OREGON – Sue Marue actually used to work with cougars in Oregon.
Now, however, she is in Parks, still dealing with cats – only smaller.
Just last year, Marue’s The Ark cat sanctuary placed a whopping total of 546 cats for adoption without having to euthanize a single feline. Fewer than 40 died while in her care.
So, what is their no-kill secret?
“We’re often the call of last resort, but we find a place for them and work with our partners to place them,” stated Pam Tharp, president of The Ark board of directors. Marue, the founder, is the executive director.
The Ark, a collection of buildings that includes a barn and pet “igloos” for up to 140 cats, is located almost 20 miles outside Parks on a dirt road, too remote for all but a few animal “surrenders” by families who can no longer care for a pet. So most of its animals come from the Coconino County Humane Association once their time there expires on adopting out a cat.
Marue and several volunteers give the cats any and all needed medical attention, feed and socialize them, then bring them in to PetSmart in Flagstaff for adoption.
Before that, however, all the adoptable cats are spayed or neutered, given shots and a microchip, and have medical problems attended to, often at low or no cost by participating veterinarians and animal clinics; Purina donates all adult cat food.
The adoption fee at PetSmart for an Ark cat is $110, which is a savings of about $300, Tharp estimated, if all of the services above were performed privately.
Tharp, who is also on the board of Paw Placement, explained that the euthanasia rate across the Flagstaff region is dropping as shelters and vets coordinate placement and services. Mandatory spay and neutering is greatly helping to keep the unwanted pet population in check, although The Ark just received a litter of nine kittens, all with ringworm.
“They are treatable, but it takes time,” Tharp said, adding that Marue and the volunteers will need to spend about four hours a day twice a week just treating the kittens.
However, Tharp defended a no-kill policy even for feral cats, contending that euthanasia will only create a temporary vacuum that other cats will fill. Instead, spaying and neutering will gradually reduce the population right alongside with an “Adopt for Life” philosophy that is slowly spreading.
“We need to put more social pressure on people who give up their pets,” Tharp stated, comparing the campaign to the one by Mothers Against Drunk Driving that made it unacceptable to drive drunk.
Tharp explained that as the board president, she fields calls for sponsors of “foster” cats that are socialized and awaiting a spot at PetSmart for adoption. For additional information about The Ark, call her at 928-773-1330.