A few days ago I called to check in with my neighbor, Kim. I met Kim in 2009 and she is known here in our neighborhood as the “Dog Lady.” Kim is the type of animal rescuer that will jump fences to save dogs from starving and freezing because of neglectful owners, and will take in an animal if you bring it to her door. We first met because my next door neighbor agreed to relinquish his sick dog to her since he could no longer afford to provide care. Kim and I talked about outdoor cats and trap-neuter-return, something that she had not tried before.
We didn’t always agree on how to go about rescuing the animals we encountered, and we’ve even argued, but last year I felt we finally gained a tentative mutual respect and understanding when we tackled the indoor Stealers Wheel Colony together. Kim found that house because she is always walking her dogs in this area, talking to the neighbors about their pets. Kim called every rescue group she knew to help get the 16+ cats out of that house. When I heard about it, I called her and said I would help, and her response was to laugh and say, “Well, sh*t, you’re the only one that called me back, Vanessa. I wasted my time because I could have just called you myself.”
When we went to try to get the cats at the Stealers Wheel house, Kim always brought food and litter for the cats, and brought groceries and medicine for the people there. She tried to clean and fix the house. The house is a wreck, and the people inside are most likely addicts, and I felt trying to help them was hopeless. It was certainly thankless – we just got yelled at a lot. And it was dangerous. I only wanted to try to help get the cats out of there. Kim, on the other hand, tried to fix everything, and I admire her for the effort, even if I didn’t agree with the method. Anyways, we did the best we could with that situation, but ultimately could not handle it on our own. One of the few things we managed to do is she fostered these two cats from there and got them adopted out together.
I called Kim a few weeks ago because I now may have another solution for the cats there, and wanted to see if she had been there lately. She called me back to let me know that she hasn’t been to the house since last winter. She also let me know that she was diagnosed with terminal cancer just recently, along with other ailments, and the doctors sent her home because there was nothing else they could do for her. It was hard for me to keep track and understand everything she was saying, but one thing I latched on to is that she said a man came with a dog to her house last week and she had to turn him away.
I’ve never seen Kim turn an animal in need away and put herself first. She just cannot handle more animals at this time, and is currently trying to re-home her two dogs and four cats.
Kim doesn’t want help from me because she said there is nothing that she needs or that anyone can do. I feel helpless because we’ve only interacted mostly during rescue situations, never socially, but will try to reach out to her again. Please send healing thoughts her way.