Fixing the Future, Epilogue: Collateral Repair

22 Oct, 2019
Bark Avenue Foundation

Moby had been elusive that first night of TNR, but Jen refused to give up. She had first seen him in the beams of her headlights, standing next to his deceased sibling a month ago. That moment was forever branded onto her heart. It is what had set this entire chain of events into motion, the reason we were all here again, at dusk, to trap some more cats. She would stop at nothing to help this little one. If it meant capturing another dozen cats to be fixed along the way, then so be it; one good deed is a ripple on the surface, but can easily gain momentum into a tidal wave of benevolence.

All acts of kindness run the risk of causing collateral damage—or rather, collateral repair. You set out to help one loose dog and find a litter of puppies; you set an appointment for a spay and during a routine exam, find out the cat has cancer. Bark Avenue Foundation does not leave the collateral repair for someone else to contend with. No animal in need is ever left behind. 

And so, armed with fifteen free spay & neuter appointments provided by The Rescue Train’s Feral Fix LA program, the BAF team returned to the Bock Company to get more of the cat colony fixed while on their quest to find Moby.

Thirteen traps were set out back, and Jen personally placed two at a couple of businesses down the street where she had first seen Moby. And then the waiting began.

The yard was a bit quieter than the first time. There weren’t as many out and about. Unlike the first night when the sound of the first trap door shutting happened in less than fifteen minutes, the cats weren’t as eager. Perhaps it was because they had had food over the weekend, so the bait was less tempting; perhaps they’d all been warned by the others who had returned.

In two hours’ time, only six cats had been caught. The gang was patient, hanging out in the front parking lot, waiting to hear the sounds of traps closing. Jen believed with all her heart that this would be the night. And then it happened: Christy spotted Moby.

“There! Across the street!” she said in an excited whisper.

Jen looked over and there was the kitten, standing with his leg held close to his chest.  Jen got one of the traps she had placed a few doors down and brought it back to prep it. This was it: their one shot. 

Jen loaded up the trap with a can of sardines, Fancy Feast, a smorgasbord of culinary delight for a feline, and then, keeping her distance to not scare the kitten off, walked across the street and placed it in the bushes nearby. She retreated to the parking lot where her husband George, Christy, Carolyn, and Amanda all watched with bated breath. 

Moby looked over at her human audience from across the street. The gang all turned away, kicking stones with their shoes, averting their eyes. Moby approached the trap cautiously.

Jen looked up, and Moby caught her eye. Jen immediately turned away in a panic like someone caught staring at the object of their affection from across the bar. Moby was still suspicious. But it was tempting…

Just then, on that empty, quiet warehouse street where no one should have been at that hour, a person loudly opened a door, exited a building and sauntered up the sidewalk toward Moby, oblivious to the kitten, the humans, and anything else. Moby dove into a nearby bush, and every single person in the parking lot let out a sigh of disappointment. 

But Jen still had hope.

Ten minutes later, Moby emerged from hiding. He contemplated the trap, and then looked over at the humans who immediately turned away. 

Out of the corner of her eye, Jen saw Moby enter the trap. His tail was still visible, swishing ever so slightly. With only one working front leg, he was somehow missing the pressure plate that would close him in. Or maybe he wasn’t far enough in at all. 

The BAF troops stood, fingers crossed, some wishing and hoping, others trying a Jedi mind trick to get Moby to step onto the pressure plate.

Twenty minutes after Christy’s first sighting, Moby took the one fateful step in, and the trap slammed shut.

Jen ran across the street, excited but calm for the kitten’s sake. She assured him—or rather, she reassured her—she meant no harm. Now up close, Jen discovered her Moby was female: a beautiful white, grey, and orange tabby girl, her colors echoing those of her deceased sibling. Jen had found her Moby Dick at last.

Jen fared much better in her obsession than Captain Ahab did. With her motivation pure and driven by compassion, the unintended consequences of her quest were all positive. Eleven cats were trapped that night. Eight were spayed or neutered and returned. Two kittens were far too young to have surgery. Unable to catch their mother—or perhaps their mother was no longer among the living—BAF has committed to caring for them until they can be placed in their forever homes.

