Paws For The Cause Feral Cat Rescue - MI

Paws For The Cause
Pros: Seemed nice at first
Cons: Turned out to be a really terrible experience.
~~From the get go, my housemate's experience with Paws for the Cause Feral Cat Rescue was a little bizarre. She sent several messages through their Pet Finder site and by calling the number listed, and never got a response. When she showed up at Petsmart on Sunday for their normal adoption hours, they were there with the cat she was interested in adopting, Luna. She got a chance to play with Luna, who was a spunky, sweet little kitten. My housemate wanted to foster Luna for a while to make sure she was a good fit with her other kitten at home. A few other people had filled out applications to foster Luna, so my housemate asked how they would proceed. Laura, the founder of Paws for the Cause, gave the impression that she really liked my housemate, and she said they make the decision of who gets to take the cat, and they just needed to call the vet on Monday and they'd call my housemate that day. Come Monday, they called and said Luna was hers. After work one day that week, my housemate went up and got Luna to take her home. She got lost on the way there, and when she called, the director, Matt, picked up the phone and said hello. All of a sudden, Laura had the phone and asked "How'd you get this number?" in an aggressive tone. My housemate explained who she was, and she needed directions to meet them. It was really weird, which my housemate said to Matt when he got back on the phone. When my housemate got there, they joked about how it was a phone call after dark from an unknown number, so no hard feelings. But still, that interaction was pretty bizarre. Once Luna was home, at first, the two cats avoided each other as they got to know one another. But after three days, they were warming up to each other, and they started to play a little. Over the course of the next few weeks, they had begun snuggling for naps and cleaning each other. Luna's mom died during labor, they told my housemate, and Luna didn't seem to know how to groom herself. My housemate's other cat started to teach her. In addition to the two cats bonding, Luna was so social, she was quick to bond with humans. She would climb up onto my housemate's shoulder and sleep there while she worked at her computer. Luna always wanted to snuggle into someone's neck and fall asleep. She purred all the time. I cannot emphasize enough just how sweet she was. She would even greet me at the door to the basement, but she was trained not to go downstairs (too big a place for a little kitten), so she just sat there peering through the kitten door. Just so sweet. Now during this time, she was having a runny eye off and on. My housemate communicated with Matt that she said she wanted to take Luna to the vet to check her out. Matt said that my housemate needn't worry about paying for vet bills while she fostered Luna, and if she really needed an appointment, Paws had a vet Luna could see. He really made it seem like it was about the vet bill, which my housemate didn't have a problem paying. He advised that if the runny eye cleared up within a few days it was nothing to worry about. They arranged to meet that Wednesday to sign the adoption papers, but my housemate totally forgot about it because it was a busy week at work, and it slipped her mind. After that, Matt gave her a call to arrange another time. He seemed pretty understanding when she apologized and said she was just slammed at work that day and it slipped her mind. Matt said he'd be at Petsmart the whole day Sunday and my housemate could come by any time to arrange to adopt Luna. However, that weekend there was a blizzard, so making the drive that was 45 minutes on a clear day was a daunting prospect. In the afternoon on Sunday, he called again, and was angry immediately. He said she was giving him the runaround. She said she picked up immediately, which isn’t the runaround. She tried to explain that she was hesitating because she wasn't sure it was a good fit between the two cats, and she again mentioned she wanted to take Luna in since the goopy eye had come and gone and come and gone. At this point really frustrated, Matt went into this whole thing about how it was against the contract and he didn't know if my housemate's vet was some "quack job" (his words). My housemate's response was "What do you mean quack job? Didn't you call my vet before I got Luna?" He said that wasn't the point and it was against the contract and they couldn't just make exceptions. His blowout overreaction was so suspicious, it made my housemate question if maybe Luna did have some disease and he was trying to hide it. Upon reading the contract more closely it says at first that the cat cannot see a vet other than the Paws vet. But in the very next section it says the cat can see another vet with prior approval or in emergencies, and the foster covers the costs in these situations or must keep bills for reimbursement if it’s an emergency. But when my housemate asked for approval, which it seems like she could get, he was unreasonable. It was such a heated discussion that my housemate suggested they cool down and talk again in 15 minutes, which he agreed to. When she called back, she left a message because he didn't pick up. Several hours later, after 8pm, he finally called back to say he'd spoken with "the board," and they made the decision to take Luna back and he'd come get her that night. My housemate tried to explain that all of this came from a concern for Luna’s wellbeing, and she got really upset. At this point, I got on the phone, my housemate in tears, and tried to calm this guy down. He said that they didn't want to get involved in a situation where my housemate would find out Luna had some health problem months down the line and would want to give her back. He said that they make reasonable assurance that their cats aren't sick, but anything could happen in the future. I said that was reasonable, and I suggested they just finish the adoption now, forget all this concern about the goopy eye. My housemate could adopt Luna and take her in to her vet and deal with any problems come what may. He sounded really paranoid that my housemate would try to give Luna back a year after the adoption when she wasn’t a kitten, which would make her harder to place. I asked, "Isn't there an adoption contract that would prevent that?" He didn't seem to have any good responses to this or any of our questions. He told me that he'd already talked to the board, that there were only three members, and he only needed to convince two of them, and they'd already made their decision. When I asked if he could talk to them again, it was late on Sunday, and he said he could try to talk to them again, but he couldn't make any promises. (Note: we later discovered that he and his wife are the two of three board members he had to convince. The third has an out-of-state address, and we have been advised by a lawyer that non-profits sometimes have to have at least three board members, and it seemed like maybe the third member wouldn't have to be an active board member for them to govern the cat rescue themselves, Laura and Matt. It's so weird that Matt kept implying "the board" was someone other than him and