Thank you Petco Foundation for your generous help during this disaster.
Please consider donating so we can continue to be a resource to the cats in need in northwest Florida and southern Georgia? Now more than ever, there is a need to reduce overpopulation, euthanasia rates, and suffering in our community.
Over the past few days you have read about some of the cats that we have helped locally during 2018. We typically serve Leon, Gadsden and Wakulla county, but since the devastation of hurricane Michael we are receiving requests for help from Jackson, Gulf, and Bay county. Bay County has lost their Spay and Neuter clinic and their Humane Society is still without telephone service. These areas are in dire need of help with the cats and kittens that are homeless as a result of the hurricane.
The media has minimized the impact to the animals. In addition to the initial 250 cats and kittens taken in during the first three days after the storm, IMON has received even more requests for help with cats that have been abandoned and from shelters and rescues that were destroyed. We are caring for 180 cats/kittens and we anticipate this number to grow as we receive more requests for help following the hurricane.
IMON began operating again two days after the storm. We received emergency messages on Facebook from smaller cat rescues in Gulf and Bay counties that had to close due to the hurricane. With all the damage and road closures it took another two days to get to Panama City where we transported 250 cats to Tallahassee and dispersed the cats to foster homes that were available. Four days after the storm, 90% of Tallahassee and its surrounding areas were still without power and cell service. We are running an aggressive foster program to house more abandoned cats as they wander the destroyed areas of Panama City and Port St. Joe in search of food. We have not been able to get into Mexico Beach and fear that most of the animals in the area have already perished along with the approximately 200 residents that stayed during the storm.
Since we have been back in operation, we have been aiding a Panama City resident who is the only feeder in her devastated area. As she sets out more and more food, more cats appear. We continue to spend numerous volunteer hours and resources in her area to aid these cats. We trap as many of the cats as we can in one trip and bring them back to Tallahassee to be scanned for microchips and to have them seen by a veterinarian. Throughout Panama City and other affected cities, cats and kittens continue to aimlessly roam, looking for food. We are in dire need of humane traps and money for the vet bills (which are already being billed at a heavily discounted rates). We also need food, litter, microchip scanners, and carriers. IMON partners with three vets that are heavily discounting services. The area stores that are operating in cities greatly affected by the hurricane do not have a lot of supplies for cats, and residents are asking for help from us to get supplies.
As we reflect upon all the cats that still need help, we remember this story of a young boy and his grandfather walking on the beach:
A grandfather and his grandson were taking a sunset stroll along a beach, watching the waves roll in and the tide roll out. Occasionally, the grandfather would pause and pick up a sand dollar and toss it back into the ocean.
After a few more paces, the Grandpa paused again and reached for another sand dollar. His grandson tugged on his grandpa’s arm and asked “Grandpa... what are you doing?” His grandpa picked up a sand dollar in his hand and showed it to the young boy.
Then, in a knowing voice, weathered by age but filled with experience, the Grandpa explained, “These sand dollars are alive. They’ve been washed up here on the shore by the high tide, but now they’re stranded. They can’t make it all the way back to the water on their own and they need our help. If they don’t get back into the water soon, well... they’re going to die.”
As they continued their walk, Grandpa paused yet again to pick up another sand dollar. With a curious look on his face, the grandson pulled at his Grandpa’s arm one more time. “Grandpa, there’s a lot of sand dollars on this beach. You really think what you’re doing is going to make a difference?”
Grandpa turned back to his grandson with a caring smile and asked, “We made a difference for that one... didn’t we?”