What??!!! A problem with the farm?! How could that be? Lovely web site, happy contented animals, beautiful scenery and the promise of a lovely spring and glorious summer. Our problem is we had to say "no."
Gemini Farm is like hundreds of other rescues and sanctuaries. We take in animals until we are full. We could even call ourselves a no kill sanctuary and pat ourselves on the back. But just like every other sanctuary, at some point we are full. We don't have the space or the financial resources to add more animals. (Cat food alone cost $6500 last year)Yes, once in a while we are able to take in a creature in need but we have to say no to far more than we once did. We are able to care for the animals we have brought in but we have reached our limit. To say we are grateful to those who have offered assistance is an understatement, as we could not do what we do without those donors. Oh, we could still be a rescue but we wouldn't have as many animals as we have.
So why not just get more donations or add more cages you say? First of all, lots of people say they want to help but in the end, they tell their friends about us but cannot do more. But more importantly, no matter how many donations we get, or how much available space we might have, at some point we will once again be full and back to saying no. Being full is more than just not having cage space. It is reaching our limit on providing quality care and attention to each animal. It is knowing that we must keep some space and funding in reserve so we are able to provide veterinary care for those that get sick or injured.
This is the problem with organizations, individuals and even shelters that say they are no kill. They get more donations because they are no kill, but no matter how many donations they get, most no kill always ends up being full. All of them (us included) have limited space and resources. When those limits are reached, they must say "no" to the animal in need and saying no will haunt them forever.
Did you ever wonder what happens when a sanctuary, rescue group or shelter that is no kill turns an animal away? You should wonder. The animals that are turned away because there is no room often end up at kill shelters, abandoned along side the road to be hit by a passing car or slowly starve, given to anyone who will take them, or much worse. Just because a shelter is no kill doesn't mean that everything is rosey in that community and there are no animals in need. It usually just means the animals that arrive at the door once the last cage is full are turned away. Those that are turned away often die, but the no kill can say they don't kill.
Some rescues and organizations don't say no (because saying no is an awful thing to have to say to an animal in need) and very often the animals must suffer because of a lack of resources, crowded conditions, lack of funding or lack of time for proper management of the facility. Everyone starts out with great intentions but many of the hoarders we hear about in the news started out as animal lovers who just wanted to help and could not say no.
Whether we want to admit it or not, while providing cage space to needy animals is kind and does prevent suffering, it isn't a solution to the real problem. Until we stop the flow of unwanted puppies and kittens....no kill rescues and shelters will always reach their limit and have to say "no." The kill shelters will continue to have to put animals to sleep to make room for the next animal at the door because no one wants them and their staff will have to attend regular grief counseling in order to do their job and keep their doors open. And for those that don't find cage space or are put to sleep humanely, they will continue to be placed with the first person that comes along or abandoned and left to suffer.
The solution for Gemini Farm, and all the other rescue organizations who find themselves full and saying "no", is the prevention of the birth of all those precious babies that have no hope of a wonderful future. In the end, the solution is not more cages or more food donations. We must all work together to promote low cost and free spay neuter. Gemini Farm, in partnership with Paws & Claws Society, Inc manages the SAFER Cats On The Border Project which provides FREE spay and neuter of feral and stray cats in our community. To date we have fixed 490 plus cats. But this trap, neuter and return program only addresses two very small communities.
Find rescues and shelters that have Trap, Neuter, Return programs and, after verifying their program is active and clearly helping the community, donate to those programs. Find community programs that provide free spay neuter programs for lower income families. If you want to make a different get active in your communities to get funding for FREE spay neuter clinics for low income homes. Or develop funding sources to supplement veterinary costs so that these homes can get their pets fixed through grants and private funding sources.
The key is STOP THE PRODUCTION, not just build another sanctuary or start another rescue group. These organizations are wonderful for the animals that live in them and they do serve a purpose. But what about the thousands who get there too late to find space? Preventing their birth is the key and directing donations to programs that focus on the problem will go a long way to solving the problem and not just providing a home for a tiny fraction of those in need.
Support rescues and shelters that adopt out only puppies, kittens, dogs and cats that have been spayed or neutered BEFORE adoption. Adopting with a spay neuter refundable deposit is a nice idea but many people do not follow through and these animals often contribute to the numbers of unwanted puppies and kittens produced.
And last, we need to make owning an unsprayed or unneutered pet socially unacceptable. People need to be proud to own a pet that is spayed or neutered. The phrase "All my pets are fixed" should be a sign that the community as a whole is working hard to show compassion and kindness to the some of the most vulnerable members of the community. The phrase should reflect a community that teaches their children that compassion for all living things is important and preventing the birth of unwanted animals is preventing suffering and is a way to show that compassion.
Yes, Gemini Farm has a problem. We had to say "no." But the solution is right there in front of us and if we all work together we can make sure that no animal will be turned away, no-kill shelters and sanctuaries will always have room and every puppy or kitten born will find a loving home. SPAY THEM, NEUTER THEM, LOVE THEM!!!!