All because of one unrelenting woman’s mission to find and help this one kitten, over the course of two nights, four kittens were taken off the streets to live their lives under human guardianship, twenty-four cats were spayed or neutered and returned to their colony, no longer able to reproduce but free to live out their natural lives, and eleven cats were treated for infections that could have led to their demise. 

And of course, Moby got the care she needed too.

The morning after her capture, Moby went to a vet clinic for the first time in her life. After x-rays and a careful exam, the doctor concluded that it was an old injury and beyond repair. While Moby could live with the broken appendage, risk of further damage, injury, and infection were high. Amputation was the compassionate option. Being only three or four months old, she’d likely recover and adjust quickly.

With only $95 of the $450 raised to pay for Moby’s anticipated vet bill, Christy gave the greenlight for Moby to have her spay surgery and her leg amputated. The little girl couldn’t wait. We had hope that our supporters would come through–the same kind of hope Jen had in finding Moby to begin with.

Moby’s surgery was a success. After spending three days recuperating at the vet clinic, Moby was ready for the next leg of her journey. Jen picked her up from the vet clinic and met up with Christy. Together, they escorted her to her foster home: the next big step in this little girl’s future. 

Unfortunately, though, Moby wasn’t happy with the arrangement. Sometimes, it’s just not a match. The next morning, Christy returned to get Moby and began a desperate search for a new foster. Darlene Sano, one of BAF’s long-time supporters and kitten foster extraordinaire, answered the call, and said she would love to take in Moby–but she couldn’t take her until the next day. Moby suddenly needed a 24 hour layover. If you’re a cat in this situation, there’s no place better to find yourself than at Christy’s house. 

Christy set up a litter box, bed, towels, and toys in a large dog crate—a huge space for little Moby to relax and recuperate in the quiet of her home office. When Christy opened the travel crate, Moby hid in the back corner of the create, fearful. But with Christy’s comforting voice and gentle confidence, Moby allowed herself to be picked up and placed into her new cozy bed in the crate. There, Christy pet her ears, and Moby purred in response, leaning her head into Christy’s hand for deeper, longer pets. Watching Christy pet and snuggle Moby, you have to wonder if perhaps Moby isn’t feral at all. Maybe she was born of stray parents, or born nearby and then humans abandoned her and her family. 

We don’t know Moby’s past, but we can say in all certainty that she has a very bright future. Moby desires a loving human’s touch and wants nothing more than to reciprocate the affection. She’s not on any pain meds and is adapting quite well to her new circumstances. From the look in her eye, you can tell she’s right where she needs to be and happy to be there.

While Moby is enjoying all the human love, compassion, and interaction that Darlene provides as her foster mom, she is eagerly awaiting her forever home. Both Jen and Christy would have loved to have opened their homes to her for life, but it wasn’t meant to be. While Jen,Christy, and Darlene are a huge part of Moby’s journey, they are not her final destination. Moby’s person is still out there. 

Affectionate, sweet, and loving, Moby’s got a great life ahead of her. She’s going to mean the whole world to her person–and that person will mean the same to her.  You need only spend a few moments with her, and you’ll find your soul reaching out to her, begging her to choose you, to make you her forever person. There’s just something special about her.

Her face didn’t launch a thousand ships, but her presence on that traumatic, fateful night for her launched an organization into action, rallied a community together to help her and her neighboring felines, and gave dozens of cats a better, healthier future.

A three month old kitten did all that. Now imagine what you can do.

If you’d like to be formally introduced to Moby, now named Molly, to see if you’re her forever person, please contact Christy at christy@barkavenuefoundation.org. If you’d like to donate to Molly’s outstanding vet bill, please go to https://www.barkavenuefoundation.org/donate/.

And finally, if you’ve been inspired by how one  kitten can change the world and want to be part of stories like these, please check out our volunteer opportunities. If you’d like to help, but don’t see anything specific that excites you, shoot us an email. There is a multitude of ways you can share your gifts with Bark Avenue Foundation, and together we can #AltertheFuture, one act of kindness at a time.

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Stephanie Wescott is a freelance writer whose mission is to save animals’ lives through story. Although she hails from New England and resides in Southern California, you’ll mostly likely find her somewhere in between on the open road with her canine companion Tucker, searching for trails to hike and stories to tell. You can follow their tracks and read their tales at www.alltuckeredout.org.