INDIANA – When a delivery driver left the Michiana Humane Society
at just about 10:15 Friday morning, he was greeted by a group of large cardboard boxes that weren’t there when he’d arrived just a few minutes earlier.
Someone had anonymously dropped off four adult cats in the boxes, leaving a note that described their difficult situation.
The note read: “The cats are loved “very much but we can no longer care for them. They have fleas that we couldn’t get rid of. They also have worms. It became too overwhelming.”
The Michigan City animal shelter was almost full when the cats arrived, explained Johanna Humbert, who is executive director. However, employees did some brainstorming to find enough room for them in the cat-isolation area, where they’ll be treated for fleas and worms before eventually being put up for adoption.
“It makes me sad,” Humbert stated. “These cats are not in rough or ragged shape, and I believe they loved them. But for whatever reason, they’re no longer able to care for them.”
Saturday happens to be National Cat Day, which was designated to raise awareness about cats that need to be rescued.
Humbert went on to say that such anonymous cat drop-offs are common at the shelter, which now houses more than 100 cats. While the shelter strongly encourages people to drop off unwanted pets, they should do so the proper way by calling in advance to make sure there’s enough space, she said.
“It’s easy for people to leave cats outside of our building and not own up to the fact they’re surrendering them,” she stated, adding that abandoned cats often have fleas and worms. “It happens if you’re keeping cats outside and can’t afford vet care, and it’s one of the main reasons people bring cats here.”
Todd Howard, who is interim shelter manager of South Bend Animal Care and Control, stated that anonymous cat drop-offs are also common at the city’s animal shelter. He noted that people can actually be charged for doing so with a misdemeanor for neglect or abandonment of an animal.
“A cat is dropped off at least once a month in either a carrier or box,” Howard stated. “Stray cats also tend to turn up behind our shelter too, and we’re pretty sure people are chucking them over the fence.”
Genny Carlson, who is executive director of the Humane Society of St. Joseph County in Mishawaka, stated that people help facilitate the adoption process by surrendering unwanted cats properly and paying an owner’s fee of $50 to cover a vaccination and other care. Those people are also asked to fill out an official form with details about the cat that are helpful for “getting it placed in the best possible home,” she said.
In Michigan City, Humbert stated that an hour after the four cats were dropped off, a woman showed up with two stray cats and had to be referred elsewhere because of inadequate space.
Cats typically spend a total of two months in the shelter before they’re adopted, Humbert stated, and 250 cats were adopted this year through September.
As for the four abandoned cats — Mittens, Tobey, Runt and Sylvester — Humbert is hopeful they’ll all soon be flea-free and ready for adoption.
“Hopefully they’ll make it into a home before the holidays,” she stated.