I made the call to Animal Services yesterday.
I began by saying that I was sure it was not animal hoarding, even though my brother Steve has been trying to feed and care for them all. It began years ago, when my folks were still in their seventies. One neighbour dropped off an un-neutered Siamese, which got several females pregnant. Many of those animals stayed in the outbuildings and those kittens got pregnant. And so on.
We started talking about getting help last year. This year, it became unmanageable.
At any rate, after the first few minutes, the officer explained that since Steve is the one that tries looking after them, he'd be the one facing charges. At that point I got very upset and pointed out that Steve is a caregiver for our aging parents - he cleans the kitchen and floors and bathroom and also helps with yardwork and snow removal. He drives 100 miles round trip every week just to help Mum with the dishes and to change her bedding.
It's taken us years to act on this for this very reason alone, but now it is more important to improve quality of life for my parents.
Animal Control asked about adoption - did I think if they got several agencies involved, could they be rounded up, treated and adopted out?
"Maybe a small percentage," I replied. "But most are infested with mites, fleas, worms and disease. Personally, I think over 90% of them need to be euthanized."
They asked for a legal land description and I couldn't give it - yet.
"I need time to talk to my parents and my sister. They have one dog and three cats that are fixed and need to be removed before anyone shows up."
"We wouldn't seize that first day," she said.
"I need the weekend. Here is my on-call cell number and my husband's. If you don't hear from by Monday at noon, feel free to contact me."
I have to say that making that call was scary. I didn't cry on the phone with the officer, but did cry talking to my sister. Later, when Bill's sister Cathy offered to help clean the farm afterward, I cried again. "It's so bad, Cathy - I don't know if I could bear taking you out there."
I called Jim (step-father) to let him know that things were going to be proceeding quickly once the address was given. "I want for you and mum to be able to stay in that house. Also, if we had left it and someone else reported it, you would face charges because you're the landowner."
"I don't want the house condemned."
"I know. Don't tell Steven."
"He'll be here Monday night to clean but will leave again Tuesday morning - "
"I'll let them know. Debbie will take Buddy (Steve's cat) and Cathy is taking Lucy. We'll take the other two cats that are fixed -"
"They can stay here, in another room."
"I don't think so - they recommended we have those animals completely removed so as not to hinder the seizure."
The next week is going to be long and hard. You know, if you had told me this would happen when I was eighteen, I would laughed in your face. Back then, Jim made sure the cat population was under control! It's scary seeing what can happen, once you get old! I hope my kids are around to help us out.