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Norwich Bulletin - 10/5/2008

The Flavor of the Week

Camden County, New Jersey, has a population of over 500,000 people. Recently an orange and white cat was found wandering one of the streets and was taken to the Camden County Animal Shelter. Prince Chunk received instant worldwide fame when they discovered this fat cat weighed in at an astonishing forty-four pounds!

Except for his obvious obesity, he was given a clean bill of health by the veterinarian. The owner of the cat finally stepped forward and said that she had lost her home to foreclosure and left Prince Chunk behind as she had nowhere to live. Photos and videos were all over the internet and Prince Chunk even appeared on the ďLive with Regis and KellyĒ show.

Thousands of people from as far away as London and California called to ask about adopting Prince Chunk and over five hundred people actually applied to adopt this ten year old cat. A wonderful family with experience with cats adopted the famous feline and the shelter is actually keeping their identity a secret! How crazy is that! Anyway, we are of course, pleased for Prince Chunk, who we hope will be put on a slow weight loss program, as being obese puts him at the same risks it puts humans: diabetes, heart problems and arthritis.

Thatís the good part of this column. Now comes the part that is very depressing. Not one of the five hundred people who flocked to adopt Prince Chunk wanted any of the more than two hundred other cats and kittens at the Camden County Animal Shelter! Only the flavor of the week got adopted, None of the other felines were deemed important or famous enough to save from euthanasia Ė none of the other felines were deemed worthy of adoption.

This is what happens everywhere, even in our small towns here in Connecticut. I put a picture in the paper of a lovely cat who was one of ten cats left in a parking lot and only the one in the picture got a home. So every week I had to put another catís picture in the paper and it took ten weeks to find homes for these cats. How wonderful it would have been if people were actually willing to come and see the other cats before their pictures are put into the paper. Believe me, we groups would love to be able to afford to put all of our pictures in the paper, but finances prohibit us from doing that. And so all the cats sit and wait.

Last year the Camden County Animal Shelter euthanized almost 1,000 unwanted cats, which is about a third of the cats that they took in. Just imagine if half of the people who applied to adopt Prince Chunk had come in to meet the other cats(and if they had decided that they could adopt this one cat, that means that they had the ability to adopt another cat in general), the number would have gone down to 750! What is wrong with people that they only want the cat in the paper?

The famous cat Ė they need to have that five minutes of fame as the family who adopted the featured pet of the week. Are we really that shallow that we canít love and adopt the cat in the next cage? The cat or kitten that may be as loving, or even more loving than the featured cat? The cat that was abused and needs an extra bit of love and patience to learn how to love and trust again?

In these hard times, more and more wonderful animals are being left in shelters that have no recourse but to euthanize, as there is limited space and money to care for the homeless and unwanted and there are more cats than homes. Anyone who has considered adopting the cat or dog in the paper should at least consider going to visit the shelter and perhaps find another little face that will tug at your heartstrings.

Anyone who wishes they could adopt the cat or dog in the paper but knows they cannot afford to do so, should consider donating $1 to the care of the animals that are waiting for new families. If all of those thousands of people that initially wanted Prince Chunk had done so, it would have meant a lot of help for those animals left behind.

I know we canít save them all and it breaks my heart. I know I am not very nice when people call me because they want to surrender their cat because of a new boyfriend, a sudden allergy, moving, behavioral problems they donít want to deal with, a new baby, or because the animal belonged to a relative who has died; but it is because I believe that you owe it to your animals to work through the problem and keep your pet.

After all, you accepted the responsibility of a life and you should not be allowed to just throw it away. If you find a way to keep your own animals, it means less will die that are already homeless. Think about that before you call or email me to take your personal pet.

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