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Legal... Situation with Foster Kittens. Please help.

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  • Legal... Situation with Foster Kittens. Please help.

    So 5 weeks ago, I began fostering a mama cat and 5 kittens for an alleged rescue. I'll explain why I call them an alleged rescue in a moment. I found them on Craigslist. I had been perusing the pet section in search of slightly used cat furniture for our catio, and they put out an ad seeking experienced fosters for orphaned kittens. They stated they would provide all medical care and all supplies. My husband has been having kitten fever, and so this seemed like an ideal solution. We don't permanently end up with a new cat, but we both get a kitten fix. I contacted them, filled out a foster application, and they told me they would contact me when they had kittens in need.

    About a week later, I was contacted by the woman I had corresponded with late in the evening on a Friday. She apologized for the late notice, but said there was a mother cat with 5 3 week old kittens who was about to be euthanized at a shelter in the high desert if a foster home wasn't found. I agreed to take her, and they said they would bring her down the next day, but that it would probably be pretty late in the evening if that was okay. I said that it was. They arrived at 11:30 that night. They had a 2# bag of cat food, 5 cans of wet food, a small jug of litter, an old plastic cake pan to serve as a litter box, a few potty pads, and a cat bed. The cats were in a carrier that reeked, and was caked with dog feces. The rescue people, the woman I corresponded with and a man, said that normally they would have me sign a foster contract but it was late and we all needed to get to bed, so we could do that later. They left.

    I unloaded the cats from the carrier. Poor mama kitty was emaciated and infested with fleas. The kittens had fleas as well, though surprisingly not as bad. Mama kitty and 3 of the 5 babies are manx, with mama and 2 babies having stump tails, and 1 baby having no tail at all. Mama ran and hid behind the toilet (we had them in our master bathroom for the time being) and just cowered and shook. The kittens all seemed fairly healthy, just dirty with crusty eyes.

    It only took about 12 hours for mama kitty to come out of her shell and become one of the sweetest cats I've ever met. She loves belly rubs and will just sit next to you and stare at you lovingly. When I told the rescue that mama had fleas and the associated tapeworms, they told me they would get medicine from walmart and bring it over in a few days. I asked what they were getting, and they sent me a link to hartz flea medication and some duravet generic cat dewormer. I politely told them that these products were not appropriate, especially for a malnourished, lactating mama and that they needed an appropriate dewormer from their vet and proper flea products. They said they would make an appointment for her "in a few weeks". I got frustrated and went to my work and bought capstar and drontal tablets for mama, after consulting literature to make sure they were safe for nursing moms. I used a flea comb and dawn dish soap to painstakingly de-flea all 5 kittens. I then washed all bedding that had been used. Within 48 hours, we were flea and tapeworm free.

    Since the kittens have been here, the rescue has come by 1 time to bring food, at my request. They brought 8 cans of a completely different food. No dry. And a small jug of clay, clumping litter that I specifically told them I couldn't use because the kittens were eating it. I had told them that the kittens and mama are eating 5 cans of food a day, and a #6 bag of dry food a week. We are also going through litter extremely quickly now, because 6 cats generate a lot of poop and pee. I obviously resorted to buying everything myself, because they have to eat. When I told them I was doing this, I said that since my husband and I itemize our tax deductions anyway, we would just save our receipts and use this as a tax write-off. The rescue people seemed quite relieved that I was willing to do this, and while it's annoying because I was not expecting to spend so much money on these kittens, I at least know that they're getting the right food. I kept them on what the rescue originally brought that first night, which was Natural Balance canned and dry. I wouldn't have expected them to use such a costly food, but that was their choice. However, when they returned, they brought very cheap food, despite my reminding them what we were feeding, which I was not willing to use as I did not want upset kitten tummies.
    Last week, I googled the rescue because I wanted to see their adoption contract. After looking at their website, I happened to look at some of the other google hits, which ended up being rather alarming. It turns out they have a petition to get them shut down on change.org, and are prominently featured on rescuescams.com. They are mostly a dog rescue, in fact these are the only cats that I could find anywhere on any of their information. Google images had a screen shot of several Facebook posts by several reputable rescue organizations in the area warning people not to associate with the man, because he "is a homeless man posing as a rescue". There was also a news article where his home had burned down (I am guessing maybe this is how be became homeless?) and that animal control would not allow him to get his dogs back because he was a known hoarder. Needless to say, while I of course will take what I find on the internet with a grain of salt, these are concerning findings. I contacted the woman at the rescue and asked for the rescue's tax ID number, which I would need in order to claim these expenses as tax deductions. She waited 4 days before responding that they are not yet a 501c3. I was not surprised at this point, but also pretty unhappy, because they should have told me this when I said I would claim these expenses. They knew I wouldn't be able to, but they still allowed me to spend my own money on these cats. I told her that if that is the case, I will need to be reimbursed for everything I have spent so far. She said "of course." I told her the total, which is over $300. I realize it is a lot, but there are 6 of them, and they are eating a high-quality food that the rescue initially chose. I have not heard a peep since, and that was 10 days ago.