his wife. A little creepy to be so dishonest.) He said he'd call my housemate that week after he talked to the board, but she never heard from him. That Sunday, she and I went to Petsmart (I went along for moral support) to see Matt and hopefully adopt Luna. At that time, he said he couldn't call that week because he had the flu. He then said that "the board" wanted Luna to see their vet to check out the eye. We told him it hadn’t happened in a week, but he said the board wanted to get her check out anyway. He said he'd be by that evening to pick her up. We left, and as we discussed it, we thought they shouldn't have to pick her up. We already felt with all the weirdness, overreaction/anger, not being able to answer questions in a reasonable way, and now the insistence on the vet appointment, that they’d just try to keep her. So my housemate would just take Luna to the appointment the next day, meet them there. Matt had said she had an appointment scheduled, so my housemate called to get the time and location. She had to leave a message and expected Matt to call her back. Later that evening, he sent a message saying he was on his way. My housemate and I weren't home, and she replied that she left him a message saying she'd be happy to meet him at the vet the next day. He replied that he didn't know if the appointment would be at 8am or 6pm, and my housemate said, "No problem. Let me know." The next message came 15-20 minutes later, and it said, "I'm here. Front door or side door?" She said again that she wasn't home, and he called, stating that there was a car in the driveway (he clearly thought my housemate was lying, which she was not). The next message he sent had a threatening tone "I suggest you or your roommate get here. The police came and knocked on the door." He had called the police, and my housemate had too because he was sounding pretty erratic, and she was worried he'd break in or vandalize the property or harass our other flat mate. Over the next four hours, they talked a couple more times. The conversations were heated. My housemate suggested she wanted to just adopt Luna and just drop this whole thing. Matt and Laura ended up waiting outside the house for four hours, even after they said they were leaving. My housemate was scared to go home, so she waited until midnight. And sure enough, the second she got in the driveway, they hopped out of their car parked out front and approached her in the driveway. She went in quickly and Matt banged on the door. I called the police from inside because I was terrified. (This whole situation had me in hysterics for three days. I was scared they were following me. Their behavior was just so weird, I couldn’t shake the fear that they were capable of violence. I mean, how crazy to lie about leaving and wait outside someone's house, after the police had already talked to him twice that night because my housemate called the police out twice because he was sounding so threatening and scary on the phone.) Before the police got there for the third time, Laura came into the driveway and said, "You know you're only making this harder on yourself" as if at this point there was still some hope of keeping Luna. When the police showed up, they tried to mediate. The police asked questions like could my housemate deal with another board member? Matt said, "Yeah, Laura." And my housemate interjected, "She's your wife." The police suggested could my housemate talk to someone who isn't him or his wife, and my housemate noted that Matt had said there were only three board members. At this time, Matt said there were other boards, like an appeals board, or something. (Note: we couldn't find any information about other boards, so perhaps this was another lie.) The police asked why my housemate didn't just give Luna back right then, and my housemate started to cry, explaining that she was afraid they'd take Luna and never give her back. Then the police asked why my housemate couldn't just adopt the cat, and Matt said because he needed to take Luna in to the vet. My housemate asked if she could just take Luna to the vet. The police also thought that seemed reasonable. My housemate asked again to just adopt Luna then. The police suggested my housemate just give them the adoption fee, but Matt wasn't having it. At some point, Matt said if my housemate didn't give Luna over that night he'd see her in court. In the end, he finally just left. The next day, my housemate contacted several lawyers to get their advice. She also called the vet that Paws works with. Matt had said the appointment was at 4:45, but the vet's office said it was at 7. With yet another inconsistency in Matt's stories, it was harder and harder to trust they were going to give Luna back after the appointment and not just run out the back door with Luna. My housemate was advised by one of the lawyers to keep the cat and try to negotiate, saying that if she gave Luna back she'd definitely never get her back. My housemate told Matt she was advised not to take Luna to the appointment without some assurance she could adopt Luna afterwards. Matt said that was bad advice and she'd "just ruined [her] last shot." After a few days, Laura and Matt communicated that if my housemate didn't give Luna back they would file with the court. At this point, my housemate tried to appeal to Laura, since Matt had been so irrational and dishonest, and Laura said she couldn't promise to let my housemate adopt Luna. She texted "You cannot rationally think that I am going to let you dictate how all this is going to go." And later "This is my rescue so I decide how I want to deal with things." (But what about "the board"?) She ended with "I would never make any agreement with a foster or adopter over the phone." This is weird since for weeks they were just waiting for my housemate's signature to finalize the adoption. Then all of a sudden one day the two of them decided to call it off, and despite all of these promises to reconsider and "discuss it with the board," they clearly were never going to reconsider. Wanting to avoid legal action, my housemate called and apologized for anything she did to escalate this situation. She arranged to have Matt pick up Luna that night. It was devastating. The bottom line is they seem to do some good work with the trap, neuter, release program they run. But I would not advise getting involved in a foster or adoption situation. They made it quite clear that they will make all the decisions, and they don’t really have any policies or procedures they feel inclined to follow. Plus it was pretty scary dealing with them. So if you’re not just going to adopt straight up, go somewhere else. They had no reason to believe my housemate couldn’t care for, didn’t already care for this little kitten. If they’d talked to her vet, they’d have heard she’s an excellent, caring pet-owner. They stalked the house for four hours, so they know we live in a nice neighborhood. My housemate has the means to care for Luna. These are the things an animal rescue should focus on. They shouldn’t seem so driven by their own egos and let their emotions lead them to carry on in such an unprofessional way. I wish there was a prayer or a hope we could get her back so she could greet me at the basement door again. Such a sad situation.