When a friend or family member calls and asks if you want to get up extra early on Saturday morning and walk around for three hours sticking fliers in people’s doors, the sensible person claims to be sick, but then, if they are like me, they get sucked into asking, “Fliers for what?” Even after I found out that Planned Pethood had been awarded a grant to spay and neuter cats FOR FREE in the 43605 zip code, and that these fliers were crucial to letting families know, I admit—I did check the weather. I mean, 40F and raining? I don’t think so! But lucky for me, and those kitties who need to get fixed, and their parents who need the free service, it was sixty and sunny a couple Saturdays ago, so off I went. Sue and I met up at 8:00 a.m. and drove to East Toledo near Navarre Park, to get the word out.
If any of you have canvassed or done other door-to-door style work you might know a few things. It’s a lot of exercise going up and down stoops. Check. No need for the treadmill or a step class later that day. It’s lovely to explore new parts of your city. Check. Navarre Park is a rolling few blocks of grass with a large shelter house and playground. That day the neighborhood was hosting a free party for residents. Three clowns stood around waiting for the kids and several people laid out free cookies and fired up a hot dog cart. One table was covered in craft supplies for the kids to make bracelets and key chains. The sense of community was a delightful reminder of the benefits of really living in a place—staying, that is, and not just passing through.
Sue and I passed through, up one street and then down another. I was a little nervous about going up to people’s stoops and sliding a flier in their door handle, or pinching it between the storm and jamb. Isn’t it rude to leave papers people may not want? But what I found is that people appreciated the fliers. They knew there were several stray cats around. Moreover, they knew which houses particular strays hung around, and which cats had recently had litters. One woman had trapped several cats herself and gotten them fixed. Another resident let us know about a neighbor who tried to take in and fix cats but was running out of resources and could sure use our free services. Another gentleman thanked us for helping the neighborhood and the cats. Along the way I had a chance to see the newish Raymer Elementary School. A handsome building! Plus, Sue and I had a good time guessing what some of the other older buildings began life as. One was clearly a Catholic parish school, another looked to be an old market that had been converted to private housing. I thought of my grandmother’s old Lagrinka neighborhood, and the Polish markets she went to as a kid that looked a lot like that building.
I admit that we were a little foot-sore by the end. And that we may have taken a little break and driven over to the convenience store on the corner for Diet Coke and a snack. But in the end I sure was glad that I wasn’t “sick” that day and that I’d gone out to help both the cats and their families. It was obvious that even the cats without homes had people looking out for them, but that these folks needed help. If you’ve ever read about how fast a mom cat can become a clowder—that’s a big group of cats, like a school of fish or a herd of buffalo—then you know that one or two or three people can’t control the stray cat population in a neighborhood.
It’s a big job, and we’ve all got to pitch in.
About the Grant:
Planned Pethood received a grant from PetSmart Charities for $94K to use in 2013 and 2014 to help control the cat population in our area. They are offering FREE neutering/spaying to the 43605 zip code. This is for owned cats only. Planned Pethood also conducts a trap/neuter/release program for feral cats who are not adoptable or for free-roaming cats.