I just need to vent for a minute. We have family friends who are flat broke. Single mom on disability with 3 girl. My parents have taken to paying for the girls' extra circular fees because the money just isn't there and they want these girls to have some experiences outside of facebook and TV.
The have a zoo of pets: a large dog (lab) a hamster and two cats they rescued from a barn about a year ago. Well around Halloween one of the cats had 3 kittens. Two of which they decided too keep. Bringing the total of cats up to 4. I just saw on facebook that another cat just had kittens! 6 of them to be exact! Why they didn't do something after the 1 cat got pregnant I don't know.
I'm just angry. She is letting my parents pay for her children while she spends all her money on this freaking zoo! Even if they decide to give the new kittens up for adoption that's still 8 week or so that they have to be cared for.
If you are so broke, that you need to have your friends step in and help out, you should not have a large dog, a hamster and what is now 10 cats!!!!!! It is stupid, it is irresponsible and sets a bad example for your kids. I'm just so frustrated and baffled how someone could think that this was a good idea?
I just can't believe that the mom thinks this a good thing! Someone please tell me that I'm not wrong in thinking that this is selfish and immature on the part of the mother....
03-24-2010, 12:20 AM
I totally agree with you! I can't understand how people operate and where they can feel ok about putting anything above their children's needs! I know people who struggle to make ends meet but they always have enough money for cigarettes (the expensive ones mind you) and other unnecessary things!!
I would suggest that your parents "close the bank" but if they are willing to help, I don't think the children should have to suffer because of the mothers ignorance! It's sad really!!
Have they tried talking to her?
03-24-2010, 01:12 AM
If you're extremely lucky, and especially if you don't care for them properly, even 10 animals can be extremely cheap to keep. Five pound bags of (poor quality) dog food and cat food can be bought at the dollar store (and doesn't even have to be bought at all, if you're not worried about feeding them properly and are willing to dumpster dive or find alternative food sources for the critters). Dogs and cats that are allowed access to freedom (which they'd have to be, in order to get "surprisingly" pregnant) can catch or scavenge much of their own food. A hamster can be fed for less than $10 a year (a lot less if you buy feed in a bulk quantity or if you feed it veggie scraps that people generally don't eat).
Spaying "seems" expensive, because $100 has to be plopped down all at once. I suspect they're spending a lot less on the animals than you'd think. It's neglectful and irresponsible, but not necessarily expensive.
I've lived through some extremely tight times with pets (though never with children) with as many as three animals and I could feed and care for the animals nearly for free (until they needed a vet. I was lucky never to have to give up a pet because of tight finances).
As a probation officer, and substance abuse counselor I also worked with a lot of homeless and destitute people and saw many that were able to feed their pets with no income at all, as long as the pet was reasonably healthy and they had a place to keep them. It was only when an animal needed a vet, or had no place to stay that they were forced to give up the animal.
03-24-2010, 03:40 AM
I'm not sure, to be honest. I think that is a bit much in general, but maybe there is more to it than it seems. Like Kaplods suggested, it might not be as expensive as it seems. I suspect that the reason they may not have had this cat fixed is because of the cost to do so. If they don't have money, putting down a large sum like that IS quite expensive.
I understand your frustration, I would be too probably, but at the same time I'm glad the kids have some animals around because growing up with pets makes childhood a warmer experience. I personally wouldn't want THAT many animals around and am not suggesting they should keep all of them, but I'm sure it helps them to have pets around they can have fun with and feel loved by/love.
03-24-2010, 06:21 AM
I know the feeling - it is so painful to sit by and watch. One of my friends has a six-year old son who is regularly neglected and shuffled around so she can date new (and dangerous) men. He is somewhat delayed, not because he can't learn, but because she won't spend time with him. They also have a zoo of animals, all of which are neglected (and she keeps trying to pawn off on me!) On top of this she is over 300 pounds.
She lives in filth and fleas and all sorts of bugs. She used to be my best drinking buddy, and now I know why - because she is an enabler and shows her love the only way she knows how - which is to make me feel good about myself no matter what my choices are.
