Wednesday, August 3, 2011

UPDATE: Story City Cat Massacre

There is an update on the Story County Cat Hoarding situation that took place last year. Many readers may remember the debachle that took place on this so-called rescue of an estimated 50+ some cats handled by the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. (Follow the original investigation here...)

They continue to remove themselves from any involvement professing they were only there to "assist" but as we stated one year ago, our investigation with local authorities clearly prove that they were called upon, and accepted, to lead the rescue efforts.

Recap: Family members turned to local authorities for assistance with a relative who had acquired a large number of cats. Living conditions were less than favorable and law enforcement contacted the county shelter for assistance. They declined to lead the efforts because they recognized their facility was not equipped to handle hoarding cases, whereas, a large number of animals may come in at one time, needing immediate veterinary care. Funding can be an issue, proper care and housing. (Note: We support and appreciate those organizations that recognize their own limitations). The county shelter did offer to house a few and offered any other assistance the lead rescue would need. A local veterinarian was called upon to coordinate medical care needs and the Animal Rescue League of Iowa was contacted to lead the rescue efforts.

Outcome: Since no final numbers have ever been provided by either the vet or rescue "in charge" of the organizations, facts we do have are that all but 12 cats were euthanized deemed "unhealthy" by the so-called "experts". Those twelve were taken by Dr. Lisa Deppe, DVM of Jewell Animal Hospital who also operates as a state licensed animal shelter. Those so called "unhealthy" felines were all saved, and while a couple did receive surgery (one had it's eye removed), the majority of them had upper respiratory infection (URI), which is very common in felines, especially those who reside outside. This infection is treatable by antibiotics and is not a "life-threatening" illness. They have since then found new homes and all are living happily ever after.

Dr. Deppe's dedication to animals goes above and beyond veterinary care. She was contacted by the ARL of Iowa to assist with the rescue efforts. She single-handedly lined up shelters and rescues "ready to receive". As a licensed veterinarian she was more than capable of determining whether a life could be treated and saved, and if not, she was equally qualified to offer them a humane ending. She was refused by her peers to offer any medical or rescue assistance whatsoever and stood by helplessly watching cat after cat be slated as "unsavable". She quickly recognized that the situation was not a 'rescue' at all, but in fact a removal project. This created quite a stir among those in the industry dedicated to saving lives, whereas, Dr. Deppe boldly stood up and expressed her disappointment in those "alleged" leaders of the animal welfare system who she had entrusted and respected. She stated her viewpoint in her Veterinary Rescuer blog whereas, animal advocates began asking a lot of questions. Dr. Deppe's bold decision to speak out had its repercussions, too. A scathing letter from a friend of the vet caused Dr. Deppe to publicly apologize for mentioning the vet's name in her blog. She never meant to throw any peer under the bus, but was appalled by the behavior and condescending manner in which these peers treated her the day of the rescue. A peace-seeking vet with an extraordinary heart for the welfare of animals, Dr. Deppe's dedication to animals continues to this day...helping rescues and individuals save lives despite those who disagree.  Although animal advocates stepped forth to support Dr. Deppe's courage of going against the norm of what lives "can and should" be saved, there is still that haunting image of the faces she watched sitting in a cage not knowing this was the last time they would ever see the light of day.

To this day, no one has been able to get an exact NUMBER of cats that were rescued, euthanized and/or rescued by either the Story City Chief of Police, the veterinarian placed in charge of medical care, or the ARL of Iowa. ARL's claim of rescuing 12 cats is under suspicion by those involved. We know 12 cats were released to Dr. Deppe who have been treated and are now living in wonderful homes. The media posted that the ARL saved 12 cats, but the ARL has not produced any further information on those twelve lives, (adopted or euthanized) nor would they answer any of the numerous telephone calls they received discussing the twelve's whereabouts. To this date, no one has stepped forward and professed they have "adopted" these so-called felines either.

Several people contacted RVAS and those other rescues who were waiting to receive these precious lives stating conflicting information that the ARL had given them via their inquiries. One caller said the ARL said they didn't have any cats from the Story City situation...another caller said the ARL is not disclosing any information at this time. Needless to say, many are skeptic that the ARL did anything other than stand by and watch numerous cats killed...doing nothing.

