Tuesday, August 12, 2008
(Update to the update: If you're returning here after reading this piece already, there is cogent commentary in the "comments" section.)
(If you didn't read my previous piece concerning Dorothy, you may not truly understand much of what is said here. So, for background, here is the original.)
It seems that Dorothy has many friends. Also, a few enemies.
From The Boston Globe, August 9th:
A Franklin condo association's plan to trap and exterminate a colony of feral cats was temporarily called off yesterday due to public outcry.
Roy Blanchard, manager of the property, said his office has been swamped with calls and e-mails demanding that the roundup be called off.
"I've been threatened and the e-mails just won't stop and the phone calls just won't stop," Blanchard said. "People are very emotional about these cats. I'm getting calls from people in Maine. Calls from lawyers."
That's good news. If you wish to add your cheerful greetings to Mr. Blanchard's day, I'm sure the cats wouldn't mind. If you do so, please be polite. Dorothy doesn't want to antagonize anyone. She wants to help the cats, not make more enemies for them.
Roy Blanchard, Property Manager
c/o Pioneer Property Management
15 Florence Street
Franklin, MA 02038
Telephone (508) 528-9242
Fax (508) 541-6113
Back to the story:
[pleased is] 81-year-old Dottie Luff, who refers to herself as the condos' "crazy cat lady." Luff, who has lung cancer, walks into the woods twice a day to feed the cats. She said that there are as many as 15 cats living in the woods, and that they are like children to her.
"My doctor said the cats are what's keeping me alive," Luff said. "I have no intention of stopping feeding them."
For the complete article, please go to: Feral Cats Get Reprieve (via Boston Globe website)
Reading the story in full, one line sticks out.
Marilyn McAneny, a condo association board member and no fan of the cats, said she and other tenants have been waiting for Luff to die before [killing the cats.]
I'm not so unintelligent as to just go off on a rant about that. I understand the context of the quote. The condo association figured that they'd not be immediately troublesome to Dorothy, since she is going to expire at some point. In a way, it could be taken as a kindness, right? It paints a macabre picture, though, of folks who are listening for some soul's last breath to be had, and then taking that as their cue to begin offing a bunch of other living creatures.
(Gee, it's awfully hard not to be sympathetic to their cause, eh?)
After reading the Globe story, I decided it would be a good time to give Dorothy a call and catch up on things. Since so many of you have done kindnesses for Dorothy and her cats, I figured you'd like to know. Obviously, a lot has been happening since I last talked with her. As it turned out, there was even more happening than I knew.
When I got home from work, there was a message on my answering machine. It was from my Uncle Jim - Dorothy's cousin - whom you may know from his occasional comments here. When I found out about the Globe story, I told him about it. In his phone message, he said that he had given Dorothy a call, but she had asked him to call back later. The reason was because WCVB-TV, Channel 5 (ABC) in Boston, sent a camera crew out to her place today, did a story, and it was going to be on the evening news at any moment.
(To see the televised story, go here. When you click onto the video, you'll have to sit through a short ad. Be patient.)
Channel 5 did a fair and even-handed job, in my estimation. Dorothy said they were very nice. She had especially kind words for Jack Harper, the on-camera reporter of the piece. When the crew showed up to do the story, Dorothy was unloading the weekly 220 cans of cat food from her car. Jack Harper carried them inside for her.
I talked to Dorothy for a goodly while. Aside from Channel 5 and The Globe, there have been stories in a number of local newspapers. Dorothy says that, between feeding the cats, defending them from being killed, and giving interviews, she hardly has time for anything else. She said it with a laugh, of course. That’s Dorothy. Her health isn’t improving, and she knows it, but she jokes and smiles and loves that her cats have as many defenders as they do.
As a result of the television story, she immediately received phone calls from people she hadn’t heard from in years. For instance, her former pastor, a Father O’Leary, called just before I did. She hadn’t seen him in 13 years. How nice is that?
Here’s something even nicer. Because of the stories in the local papers, the last time Dorothy was at the supermarket buying her weekly supplies, she received a very nice surprise. As she was checking out with the 220 cans, word spread about who the lady was with all of that cat food. The other shoppers started applauding. They shouted encouragement and a couple of them donated a few bucks to the cause. God bless them.
Dorothy talked at length about the very nice people at the Purr-Fect Cat Shelter in Medway, Massachusetts. They’re the folks who supply the dry food for the cats, as well as doing many other services for Dorothy’s friends in the woods. They are at the forefront of fighting for the survival of the cats. No healthy cat that comes into their care is ever killed. All cats accepted into the shelter have a home for as long as they live (or until some kind soul adopts them.)
Dorothy also has friends at the local Animal Control in Franklin. The general consensus there seems to be that the cats pose no real harm to anyone. The population is shrinking now, of course, since they and the shelter have coordinated to catch the cats, spay and neuter those who are healthy, and then release them back into Dorothy’s care. Without the cats breeding willy-nilly, there will continue to be a limited number of them.
One of the most remarkable people Dorothy mentioned was a local veterinarian by the name of Hedley Marks. Whenever Dorothy finds kittens in the woods, she brings them to Doctor Marks. He gives them shots, makes sure they’re healthy in general, and then finds homes for those he can. Some go to the Purr-Fect Cat Shelter, but many end up with loving owners in comfortable homes. How many? Dorothy says that one day, while waiting for a kitten to be given an exam, a secretary decided to bring up Dorothy’s record, just for kicks. Seeing the record, she asked Dorothy if she had any idea how many kittens Dorothy had delivered into Dr. Marks’ care. As it turned out, the number was over 300 during the many years Dorothy has taken care of her cats. That’s quite an amazing number.
Even more amazing is the fact that Dr. Marks has never charged Dorothy a single penny for his services.
(If you’re a praying person, how about offering one up for the good doctor?)
I made a date to visit Dorothy again, a week from this coming Saturday. I plan to be there at about noon, just in time to help her feed the cats. I’ll take a few more photos, if possible, and report back to you then.
Soon, with more better cats.
P.S. I need to thank my faithful reader, Miriam, for bringing the Globe story to my attention. I’d give her blog a plug, but she doesn’t have one. If there’s anything else I can do for you, Miriam, just let me know.