I shouldn't have a mojito, too much sugar - "What? You look great! You've lost weight, you can afford it!" I'm drunk and hungry - "Taco bell was MADE for drunks! Don't worry about it!" I think she expects that in return. I love her regardless and my heart breaks for her kid and animals. But she's impossible to talk to about it. It hurts when you see someone who needs help but can't do anything. You and your parents are being a tremendous help just by being something stable in both of their lives. If I've learned anything, it's that a bargain bin DVD and a long coloring session with a kid, or a treat and petting an animal, does wonders for them -- even if you can't rescue them and give them what they need. :( Best of luck to you and them.
03-24-2010, 10:55 AM
The cats don't roam free, she has both unspayed males and females as pets. They're entirely house cats. I guess what bothers me the most, 2 weeks ago she begged my mom to cover her kids school fees, on to of the extra circular activities. I just paid for the youngest one to go on a field trip, which meant I didn't get to sign up for the fitness class I wanted. Somehow though she has the money for 2 packs of cigarettes a day and the ability to feed a multitude of pets. Looking at the comments she recieved on facebook, "Oh you must be so excited, kittens are soooo cute, can't wait to come by and meet the little critters!" it bugs me, in my mind these additional pets are not a good thing, because it means that someone: me, my parents, her brother, will be picking up the slack to make sure her kids don't suffer.
I would never begrudge anyone the right to have a pet, because I do think that they are a wonderful childhood experience. However, when caring for your pets means that you have to beg friends for the money to pay for basic expenses (such as school fees) for your kids something isn't right. They live in a 1,000 square foot bungalow, that is destroyed due to lack of proper pet training and care, it's riddled with mold and things are broken all over the place. Why on earth would you add the expense of additional pets? Even if they only cost a marginal bit more a month, say $15, over the course of the year, that's one kids school fees. Which my parents just paid.
She is living on a tight budget, but with some common sense and some impulse control, she wouldn't be hitting up every person she knows for help. I know she's in a tough situation with her health, and money but common sense would say she would quit smoking - not just because they think she may have lung cancer - but because doing so would put an additional $700 a month in her pocket. Plus only having one or two pets, instead of 12, would cut costs down as well.
As you can see it's more than the pets that have set me off. I just saw that post on facebook last night and it set me off. They're are alot of thing that need to change, the pets issue is really only the tip of the iceberg. I just don't think she gets how her choices are affecting those around her. And when it comes down to it, that's what I think bugs me the most.
03-24-2010, 11:03 AM
I totally understand your frustration. Not spaying and neutering is a very irresponsible thing to do, and it's not fair to the animals. 10 cats is FAR too many.
However, if they still just had the dog, hamster and a couple of cats, I think the emotional benefits of animals outweigh the cost of the food for them. Healthy animals hardly need any veterinary care except the occasional checkup, flea and heartworm, and smart shopping could make food very cheap.
I have to admit that getting rid of my dog is something I would NEVER do, no matter how hard things got. Of course it's awkward and rude to take handouts from friends, and I think something should be done about the way their household is run, but I don't think giving up the original pets is necessary.
That said, those kittens should be found homes for. That's entirely too many.
03-24-2010, 11:12 AM
Well, I am in a similar bind. I lost my house, car, job and everything to the financial situation and have been unemployed for 2 years. I work when I get a temp job but right now I am in an education program to get job skills for a new field which may pay fairly well. So I am dirt poor, "flat broke" as you say.
I have 2 cats and 2 dogs from the time when I had an income and a house.
I absolutely REFUSE to give these animals up, and I have been taking care of them -- although they are not tremendously happy about being shut up where they are.
My economic challenges today are not the same ones that I will be having a few years from now. I think I will be making 30K or so, and will be able to live in a nice lower middle class situation, better if I share a house.
