I thought the ASPCA was supposed to PREVENT cruelty to animals?

Yesterday, (Sunday, Sept. 5, 2010) My family and I went to the ASPCA to “adopt” a cat. Now, anyone who knows us, KNOWS we are all about “all creatures great and small” and would, if we could, have a house OVERRUN with our furry friends. I am one who watches in amazed puzzlement, the news shows about people who complain that deer or bears are eating the gardens. I mean, it’s THEIR land, regardless of what we’ve deluded ourselves into thinking because some book has “given us dominion over the creatures of the air and land”. Animals were here first.

Yes, we love animals and they in turn (being more in tuned with the real people on the insides than we are) love us. I often tell the story about a time when I was commuting to NYC for work and one summer I enrolled my child at a YMCA summer camp program, near Lincoln Center. We would leave together in the mornings and we’d return together in the evenings. We were living in an industrial section of our city and there was a gated factory between the bus stop and our apartment, with two incredibly mean (upon first glance) and dangerous-looking Rottweilers. One day, we were walking towards home and I was distracted for a second looking for my keys in my handbag, when I realized that my child was not walking besides me. I turned to see him sticking his hand in the gate behind which the aforementioned “hounds of hell” were held. I could feel a scream rising in my throat as I anticipated the shrieks of pain that were about to come out of my child. As I slowly approached I was completely caught off guard by the scene of these two behemoths jockeying for position to be petted by my child and as they fought to lick my child’s hand.

Yes, animals are drawn to us and trust us. This is why I found it all the more frustrating when we were turned down by the ASPCA when we attempted to adopt (which in real world terms means BUY) a cat. Yes, I will admit we have a mouse problem. So, our logical conclusion was to not only add a family member, but one who would do one of the things it was supposed to do…hunt. I mean that’s what cats do, right?

So, imagine our shock, our utter frustration and anger when we were turned down. This is how it played out…

I downloaded their application off of their website. It asks questions like: “Do you have other animals?”, “Are there any small children in the house?”, “Do you want a frisky pet?”, “How long will the pet be alone in the house?”…ALL good questions designed to match the “right” pet to the “right” family. At the end of the questionnaire, it states “We would like a pet who is….” (I filled the blank with “a good mouser”.) Why, oh why was I stupid enough to be honest with these people? Why didn’t I know how completely evil this “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals” is? What was I thinking?

We (my mother, who is almost crippled with arthritis, my child and I) set out from northeast NJ to go to the closest ASPCA which is in the upper east side (424 E. 92nd St., to be exact). Our journey took us two and a half hours one way, which was fine because we were all so excited to get a cat! We finally get there and go inside. There’s a huge glass wall with all these cute, furry cats! There was one, in particular, that looked so cute, curled up and sleeping. They were simply adorable! But so sad-looking being encased in behind this thick glass, sharing space and two cat litter boxes with at least 12 other cats. This made us even more determined to “free” at least one of them and give it a home. We were met at the door with a friendly volunteer who took our ID and went over our application. She then asked us to sit and wait. While we were waiting, a family of three was turned down, a 19-year-old woman was turned down because you apparently have to be 21 in order to adopt/buy an animal and another family was also turned down.

A few moments later, this cold, calculating female human who had obviously had her humor and people skills removed came over and sat in front of the walled cat prison. She then proceeded to tell us that they didn’t have any mousers.

I looked puzzled and glanced behind her at all the cats/mousers. Ummm, ok… She then continued to tell us that they preferred to find homes for cats who would be part of a family. (I didn’t remember a section of the application that I filled out indicating that I was running a mouse factory, or that I planned to keep the cat locked in a window-less basement, chained to a wall. Maybe it was tattooed on my face, somewhere?) She continued that through “behavior modification” they train cats… hold for a moment… TRAINED cats?! It was my understanding that cats could not be trained. (At least, that’s what every animal show that showcased cats has said. And, behavior modification?! Why do I get a vision of cats wired to electrodes that get zapped everytime they even look at a mouse, in my head?) … but, yes she was saying they train cats so that they don’t chase mice because mice are toxic. (Are you confused, yet?)

So, the ASPCA is in the business of selling animals that have been behaviorally modified to act more human so they can fit in? I wasn’t aware that you could suppress thousands of years of instinct. Even circus cat handlers carry guns, just in case…I mean Roy of Seigfried and Roy fame is a prime example of how cats are NOT trainable. But here is some person in a position of power, exerting her power over me and making a decision about the kind of person I am, based on a few words on a piece of paper.

So, yes, we were turned down. The ASPCA would rather be lord god on high to decide who adopts/buys a pet based on ten seconds of vetting you at the door and a few words on an application. The ASPCA would rather keep animals in glass rooms, rather than actually preventing that kind of cruelty and finding them a home.


About adauphin04

Humanist, feminist, writer, filmmaker. Ford is an alumni of Bloomfield College, where she majored in Media Studies/Communications and minored in English Literature. While attending Bloomfield College, as a single parent she worked full-time, was on the High Honors list, and a member of the National Honors Society. As a graduate, Ford was listed in the Who’s Who of College Students in America. She has been working at Westminster Arts Center for eight years, is an avid reader and film-goer, writes novels, graphic novels, screenplays and poetry. She is currently working on a feminist docu-drama entitled, "You're Not the Boss of Me!" She is also currently in pre-production with her first feature film "Being Free". Ford lives with her son, Jason, and their pets: Boo (a cat) and Akasha (a ball python). Ford and family are beginning a new chapter in their lives and relocating to Colorado in October 2016.
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One Response to I thought the ASPCA was supposed to PREVENT cruelty to animals?

  1. With the overpopulation of cats,one would think that the ASPCA would be happy to find new homes for the kitties,instead of turning down darn near everyone who would like to adopt.I just dont get it.I applaud you for doing your best to give an unwanted cat a forever home.


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