Brigid’s Crossing: Local Cat Sanctuary Helps Heal the Circle of LifeJul 01, 2011 08:21AM ● By Lee Walker
Brigid’s Crossing Foundation is a no-cage, no-kill, holistic cat sanctuary located in Naples; a refuge of “last resort” that mostly takes in unadoptable cats from other animal welfare organizations. “Animals are considered unadoptable for a variety of reasons that can be as simple as not being a kitten,” says founder Heather Burch, who adds that unfortunately, most individuals are not enthusiastic about adopting an adolescent or adult cat.
Proud of Brigid’s contribution to the community and dedicated to continued learning as well as public education, Burch enjoys applying her knowledge and compassion to an active adoption program that finds homes for cats. “We’re a hands-on, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has had to spend many years working with behavior and health issues that others have found to be unmanageable or without cure,” advises Burch. “This has led us to an in-depth understanding of a pet’s emotional and physical issues.”
For individuals that feel a natural connection with animals, it is always shocking to hear a pet owner call to surrender their cat of 10 years. “Many rescue groups are unable to answer their phones, because they do not have the staffing, time or space to handle the amount of homelessness,” notes Burch, who adds that there is not enough space in the nation’s shelter groups and rescue organizations to house the number of animals in need. Consequently, three to four million cats and dogs are euthanized every year, according to statistics from the Humane Society of the United States.
In Burch’s opinion, the killing can be stopped with public support, spaying, neutering, adopting from local shelters and giving a home to a stray cat. “I also believe that there are more than enough homes in our community to house homeless animals,” says Burch.
Because Brigid’s does not usually accept animals from the general public, the foundation works at keeping pets with their owners. Resources, education, networking and hands-on experience enable Brigid’s to help individuals see the heart of pet issues and resolve challenges. The goal of the foundation’s outreach program, Friends for Life, is keeping people and animals together on a shared path.
Animals that do find a home at Brigid’s temporary location enjoy an indoor/outdoor environment on the property of a foster volunteer. A unique cat fencing system allows cats free access to climbing trees, digging in the dirt, lounging under bushes and plants or sleeping inside one of the houses and enjoying the luxuries of home. “We are looking for funding to purchase a permanent location,” Burch notes.
When the foundation cannot take an animal due to lack of space, they reach out to a network of organizations outside the area. Recently, when Brigid’s was full, one volunteer was able to place and deliver a blind and deaf cat, as well as two FIV-positive cats, to an out-of-state sanctuary. “It’s all about relationship, working together as one family, one voice, one heart and healing the circle of life,” advises Burch.
For more information or to volunteer, make a donation or adopt a sanctuary kitty, contact Brigid’s Crossing, 239-591-8425 or visit Brigid.com.
Solutions to Common Cat Problems
by Heather Burch
At Brigid’s Crossing Foundation, we suggest solutions to the four most common reasons why an individual surrenders their cat.
Urinating Outside the Litter Box
A visit to the veterinarian can identify potential health issues. If medical issues are ruled out, look around the home environment for changes that may be causing stress or anxiety. Has anything changed recently, such as furniture, family members or household routines?
Buy washable pants, which can be purchased locally at a pet store or online. The pants are similar to cloth diapers, with Velcro waist straps and disposable pads inside. They might be called Stud pants or Queen pants for dogs. Measure around the cat’s waist in order to purchase the right size.
Moving to a “No Pet” Property
There are plenty of pet-friendly places to live. Take time to locate them. Pet-friendly websites can help you find a place in your area, and Brigid’s provides information about them.
If you cannot find a place on your own, reach out to Realtors or local rescue groups that keep pet-friendly locations on file. Don’t give up. Seeking a short-term foster or boarding facility while searching for a suitable property is far better for you and your cat than surrendering the pet.
New Baby in the House
Education is key. Network with others who can share their real-life stories about their cats and children.
Remember you have another family member who was there for you when you wanted and needed them. Don’t they deserve a space in the new family, as well?
If an allergy is suspected, get an allergy test to medically determine its source. There are many cases where cats are abandoned, only to have the affected individual discover that the cat was not the cause of the allergy.
For help with other problems such as integration with other animals; behavioral, partner or financial issues; health conditions; pregnancy; loss and grief; or death of a family member or friend who has pets, call Brigid’s Foundation or attend a free program at Food & Thought 100% Organic Farm Market & Café at 6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month.
For more information, call Brigid’s Crossing Foundation at 239-591-8425 or visit Brigid.com.
Food & Thought 100% Organic Farm Market & Café is located at 2132 Tamiami Trail N., Naples 34102. Call 239-213-2222 or visit FoodAndThought.com.