I think your friends are irresponsible in not getting the cats neutered. My dogs and cats don't really cost a lot of money. I go to the food shelter and get food for myself (I'm not proud) and share some with the dogs, and cat food is cheap. "Big Lots" has good bargains.
There are now some organizations sprouting up that will help needy people with some pet food costs. Millions of people have been displaced, and these organizations are trying to keep pets with their original owners.
I don't think that people who have not lost anything realize that this period has been like a massive tsunami, or a war, and that there are millions of people in a virtual Refugee camp, living in friend's basements, and spare rooms without jobs, and since the US welfare system was so gutted by the last majority party, most without food an basics.
I spent my first year of this disaster in a house without heat in the winter. I simply could not pay the bills and they shut the gas off. Legally, they could not do it, but they found a loophole. No one cared but the dogs. They kept me warm at night. I owe them.
03-24-2010, 12:46 PM
Giselly, I respect you. I'm a firm believer in you made a choice to take in your pets their your responsibility, barring an huge life circumstance that make it impossible to care for them. For example, my uncle had a massive stroke 5 years ago, paralyzed on one side. He had to give up his dog, because he was unable to care for himself let alone a pet. That I understand. I admire your dedication to your pets.
Paradise, my friend, originally had a dog and cat. Money was tight then too, my parents and I chipped in a bit then but not much. She has acquired the remaining pets since she went on disability. I wish she would return to the original dog and a cat or two. I do feel that pets are beneficial for kids - though I do wish these pets were better cared for. They're fed, but not walked, or brushed, some cuddles for the pets, but it is not an ideal home at all. All three girls, suffer from asthma and other bronchial infections. Their doctor has stated that by giving up some of the pets their health would increase drastically. What does she do? A week after hearing that decides the kittens (1st litter) are just too cute to give up so she keeps them. The kids' friends don't like to come over, because the house smells and is filthy. To hear a 7 year old girl say "Suzy, won't come to my house to play because it's too stinky and dirty." is not right.
The mom is unable to care for all those pets, she can barely get off the couch because she so tired all the time. She complains about what state the house is in and how the kids don't help. It's just so heartbreaking and frustrating at the same time. She says that she's going to give these kittens up, but that's what she said about the last litter too. But, they're still there and in 6 months, when there's another litter, what's going to happen?
I understand that pets aren't that expensive and can be cared for a reasonable amount. However, she has the money for 2 packs a day (which is about $26 a day here), but not enough money to spay the cats? Which would have avoided this whole, issue. She's not a fool, what did she expect when she brought home a male and a female who were both unspayed? I told her what would happen from the moment she did that, that's not rocket science.... Yet, she ignored everything I and several other people had to say, and now 8 kittens later.....
I stand by and watch her make one bad decision after another, and everyone is expected to help out, because things are so tough for her. She asks for my advice or for my mom's and then completely disregards it, and then is back asking for help. I will bend over backwards to help those girls, I love them like they were my sisters, and don't want them to suffer form their mom's foolishness. I just wish there was some way I could convince her that what's she's doing is not in her kids' best interest. My parents are generous to a fault, my dad is even talking about paying for braces for the middle child, b/c there's no other way she'll be able to have them. They'd never cut off support for those girls and neither will I. It's just I don't even know anymore....something needs to change, but she isn't willing to it and the one's that are suffering are those girls and the pets. It's just not right.
03-24-2010, 01:32 PM
I really feel for all of you. I didn't know the depth of the situation earlier. All I keep thinking is those poor kids. It must be incredibly difficult for you and your parents to stand by and be unable to do as much as you'd like to, although it sounds to me like your family is a wonderful blessing to those girls.
I only hope one day soon something will switch in the mother, like a switch going off, and she'll suddenly SEE things for what they are, clear as a summer's day. It doesn't happen often, I know, but every now and then people do turn their lives around and I very much hope that happens in this situation. These kids need a health, hygienic, and clean home to live in among other things - would at any point this warrant getting children's aid society involved?