    At this point, I am simply not comfortable giving these cats back to this "rescue". I have invested not only money, but time and emotion into them. I am 100% willing and able to get them vaccinated, spayed and neutered, and find them homes on my own. I have the veterinary connections and resources to do so. Where I become concerned is the legal aspect of cutting ties with the rescue. I did not sign a foster contract. I have receipts to prove that I have provided food and necessary care for them. I even took all of them to a neurologist for evaluation when 2 of the tailless kittens showed signs of constipation, and I was worried about Manx Syndrome. I also sought care for Mama Kitty when she was lethargic and had a slight fever. She was seen by a doctor at my hospital and had bloodwork, including an FIV/Felv test, done. The rescue was aware that I sought this care, and seemed grateful, but made it clear that they would not have done the same. With regards to the Manx Syndrome, they contacted their vet, (a known chop shop in the inland empire) and he said it would be best to just euthanize all of the tailless cats. The neurologist that I took them too said that while she cannot rule out any future problems for certain, these kittens all show no signs whatsoever of having any problems, and that the constipation, which has completely cleared up and never returned, was likely just a result of the kittens adjusting to eating solid food.

    So I have solid proof that I have provided basic care, as well as veterinary care for these cats. I never signed a foster contract with this organization. My number one priority is making sure they are well-cared for and are adopted into appropriate homes. However, I do not want to do anything illegal. I realize this post has been very long, and probably very confusing. If anyone has any advice, I would certainly welcome it. I have truly tried to do everything in the best interest of the cats. And while I realize that anyone can post anything they want on the internet, there are simply too many red flags from too many independent sources regarding this rescue and these people to not cause me alarm. At this point, the kittens are now 8 weeks old, and are in need of their first set of vaccines. I need to figure out my game plan soon so that I can continue with appropriate care for the kittens, and begin finding them homes. I plan to wait until they are 3lbs to spay/neuter, as opposed to the traditional 2lb mark. I just feel like that is too small. I'd ideally like to wait until they are 6 months old, but I want to ensure they are altered before going to new homes, unless it is someone I know very well.

    Please let me know what you would do, or if you have any advice. Thank you so much for reading.

  • #2
    You have no contract, the rescue has no proof. I would tell them to pound sand and take care of and adopt out the kittens.

    Beware of scam rescues...they come in all flavors from money scammers to hoarders. The first step is to verify their 501(c)3 charter with the IRS, then to make sure they're registered with your state as a non profit.

    Comment


    • #3
      I would block their emails, block their phone number, and never talk to them again. They lied to you about being a rescue, and you have no contract, so they will probably just fade away. Just do what you've been doing, and ignore them. I bet if you don't contact them, they'll never call you anyway.

      You are such a good person for helping mama, and her babies.
      You can't fix stupid-Ron White

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      • #4
        What you are doing is wonderful. What a lucky day for those cats.