UPDATE: A Realtor contacted RVAS. Hired to sell the house, upon arrival to the property, they noticed the door slightly ajar. Posted on the door was the note "cat left inside". Apparently the "removal" team didn't complete their task leaving one cat to fend for itself. It's one year later. They remembered the story that was posted regarding this situation and contacted RVAS for assistance. We knew exactly who to call!

Dr. Deppe immediately stepped up, set a trap, and Mr. Kitty was neutered, vaccinated and relocated to a safe haven, where he would be able to live out the remainder of his kitty life. Feral by all definition, Mr. Kitty was taken to an acreage where the family members were trained in feral cat relocation. If not done properly, cats relocated can stray or be run out by a colony resident feline and left to fend for itself.

Alley Cat Allies, a national organization dedicated to education and awareness of the growing feral cat population in our country has set forth an excellent guideline to follow for the relocation and care of feral cats. Even more so, they help feline lovers identify a "true" feral, from a scared stray, and how to properly care for cat colonies. This is far more humane than a massive massacre of innocent lives who fall victim in the human hands of individual mental illness or non-compliant traditional animal welfare organizations.

Kudos to everyone who diligently worked to save the lives they were able to save despite resistance from those who profess to be animal welfare organizations. And a special thanks to the Realtor, who requested to remain anonymous, for her love for animals went above her daily work...and helped save a life...properly!

In short, not ALL animal welfare organizations support "animal welfare". On the other hand, places like RVAS, Jewell Animal Hospital, H.E.A.R.T., Agape Fosters, Animal Resource Foundation, Iowa Humane Alliance, just to name a few, are animal welfare organizations dedicated to saving lives through education, awareness, proper adoption screening, quality veterinary care, networking and advocate programs such as spay/neuter, FIV & Heartworm rescuing, educational classes and much, much more. These are all state-licensed organizations operating in compliance, networking together, to bring a sense of community to the animal welfare industry that is apparently missing in our state, as evident by the actions of those in charge of the Story City Hoarding Case.

Help save lives. Support those who support animal welfare!


  1. Penny WilliamsAugust 03, 2011

    Kudos to RVAS, Dr. Deppe, and the other rescues mentioned here. I still cry over these lives needlessly lost, and I pray that such a debacle is never allowed to happen again.

  2. A very special thanks to:

    ...all those who have not forgotten the lives that were lost that day.

    The dedication of Dr. Lisa Deppe, DVM to continue her original rescue.

    ...the kindness of the Realtor for seeking out humane help rather than relying on a "removal" service.

    ...the perseverance of those rescuers who went home that fateful day empty handed and yet continue to save lives today, despite their heavy hearts for those lives wasted.

    ...and for those individuals, who, speak out, for those who can't speak for themselves.

  3. I still remember the Story City cats and, since I have started fostering animals for my local shelter, I realize how relatively easy it is to take that extra step to save a life. The first animal we fostered was a lovely little orange female who needed to be with someone who could give her antibiotics for URI and could keep an eye out on a skin allergy -- perhaps to fleas! We kept her for a little over three weeks, returned her for an adoption event and made arrangements to adopt her ourselves if she didn't find a home in the event. She is now our newest cat & is a real charmer.

    We have also fostered a dog during her heart worm recuperation (6-8 weeks) and another dog with a fractured pelvis who needed confined healing for 6 weeks.

    It's not THAT hard to do that little extra to save lives. It's such a shame that the ARL could not encourage fostering out the Story City cats with URI!

    Again, my praise to Dr. Deppe and all those who put the animals first rather than the bottom line (whatever that is.)

  4. Every day I look up and say, "Thank You!" for Dr. Lisa Deppe, DVM and those like her and all the organizations that persevere in their attempts to save lives. I have thought of this story several times over the last year and while it makes me sad that situations like this continue to occur I am gladdened that RVAS and other organizations have the tenacity to expose those who engage in less than compliant behavior and cheer them on with each small victory. Dr. Lisa - You are a Rock Star! RVAS thanks for being a leader!

    Billie Jones
    humble volunteer

  5. A big thank you to all of those involved in this journey. It's nice to hear that another life was saved by those true rescuers!