03-24-2010, 01:36 PM
Yea, that does sound like some terrible decision-making. I'd love to have more animals, but I can't afford it, so I don't adopt them. For her, her kids should come first, and she definitely shouldn't have let that animal situation get out of control.
As for the smoking, how outrageous!!! My dad smokes the cheapest cigarettes they make and spends about $5 a day on them, but he always feels terrible and keeps trying to quit to save money for me. Though I don't smoke, I'd love to waste my money on smoothies every day, but I can't afford that either. Her spending nearly $800 a month on cigarettes is not only a death wish and fiscally irresponsible but INSANE!!! In 4 years of not smoking she could save enough to send one of her kids to college. How sad.
03-24-2010, 01:44 PM
Paradise, cigarettes are expensive here, I don't smoke but I think the cheapest pack is about $7/8, goes up to about $12/13 a pack. Crazy huh? Made even crazier, by the fact that doctors are currently testing her for lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses. It bugs me to no end, when the oldest daughter who is 16, will ask for $5 for starbucks when she goes to the library to study, and mom says "We don't have the money for that." Yet, I know d@mn well, she bought cigarettes that day. Like I said one bad choice after another......
Beautifulone, all the pets wouldn't bother me so much if they were well cared for. I just don't appreciate the stuffed animal mentally of pets. Cuddle them when you want and feed them but not much more than that. If those pets were properly cared for, I wouldn't be so upset. I still think that 10 cats and a large dog and a hamster is too much unless you live on a farm, but would have less of an issue it they were treated better.
Thanks for letting me vent. Just cross your fingers that she will give this new litter up for adoption.
03-24-2010, 03:24 PM
I know you are venting but...
If someone begs for money and you give it to them, then you are enabling them to keep doing what they are doing. I know it may hard to say no but what is the reason for them to change?
I also agree that all pets should be spayed/neutered, there are just too many in the world even if you give them away, millions die every year because there are too many.
03-24-2010, 03:36 PM
You are venting. I understand. It's not "just" about the animals, it's just another thing on the long list of many things. I get it! It would irritate me too. Plus it's not you who is giving them money, it's your parents right? Not much you can do about that unless they see it too.
There are a lot of people out there that TAKE TAKE TAKE. She sounds like one of those takers. If she wasn't taking from your parents she would probably take from someone else. That's my experience with these kind of people.
03-24-2010, 04:23 PM
There's a lot going on, and the animals are the very, very least of it. The expense of the animal care (or lack of) really is a microscopic problem compared to the rest (I realize it was just the proverbial last straw). Having 10 animals wouldn't be a health hazzard if the family were able to clean up after them, but as it stands the house is becoming deadlier every day. The cigartte smoke, the mold, and the animal waste are each deadly in their own right, the combination of all three is a recipe for disaster.
As you describe it, the house is not a safe place for the humans or the animals to live. A home that's filled with animal urine and mold is a deathtrap especially for the children (the asthma is proof of that. It's likely the children would have no asthma symptoms or at least very much improved asthma in a clean environment).
I know this sounds tough (and it's sort of meant to be), but you and your parents aren't helping this family, you're contributing to the problem by making it possible for your friend to avoid or postpone the consequences of her choices. And if you're always there, it will be postponed, indefinitely.
She knows she should change, but she's procrastinationg because your help is allowing her to. I think it also allows her to think "my choices can't be that bad, or no one would be willing to help us. They're sympathising with me, so I can't be screwing up too badly." Yes, it's a crazy way to think, but you've got to be that kind of crazy to live like that.
I understand wanting to help the children, but any help that allows them to continue to live in their current situation is harming them, not helping.
I beg you to make some phone calls (anonymously if you wish). Ideally, both you and your parents would make seperate calls to all of the organizations I list. Even though it may seem redundant, it really is necessary to make all of the calls, because the more calls and more organizations you involve, the less chance that the ball will be dropped. You want as much attention on this problem as you can get, because the help is so vitally needed. It's not safe and every day those kids are in that home, the more damage is bening done to their lungs and immune systems.
