Dear ARL friends and followers,

Over the past few days, you may have heard of an incident in which a cat in Spring Township caught his foot in a fox trap. This story is expected to appear in the Reading Eagle on Sunday and presents a one-sided account of the incident since our Board of Directors was in the midst of an internal investigation at the time the reporter reached out to us for a comment. We want you to know that we’ve taken this situation very seriously, and it was of utmost importance to us that we provide an accurate account of the situation not only to the Reading Eagle, but also to you. We also want you to know that we are an organization deeply committed to honesty, integrity and transparency, and we are continuously reviewing our policies and procedures to ensure we are doing the best job we can with the finances, space, staff and resources we have available to us. While those resources do allow us to help thousands of injured, sick and stray animals a year, it is a sad and unfortunate reality that we are just a single organization, bound by very real limitations, and we make dozens of decisions a day on how we can best help the greatest number of people and animals in our community. However, since there are tens of thousands of animals in our community that all need support or care, it is an unfortunate reality that we cannot help every single animal the way in which you—and we—would always like us to. It is also an unfortunate reality that these isolated cases are often highlighted by a small group of people who disagree with our decision making and refuse to accept our resource constraints.

We believe it’s important to share with you our account of this situation and our intentions behind our decision, which is as follows: Last Friday, we received a call about a cat who was running with a fox trap caught on his foot. The cat was not contained or captured, and, despite having a trap on his foot, was able to run. Our counselor listened to the information the caller provided, consulted with her manager, and felt the best first step to catching the cat to get it the treatment he needed was to provide the caller with a humane trap. At the end of the call, it was our understanding the caller would consult with his neighbor on whose property he had last seen the cat, and contact us for further assistance if needed. We did not receive a call back.

The following day (Saturday), we were alerted via social media that another rescue got involved when the caller contacted them. When this rescue went out to the scene, they were able to locate the cat under a concrete front porch where he had finally been able to free himself of the fox trap, but lost two toes in the process. It is our understanding that other rescue then set a trap in front of the porch and he was thankfully captured on Monday. We were very relieved to hear the cat was captured and is now being treated and cared for by the rescue organization.

Because we respond to dozens of calls a day that require our on-scene assistance, we have very real limitations in “catching” or tracking down animals who are mobile and able to run. Therefore, we assess each call that comes in to figure out how we may best be able to help in that particular moment. In this situation, because our two officers who were working that day were out in the field on another call, and because the cat was able to run and was not contained in any specific location, we believe our counselor made the best decision she could have with the information she was provided.

Please know that we’re evaluating this situation carefully to see how we can improve and expand our services where possible. It’s not only important to you, but it’s even more important to us. But we also think it’s important to point out that we service a very wide county populated with thousands of free-roaming animals—the federal government estimates that there are somewhere between 32,000 to 60,000 free roaming cats in Berks County alone. At this time, we have only three animal control officers who work in the field to respond on scene. These officers, like the rest of our staff, care deeply about the welfare of animals in our community, often putting themselves in risky situations to rescue dangerous and injured animals with unknown behaviors. While we wish we could help every single animal every single time, unfortunately, we cannot. This work has always required a village of people to help, and other shelters and rescues to assist us in shouldering the burden of caring for the thousands of animals who need help within our community. It’s only in this spirit of collaboration and understanding rather than divisiveness and disagreement that we can work together to do more.

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