Running for Hurley!
I wanted to take a moment to tell you the story of Hurley. Hurley is a cat that I will never forget and a cat that defined for me the motivation for much of the work that I have done over my 24 year career with the MSPCA. Hurley was a wonderful orange 6 month old cat that came to our adoption center as a stray that someone found in Lawrence and brought to us in hopes of finding a loving home. Unfortunately he came to us at the peak of our intake season and joined a crowd of a hundred or so other cats that were in our shelter and foster homes seeking the same thing - a home. Hurley was sick with upper respiratory when he first came in and with no cages available in our isolation space, I decided to take this grubby little orange cat home with me to foster him until he was well enough for adoption. Hurley was a super nice guy and my roommates and I loved his antics. He grew stronger and healthier in our care as he prepared to go back to the shelter for adoption. One of the funny things about him was that he loved his little blanket that he had in his cage at the shelter and he snuggled with it all the time in our house. Once he was healthy, I brought Hurley back to work with his little blanket and was hoping he would get adopted quickly. Unfortunately there were so many cats at our shelter that he stuck around for a few days and a few days after he came back, our shelter was hit with an outbreak of panleukopenia (i.e. feline distemper). Panleukopenia is a deadly disease and despite there being a vaccine to protect against it, many of the cats in our community had never received a vaccine and when the shelter was unlucky to receive a surrender of a cat with this disease, the results were devastating. By the time we learned of the cat with panleuk, the expectation was the exposure to the other cats in our building was inevitable. I immediately decided to bring Hurley back home for foster in hopes that he was not exposed or that the one vaccine he received on intake would give him the protection he needed to fight off the virus. Once Hurley was home we hoped and prayed each day that he would get through the two week quarantine time that he would not show symptoms, but on day 7 I woke up to find Hurley was sick and it was clear that he contracted the disease. I rushed him to the vet in hopes that I could recover him but where this disease attacks red blood cells, the vet confirmed my worst nightmare that he was not going to survive. We euthanized him that day and cremated his body along with the blanket that he loved so much. We sprinkled his ashes together and said goodbye, like I had done so many other times with cats that did not make it out of our shelter alive. I vowed then that I would work tirelessly to help cats in our community in his memory.
I'm crying now as I recall his memory and all of the hard times that we went through trying to help cats in our communities. The feeling of hopelessness is one that I felt many times as we struggled through how we may help cats. I remember being angry at our community that they let this happen. Why wouldn't they spay/neuter or vaccinate their cats? Why would they let things get this bad? It took some years before I realized that the issues we were dealing with in our communities didn't have to do with people not caring or loving their cats, but rather that they simply did not have access to affordable care. Most of the communities where the cat issue was so overwhelming were dealing with poverty in a way I could not personally understand. However, when we came to this realization that the only way we were going to help cats was to help provide this access. For the past six years our organization along with supporters like the Catvocates have developed numerous programs to increase adoptions in our adoption centers, provide very low cost or free spay/neuter services, free vaccination clinics and direct door to door outreach, we have largely resolved the issues with cats in our community. Although there is still work to be done, panleukopenia outbreaks are hardly ever seen, our intake of homeless cats has dropped by thousands, our adoption rates have climbed significantly and the number of cats being euthanized is minimized to cats with untreatable medical issues or severe aggression.
I am proud of the work we have done for cats and the difference we have been able to make in our communities through creative programming and a dedicated team of staff and volunteers that work tirelessly to help people and animals.
This fundraiser is our largest fundraiser of the year and its success allows us to continue this important work. I hope you help me honor Hurley by making a donation of any size to help all of the future Hurleys of the world.
Please support me in the Fast and Furriest!
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