By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Wylie understands the frustration and boredom of quarantine.
“When Wylie came into our shelter, he had been attacked by either a fox or a coyote,” said Terra Butler, Super Heroes in Ripped Jeans director and founder. “Because we couldn’t find the animal that attacked him, we couldn’t get it tested for rabies. Most shelters would have put him down as a precaution, but we just couldn’t do that.”
The former stray, now healthy in Month Three of his six-month rabies isolation, is one of the many foster animals and behind-the-scene activities you can monitor by joining the rescue’s new Lifesaver program.
“It’s a chance for people to follow stories that they might not normally see,” she said. “It gives an idea of what we go through every day.”
With COVID-19 shutting down the rescue’s thrift store, Butler had to think of new ways to bring in income to support the animals. “If 100 people signed up, that would cover a significant portion of our expenses,” she said. “Closing the thrift store was a real financial hit.”
For $20 a month, visitors have access to exclusive videos and blog posts about the shelter’s residents, including Wylie, who is quarantined with Butler at her home.
“He’s just the sweetest cat,” said Butler. “He just wants to sit in your lap and kiss your nose.”
Many of the stories are joyful.
“We had someone bring in five dogs they couldn’t care for, and one of them was a pregnant mother,” she said. “On her fourth day with us, Pumpkin gave birth to five puppies. You can really see the difference as she’s coming out of her shell.”
Videos and photos of each newborn are on the Lifesavers site. “This family will all have happy endings,” she said.
But rescue life can be heartbreaking too.
“When we took in those five dogs, we went inside to finish the intake paperwork,” she said. “But when we came back out to get them, one of them had just died. We had no idea what happened; we’ve never had anything like that happen in the eight years we’ve been doing this.”
And there are challenges Butler wants members to understand. “Bottle-feeding kittens is cute,” she said. “Until you’re on Week Two of waking up every three hours to feed six screaming babies.”
She doesn’t shy away from the realities of rescue, including showing photos of Louie and Violet, two kittens who developed nasty eye infections – but, with quick care and nurturing, they recovered.
“Can you believe these are the same kittens?” Butler wrote under a photo of the pair snoozing on a blanket.
With many people stuck at home, they find they may want a furry companion. “Our adoptions are way up,” she said. “People who might not have had time to foster or adopt an animal now have that time.”
Adoptions are being done by appointment. “We’ve gotten through our whole cat waiting list,” she said. “That’s never happened before.”
And just as restrictions on our own social distancing ease up, Wylie will be ready for adoption.
“He’s going to make someone an awesome pet when he’s all through this.” she said.