The first to child protective services, describing the unsafe living situation and the neglect to the children. I know this is a hard call to make, but it's the most necessary. Social workers will be immediately assigned, the children will be removed from the home temporarily if they're in immediate danger (which is a likely possibility if the house is in as bad shape as I suspect it is). The goal is always to keep families together, so it's very likely that the social worker will also arrange for the house to be professionally cleaned so that it's safe for the children to live in (whether or not they're temporarily removed). They will likely see to it that most of the pets are removed (the kittens and any unneutered animals almost definitely). They may also mandate that your friend go through parenting classes and counseling that will teach her how dangerous her choices have been.
Make the second call to the Social Security office (ask to speak with this woman's caseworker. Even if she doesn't know who that is, she'll have one (I'm on disability also, and while I know everyone has been assigned one, I don't remember the name of mine or if I ever knew it).
The caseworker can't talk to you (confidentiallity laws), but you can talk to her or him. Explain how dangerous the situation is (go into the gory details about how filthy the house is, the ages and health problems of the children and how many animals there are and the uncontrolled breeding that is going on). The caseworker will be able to get some help for this family that improves the underlying and most severe problems.
Make the third call to the humane society or SPCA (and if you have both locally, make it four calls and report the situation to both). They will likely remove the kittens and un-neurtered animals, and give her a specific time frame to clean up the house or the remaining pets will also be removed.
If there are any other organizations in your area that can help call them too. Start with the United Way, as generally they'll be able to tell you if there is help available and which organizations to contact.
This is an emergency situation, it really is. Mold and animal urine are extremely damaging to lungs, especially developing youngs. Fleas and cockroaches can carry terrible diseases (and cockroach wastes are also extremely damaging to lungs. Asthma deaths are much more likely in homes infested with cockroaches).
Good luck, and God Bless.
03-24-2010, 04:42 PM
CGH, you're right it's not just about the pets. There are many many thing that aren't right, the new batch of kittens was just the final thing.
Even if she didn't smoke and had the extra money my parents would still help out. She in a nasty situtation tax wise due to her ex husband and would be paying that, plus the house needs work and so on. As well, she not big in exta curricular activities. My parents feel that the girls need to get out of the house and be involved in something so they make that a priority for the girls. They feel that it's important to get the girls out and experience some sort of normalicy. For that I admire them.
I really do like this woman, she's definitely in a tough spot. Dome of it's her own making & some of it is a raw deal. It's the poor decisions. Yes it's fine to have a pet, it's not a good idea to have a zoo. It's not the best idea to smoke, but I don't mind if you do, but it's really a bad idea when you may have lung cancer. I don't mind helping, because I do believe that the kids are truely benefiting from it and it's good for them. It's just the non stop poor decisions that are getting under my skin.
03-24-2010, 05:04 PM
Kaplods, social services is already involved, as is the girls school and the mental health resource team and a counselor and a couple of other agencies. Everyone who should be notified, save for the SPCA, is involved. So that's a comfort. The girls are in counseling both at school and via the city, and there is a case worker in involved. I've been interviewed and been over when one of the case workers has been over as well. She has a disability case worker and then there are caseworkers for the kids, and a mental health caseworker as well. Something is being done; which is one of the reasons my family is still involved. It's not enough, but we don't want to back away as we all want those kids to know that they have people who won't give up on them. Obviously its not an ideal situation, and she's not helping it that's for sure! However, if social services deemed it best for the girls to be removed my family would be there to take them in a heart beat. None of the agencies have deemed that a necessary step as of yet. I do hope that it never gets to that, but I am listed as the girls' legal guardian should anything happen. We keep on her, and do our best but she has to see the issue for what it is. I don't think she's fully come to the realization that things are as bad as they are. Maybe we're not helping in that regards, but I just hate to see those kids suffer, because that would just kill me.
