Threading Through The Red Sea part 4: An Open Letter from A Hoarder

Last February, there was a cat sanctuary named Caboodle Ranch, home to a couple of hundred (some say a thousand) of cats. The sanctuary was raided after an “undercover” videotaping of sick cats in deplorable condition by none other than PeTA. ASPCA is said to be involved in the raid.

The raid raise global controversy unlike any other, and in the middle of the cloudy water, a fellow crafter for animal wrote a blog she said is “inspired” by the Caboodle Ranch case.

She said blatantly in her blog post that, despite has nothing to do with Caboodle Ranch, or PeTA, or ASPCA, and that she even didn’t know what exactly going on, she still think that the owner of Caboodle Ranch had passed the thin line between rescuing and hoarding, and that according to herself, the raid somewhat dwindled the public trust on rescuers. Moreover, she said that as a rescuer herself, much more further, she said that she feel betrayed and hurt by what Caboodle Ranch had done.

By the way, she also said along the line of, if we rescuer has common sense, we’d know our limit, and once we reach our limit, stop taking in more animals.

Deep in my heart, I know where she was going, and what she was trying to do with the post. A short while prior to that post, we all have a newsletter from a craft selling portal about the importance of social networking to our sales, and blogging, aside from the infamous Facebook and Twitter, is one of the best sales booster. And if you search the internet how to begin blogging, you will find that most advices say that you should start by hitting the heating topic, and go from there.

Combined by a sudden “boost” of enthusiasm (if I can’t say rather aggressive ambitiousness) that she had never shown before (e.g: by jumping into any volunteer vacancy in our crafter group) I think I got the big idea. She is trying to boost sales, and she was trying to ride the heat of Caboodle Ranch case. But I also think that, with all due respect, writing about heated topic without sound knowledge of the fact is killing herself, especially because here, in the animal welfare war, there are no lukewarm party, much less neutral one. Unless you are ready to swallow the flame, you’d better play it safe. Besides, playing sides and angered the other is definitely not going to boost any sales.

As a friend I was trying to warn her that it’s not good to judge without knowing all the fact, but she told me that she read enough from all the comments in Facebooks and websites (one of them are PeTA’s) and that gave her enough basics to write.

Since she didn’t seem to bother seeing what I was really trying to say at the bottom line, and the hint of “whatever you say folks, keep it for yourself, I am moving on” I just stay quiet instead of wasting my time by trying to go further.

Four days later, I got a notification that a reader (who are a complete stranger) put on a comment on her blog. She got her first flame.

Needless to say, she brush that off too, and after the same “I read enough” rebuttal, that was met with an even fiercer reply, she told her reader “I am so done with this topic, have a good day!”

Yaay…. (in an undertone)

Unfortunately, although I remained quiet during the short ‘flaming’ session, what she wrote in her blog about “stop taking in another animal when we reach our limit” disturbed me; because honestly, I don’t think it’s all that’s easy, even in a sovereign countries like USA or UK or even Switzerland (that as the strictest animal welfare law in the world) and much more in Indonesia, that has no animal welfare law.

I mean, if you were strolling on a park one day and found a skin-and-bone cat, so hungry that he meows weakly to anyone that passed, even if he’s been kicked around as result, and your house is full, would you walk away? If you walked your way to the office and found a tiny kitten that has been dumped on the road, and your house is overcrowded, would you turn your head the other way? If you see a cat with very ugly sinus that can’t even walk properly, would you close your eyes and just pass? If you just, by any chance, sit around and saw someone coming to you with a box of teeny weeny baby cats and dump them on you, and your house is full, would you just stand up and show your “attitude” on them? “Hey mister, my house is full, go find somewhere else, I am so done with cats, have a nice day!”?

This morning, as I cycle to the office, I saw a 6 months old cat, skin and bone and literally sun-dried (yeah, like chappy, flaky paint under scorching sun), so weak that she crinkled like raisin and can only lay by the road, waiting for his heart to stop.


Before we get to the answer to that, here is a copy and paste of how my associate define hoarder:

I consider myself a No Kill rescuer. […] The difference between someone like myself (for instance) and a hoarder is that the hoarder does not know his or her limits or chooses to ignore them.  This individual will become hyper-focused on the animals and will withdraw, rather than engage with anyone, let alone the rescue community.  The person will become isolated and may not let anyone onto their property.  A major clue to someone who may be a hoarder posing as a rescue is that they will not make efforts to–or even be open to–rehome animals.  That person is not a rescue.  That person is a hoarder.

