Welcome to the 51 Cats sanctuary-project preliminary discussion pages. If you have read part three of the 51 Cats story then you should already have a rough idea of the proposed scope and nature of this project. However, this is an open project which is meant to evolve, with the possibility of many areas branching off in multiple directions simultaneously. It is our hope that many innovative thinkers will congregate here and help us design the ultimate in inexpensive, self-sufficient and symbiotic, feline-human co-habitats.
These pages are not intended for the actual detailed project work. We will need the power of an Internet forum for that. (anyone know of a quality, free, Internet-forum host?) Instead, think of these as temporary, introductory pages meant to stimulate discussions that will serve to shape and focus this project prior to beginning the detailed work.
This project needs people from a broad spectrum of skills and experience, form technical editing and inventive tinkering to software development and structural engineering. So take a look around. Leave no stone unturned. Who knows what ways you may find to contribute.
Fostering A Spirit of Cooperation Across the Nation
Animal shelters in close proximity tend to view one another as competitors. Each being a separate corporate entity, they are responsible for their own solicitation programs and therefore compete for donor dollars. Shelters that think like a business have no financial incentive to take on animals from other nearby shelters. Shelters with heart may help each other out on occasion, but from what I can see, their is no common, long-distance, networking infrastructure in existence – at least none that I’ve encountered so far. (Anybody know of one?)
As a result, in areas with high concentrations of homeless pets, when some facilities are over capacity, the least adoptable animals get euthanized, even though there are likely other facilities within 100 miles that have space available. How far would you be willing to drive to give a cat or dog another chance? Other over-full shelters designated as “no-kill” may simply have no choice but to refuse to accept new animals. Yet, when left with no easy recourse, irresponsible pet owners may resort to abandonment.
It is easy to see how homeless pets would significantly benefit form large coordinating networks of cooperating shelters. 7th Heaven Animal Rescue Trust a foster charity in Northern Ireland, says it well. “We do not believe in a ‘them and us’ ethos. All animals deserve the best standard of care and this can only be achieved if all the charities co-operate with each other. We should all be striving towards the same goal of assisting animals in need.” (The preceding was copied without permission.)
In America, there are some associations for breed-specific rescue groups such as The American Boxer Rescue Association and Keeshond Rescue of North America, and then of course there is Petfinder.com which is a free, online, pet-adoption database that represents the largest multi-shelter adoption effort I’ve ever seen. I believe all these guys have the right Idea, but there is obviously so much more that we can do.
The 51 Cats sanctuary-network concept is an attempt to step-up-to-the-plate and meet this challenge head on, at least for cats. It is our hope that many dedicated souls will be able to use the design-templates provided through the efforts of this open social-project to create several large cat sanctuary networks spread across America. Each super-low-cost, highly self-sufficient sanctuary facility will maintain a relationship with all participating nearby shelters and the network itself will serve as a means of balancing the load, giving more cats a second chance than ever before. (Kind of like an underground railroad for cats.)
Rather than have each sanctuary facility be incorporated and attempt to run its own solicitation programs, as is most often the case with shelters today, each sanctuary network corporation will instead manage all of the sanctuary facilities in its region, centrally handle the solicitation efforts and coordinate the distribution of cats and resources through it’s own network and any sister networks.