

Question: So your finances are openly available?
Alana: Yes, on http://guidestar.com

Comment: So anyone who donates to a charity or non-profit should check the organization’s finances before giving. 
Alana:  ALWAYS!!!  You may be horrified to see how your money is spent!  Baron and I were watching one of these  tug at your heart feed the starving children commercials the other day. I pulled up their financials,  showed that less than .40 of every dollar was used to feed the children.   They were spending over 10 million dollars on commercials, mailings, etc.   Like I said,  we were HORRIFIED!!    They were paying their CEO over 1/2 a million a year.   For the record,  I am paid $28,000  a year for a 60+ hour week. 

Question: Donors need to evaluate how much of every donated dollar actually goes to helping those intended, not to salaries, overhead, etc. (Check the financial statements on guidestar.com.)

Looking at your percentage of donations that actually go to the intended beneficiaries, the cats, vs. overhead – what is the percentage for BCR?

Alana: Overhead is subjective…ours this last year was 10%, which to me feels too high. BUT, when I look at it line-by-line, half of that was for repairs to the shelter and its buildings, which are over 8 years old. Redoing the driveway, redoing the entire “special room” interior (the spray room) and the spray room outer fencing, resealing the concrete catios, etc., so in reality, our overhead was 5%. That is a number I can live with.

 Overhead includes insurance (building and liability), work comp (required by the state – it is over $2,000!), and office supplies. It takes ink, stationary, and photo paper to send thank you letters, pictures to sponsors, etc. It also includes our numerous notebooks for health records, weights, medications and special vet care or in-house care for each cat.   It takes heat, electricity,  internet for the Ustream, paying the accountant, etc.

Question: When was groundbreaking and grand opening of the first building?
Alana: Our first building is actually the tiny building to the right of building 2. We built it around 2007.


Just built,  still had to add the fencing etc.  


Question: Did you design both buildings?
Alana: Yeap.

Question: What about electric and heat in case of power failure or snowstorms?
Alana: The heaters are propane (radiant heat) and run without electricity. No power, we have heat. We have a generator for power failures.  All well water is filtered to remove minerals and other impurities for drinking water.

Comment: So you are self-sufficient with respect to utilities, heat and water.
Alana: Yes. The rural location requires satellite dish for internet, which can be affected by severe weather. We would love to have solar for electricity but have not been able to find someone that wants the substantial tax breaks they would receive providing solar for us.  It would cost approx. $60,000

Question: Since the first cat, Louie, how many cats have lived at BCR?
Alana: Over the years, a total of 156.

Question: We’ll have more questions for ‘part two’ of the BCR history, but can you tell us what is the most enjoyable part of running BCR?
Alana: Getting kisses from the cats.



Stay tuned for part 2 , where they are at present and Alana’s vision for the future!