We all know that my house is full, hence, I reached my limits. And there’s this cat on the road. So, I walked away? Sorry little cat, my house is full, and you are lying on the wrong road. Try another house….

But I picked that cat up, get back home, and put him on a cool compress, give him electrolyte, and offer him a small plate of soft food, and of course, late for work.

This is Indonesia. People are lynched because they are different, at least verbally abused for the rest of their life, and isolation is only small part of how people here treated those who are different, in any part. So, I am isolated because while people here treat animals like “thing” (of no value) I choose to treat animals like “one” (with all values attached) and I am not ashamed to show it.

But looking at the definition above, now I am a hoarder too?

Then come here and flame me. Come here and spat on me, call me a rescuers’ traitor, a disgusting piece of thing, bad mouth on me as you like, then, go inside my over crowded house, and meet the Whiskers’ Syndicate.

I have all the misfits in place: A cat with hernia (Renoir, he is now healed), a castaway Persian (Boo), a cat with twisted leg (Jan), another cat with no teeth whatsoever (Tortie), a cat that once walk by dragging his lower limb (Rexie II, he is now healed), a cat that’s so traumatic she will push herself under the pillow when she sees the stranger (Harley), a victim of vet malpractice (Sports), a cat that only meows once a year (Bobtail), or a black cat that’s blind (Braille), then meet Friskies, Tiger Lily, Blossom, Mini…

But hey, like many other who peeked in and surprised, I promise I won’t say anything when you mimic them saying “It’s not what I think it would be! They are healthy, clean, fat….”

Labeling people is as easy as categorizing fruits. Judging them from your personal perspective is as simple as pointing fingers, but I wish this fellow crafter, and to whom it may concern, understand that, deciding on something by regards of an individual definition is like looking onto the whole earth from a tiny speck of dew in the twilight.

And if you have that much sparks in your soul that you can define someone in such “robust” way, remember that rescuers are human beings like you, they just live in another bucket, one that might not be as sparkling as your metropolitan city, or as large as your grand house, nor as stern as your judging definition. Somewhere out there in Rwanda, someone is abandoning their family and become isolated because she is trying to save Gorillas from being victim of two extremist political parties at war. Somewhere out there Vietnam a group of young men and women are trying to help bears from being tortured to death for their bile and by that risking their lives. Somewhere out there in the jungles of India, fresh graduates abandons their bright future and roam through the forest  trying to save the tigers. Somewhere in the open sea, a boat-full of people are abandoning their land to guard the whales. Somewhere out there in Iceland or Japan, someone is filming like crazy to reach out on behalf of the dolphins. Somewhere in the most remote part of Borneo, strangers are trying to save the Lorises and orangutans from being poached to extinction in the name of Palm Oil. Somewhere here, in Bandung, a capital breeder city of Indonesia, a small pair of hand is trying to at least ease the lives of 400 thousand stray cats that otherwise will never know what it means to be alive. (Don’t eyeball on that 400 thousand. That’s statistical data obtained on February 2010).

We are lonely, we are isolated, alone, oppressed, in fear and worry. We are in permanent financial recession, we are far from our families and the luxury of your safe, green-grassed yard. We are tired, but we can’t just stop and go on a vacation. Our house, or facilities, are full, but unfortunately we do not share your cold heart to just walk away and stop rescuing just because our facilities are full. We have all of your indication of a hoarder. We, human beings just like you, are longing for affection and understanding, but we cast our own need away because there are these animals who need those compassion and understanding more than we do, and while we still can write websites, blogs, take photos and reach out to the world, the animals that represent our cause might not have any chance even for one second.

We will be happy for you if you get your happiness on that boost of sales, or by labeling us, but before you shut us down and tell us to have a nice day, let us say that our happiness does not come from an empty house. Our happiness comes from being able to save lives, even if it is only one more.

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Josie And The Whiskers' Syndicate

The first and only cat refuge in Bandung (West Java - Indonesia) a capital breeder of a nation without animal welfare law. We care for Bandung's unwanted animals, operate a TNR as much as our budget allows, and continue to educate people about compassion to animals

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