The house does smell, and is dirty but it's not a complete bio hazard zone. Thank-fully, there are no fleas or roaches. It's mostly just the smell of having that many animals in such a small space combined with the smoking, then the fabreeze and air fresheners. It's dirty in that the dishes never get moved from the dishwasher to the cupboards and too much furniture. Plus the kids are kids and nothing gets put away. Toys everywhere, books everywhere things have migrated to the floor that kind of thing. Recycling is piled up and the dog food is kept out in plain sight etc. Because of this the house hasn't had a good scrub in ages. It reminds me of a frat house; messy, hasn't been vacuumed recently things aren't put away, dishes in the sink etc. Food isn't sitting rotting on the counter, but things are definitely out if control. But not squalor. Her health problems don't help, but that shouldn't be an excuse. It's tough but there are people involved who will hopefully help to move this ship in the right direction.
03-24-2010, 08:58 PM
What are the laws in your area? In my city a person is not allowed to have more than 5 cats in their household. I know you probably don't want to go any legal route, but honestly that many animals in what are probably poor conditions mixed in with kids probably isn't a healthy environment. Your parents are great people to be helping out for the kids. Have you talked to them about how this is affecting you? I know it's probably hard for them, especially since they're family friends and the kids would initially suffer, but sometimes ya just gotta put your big girl panties on and deal with life. Sounds like this lady needs a reality check.
03-24-2010, 09:32 PM
kathrynk, first I love your avatar, I was a huge my little pony fan back in the day. Had about 100 of them!
The problem with going the legal route, is that my dad also happens to be her lawyer, so that would complicate things for sure. I'm parents know, how this whole thing bugs me and my thoughts about what's its doing to the kids. We talk about it on a regular basis. We're all frustrated and all agree that she's making bad decisions. It almost feels like we're dealing with a teenager, lol.
The kids are signed up for soccer for the summer and my mom just paid the school fees, which supposedly she'll be paid back for, but I think I'll talk to my parents about holding off on anything else for a while. Just to see if she gets better. It's hard to determine the line between helping and enabling, you know? I know we should stop, but at the same time, those poor girls. Life suck sometimes!
03-24-2010, 09:38 PM
its hard especially when its your parents there are two kinds of people in this world the ones that actually help and the ones that feed off the hard working and kind people
03-24-2010, 09:48 PM
Yeah that's tough. It seems like all the proper things are being done so far. I guess all you can do at this point is keep those girls in your thoughts and be there for them, because none of this is their fault. I'll be keeping mom in my thoughts and hoping that she does the right thing by both her kids and your family and straightens up her life. Take this as an opportunity to be thankful for the wonderful, loving parents you have :)
03-27-2010, 06:13 PM
this is extra info really, lots of areas have spay/neuter vouchers so low income people can have their pets fixed at low cost (I think it's something like $30, probably varies).
Also, many times the ASPCA will not take animals away unless the owners request it and/or the situation is ABSOLUTELY dire. The funds to care for the animals isn't there, and there's a good likelihood the pets taken would be put down. At least this is what I've seen and read about in the NYC area. They might take kittens (easy to get adopted), but if these people only have a handful of pets and are feeding them in general and want to keep them...
it sounds like a heartbreaking situation to be involved in, you're really doing a wonderful thing for those kids, as frustrating as it sounds like it gets sometimes.
03-27-2010, 06:57 PM
SHANTROY I am sorry for the situation your family has been placed in.
You have received a lot of great advice and all I can add to it is that my brother and his wife were "similar in story"....
as I look back now, many years later and having raised his son after he passed away, I can see that there was some type of mental illness there...
He could go to work and do an outstanding job in our drywall trade...most of the time...but the other times he couldn't get out of bed....he and his wife/kids lived in a squalor...
yet he was not raised this way and I and my other brother and sister are not even close to that...
He could put in a solid days work...OR...sit on his butt for months....
he knew it wasn't right but...ah...the excuses and the "I'm going to...'s"
All I can say Kiddo is do whatever it is that you can live with and when you look back years from now at the situation you can be proud of yourself...