To say my emotions are running high this week is an understatement. I am angry that my business was blindsided by a careless Facebook post; I am appalled that there are people who think that euthanizing stray cats is even an option; I am hurt that people make accusations about us without knowing the facts; and I am humbled by my amazing clients that have my back.
Anyone who knows me or comes to my hospital knows how much I love helping animals and how hard I work to advocate for them. I have never chosen to euthanize healthy animals. The doctors I work with feel the same way, so our hospital policy is to offer alternatives for healthy, adoptable pets. Euthanasia is not something to be taken lightly. An owner’s choice to euthanize their beloved pet is difficult, and although I try to keep myself composed, I can be found crying right along with them.
I had never spoken to Jeff Fiegenschuh, the Rochelle city manager, until he came to the hospital to apologize to me on Friday. Until that conversation with him, no one from the city or the police department had discussed implementing a program to address the feral and stray cat situation with me or anyone from my hospital.
When I purchased the Rochelle Veterinary Hospital on Feb. 1, 2010, I learned of a prior agreement with the city to euthanize strays if they were not claimed within three days. When I bought the hospital and found out what the policy was, I contacted the city immediately and got permission from them to start a stray adoption program. This same program has been in effect since February of 2010.
When a stray is brought in we try to find its owner. This is why microchipping pets is so important. It allows us to contact the owner as soon as they are brought in. For the animals without a microchip or tag, after the mandated time, if we are unable to find an owner we put them up for adoption. If we can’t find them a forever home, we transfer them to one of the area non-kill shelters so they can find them a home. The exception to this is if they are severely injured, we will make the decision that they should be euthanized to prevent further suffering.
I am very proud of our stray adoption program. Over the years we have been able to find wonderful homes for many many animals. I would not have my own pets if it weren’t for strays being adopted. Both my dogs and two of my cats were brought in as strays. PepperJack, Annabelle, Booger and Buster are part of my family and I can’t imagine my life without them.
The only good thing that has come out of this mess is to see that the community cares for the cats as much as we do. I will be happy to work with the city to implement a program that helps address the feral/stray cat problem, but one that will benefit the cats as well.
I would again like to thank everyone who has supported me and the Rochelle Veterinary Hospital this week.
Dr. Nicole Marquardt
Rochelle Veterinary Hospital