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Interview with SCA Hotline

Gina Lynn Gina Lynn manages emails and inquiries to SCA's Hotline - here's an interview by Nancy Van Iderstine with typical days for SCA and the community service it provides.

NVI: What are the most frequent types of requests SCA receives via the hotline and email?

GL: The two most frequent requests are questions about how to deal with colonies of feral cats and appeals for medical help.

With the ferals, some people want them removed from their property, but fortunately, many want to do the right thing (TNR) to make sure the cats don't continue to procreate. These people just need our help getting started.

The medical requests are sometimes even more challenging, because here we’ve got nice people with pets or animals they care for who are suddenly in need, and they can’t afford to help them. Like humans, health care costs for animals are high, and some people find themselves unable to stop an animal’s suffering.


NVI: What other issues prompt people to contact SCA?

GL: We also get people who have issues with their landlords or bosses because they’re feeding ferals, and they often want to relocate them.

NVI: You mean the cats, right?

GL: LOL. Yes. We also get requests for fosters or new homes, or for the rescue of orphaned kittens. And people who want/need to give up their feline companions for one reason or another.

NVI: How would you describe the level of knowledge the average caller has about ferals or other cat concerns?

GL: Unfortunately, the average caller or emailer has very little knowledge about feral cats or other cat issues. It’s absolutely refreshing when we come across someone who does know! And, equally refreshing when someone is new, but willing to jump in and do the work. Those are the calls and emails that keep us going.

NVI: On average, how many calls come in a day?

GL: I would say we get about five calls and 20-30 emails a day.

NVI: Wow. Is it as difficult to handle the nature of these calls as it seems, given that there is likely a fair amount of bad news on the other end of the line?

GL: Its probably quite a bit more difficult than it would seem. We are smacked in the face daily with just how many cats out there are in need and how little people are willing to do to help. And also how many people consider community cats a nuisance.

NVI: Could you describe the ways in which SCA responds to the calls and why it's such an effective organization?

GL: We loan out traps for free through our six trap depots around the L.A. area and refer folks to low- or no-cost spay/neuter clinics. When we can, we help people in need with financial assistance for food or vet bills for homeless cats. And when we can't help, we do our best to direct them to someone who can.

We provide all the information, resources and guidance they need to mount tasks and see them through, and we encourage them to educate others.

We're stretched thin, and there are many dire situations with special and urgent needs. So our goal is to empower people to take the initiative, recruit others in their community to get involved, and collectively TNR and care for their local ferals.

In fact, many more cats are helped this way than if the handful of us already involved run ourselves into the ground trying to do everything ourselves.

NVI: Do you think people are more educated about the plight of L.A.'s homeless cat situation than they were a few years ago?

GL: I would sure like to think so, and truly, they MUST be, based on the number of inquiries we receive. The bigger question is are they taking action to help? We don't always hear back from people after providing them with resources, but it’s a glorious day when we do!

One of my favorite situations was a woman who had found two young feral cats and wanted to help, but didn't know what to do. We told her about TNR. She got those two trapped, fixed and released within a week, only to find out that they were part of a larger colony.

One month later she had trapped, neutered and returned 25 feral cats!

NVI: How inspiring! Is there anything you'd like to add about the volunteers' experiences, or something you'd most like the community to be aware of?

GL: I guess the biggest misconception is that there are magical, well-funded rescue groups with endless resources to run all over Southern California trapping, fixing, transporting and relocating feral cats. People seem to think that there are countless no-kill shelters and sanctuaries for feral cats, and there just aren't.

We've been solicited to relocate literally thousands of feral cats in the past year. That's not to mention the hundreds, if not thousands, of feral cats killed in local shelters during that time. We would love to have been able to rescue and move them all to sanctuaries. Sadly, that’s simply not reality. And given the numbers that our organization alone is aware of, a feral cat sanctuary would be full in weeks.

We are a very small, mostly volunteer organization, and we just can't do it all. Yet, with every call and email, we push harder and keep trying to do more. And we’ve accomplished a lot.

NVI: That’s for sure. And when people volunteer to help SCA, it’s rewarding both for the organization and for volunteers, isn’t it?

GL: Absolutely. So, on that note, the last thing I'd like people to be aware of is that we need more help – with or without a background in this type of work. We are very willing to train, and as you say, helping these animals is immensely rewarding for members of the community.

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