        Comment


        • #5
          No a lawyer or play at being one.... They DID give you these animals to rescue. I would give them a chance to get them back provided they reimburse you for their care as they said would. (Doesn't sound like they would but YOU are trying to do the right thing in a bad situation) If not, then adopt them out yourself.
          Equus makus brokus but happy

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          • #6
            Do they want them back to adopt out or are you assuming that? They may be relieved if you take care of that for them. Either way, no I would not be giving them back. They can do foster to adopt from your place with you facilitating everything including the approvals if necessary. The place I foster for doesn't have a building, they are an all foster organization so all the adoptions are done at foster homes.
            McDowell Racing Stables

            Home Away From Home

            Comment


            • #7
              I thought when you fostered, you foot all of the bills. I have never fostered but it is what I assumed.
              "Punch him in the wiener. Then leave." AffirmedHope

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              • #8
                I would not worry that they would come after you. Too much trouble on their part and like you said no foster agreement with them and you have assumed the expenses. I had a rescue go under with me fostering 2 dogs for them, the dogs got dumped on my. I had another rescue just drop me, period. Quit marketing my fosters and not answering my messages, they are still in business and thankfully another rescue stepped up for my foster dogs.

                Rescues are good, bad and sometimes a bit of both. Even 501c rescues. At this point though they are a necessary evil.

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                • #9
                  Cindy - Each organization has it's own rules about fosterage, but many will do things like cover vet bills but not food. Some cover everything. I have friends who have fostered and adopted greyhounds from the local GPA affiliate, and their foster contract says they cover everything, including food. This is what another rescue provides, and what the fosterer is responsible for:
                  Foster home is responsible for food, treats, water, and transportation. A New Leash on Life supplies flea/tick prev, HW prev, dewormer, etc. Any amount you spend on your foster pet is a donation, and therefore, it is tax-deductible. Example: if you supply HW prevention for your foster pets, you can consider it a donation. Keep track of your foster pet expenses, so we can give you a tax letter at the end of the year.
                  StG

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CindyCRNA View Post
                    I thought when you fostered, you foot all of the bills. I have never fostered but it is what I assumed.
                    I've never fostered but one of my previous groomers did and I know the rescue at least covered the vet bills and I think they covered the food and stuff as well but I don't know that 100%

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      They're not a 501(c)3. They appear to be known hoarders, in fact, if the internet information is true. You have no contract with them. Nothing legally binding you to them at all. My guess is that if YOU stop calling, you'll never hear from them again. If it were me, the kitties would be staying precisely where they are - what are they going to do, sue you? Keep the kitties. Consider it good karma.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My thought is, tell them what you told us...you're willing to provide their care & find them homes. If they are not agreeable, you want full reimbursement for your expenses by "X" date, or you will consider them abandoned. You know they don't have the money, but you are giving them the opportunity to make it good.

                        i have just started fostering thru our local humane society, and it has went very smoothly. Consider checking into that for the future. It's great having kittens, but no long term commitment. I'm at a point in my life I can do it. Mentally, I know they aren't mine, so I haven't gotten too attached.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I would just stop contacting them, and I bet they never contact you. If they do happen to, tell them you'll talk to them after they pay you the $$$ they owe you. I wouldn't want to have them sending people about the kittens either, since they seem to be possible hoarders, and have lied about their status.
                          You can't fix stupid-Ron White

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                          • #14
                            I do a lot of fostering, and have worked with several rescues. All of the rescues have provided medical care and adoption facilities. When I foster for our county, and they take the kittens/cats back and find them homes. Some of the rescues provide food as well, and if they don't, I itemize and deduct from my taxes. No legit rescue will hand you animals without a signed foster contract. They are concerned about the care and environment for the rescued animal.

                            Frankly, I would do as recommended and block that rescue and not give the cats back. I can't foster a mom and babies for long and not get pretty attached, and I wouldn't let them go back into such a wretched situation. Recommending worming a mother cat with Hartz would have been a deal breaker, as would keeping a mom and babies on filthy, flea ridden bedding. In the middle of kitten season that mom could take some time to get adopted, and who knows what kind of care she would get while she was waiting. And who knows if she would get spayed? California rescues have to spay cats before adopting them out, but it doesn't sound like this rescue cares about or follows rules.

                            With no contract, they have no recourse to getting the cats back from you. I really like the recommendation of poster, to tell them to pound sand. However presenting them with an itemized bill for all the money you have put into fostering this little family should also work.

                            Bless you for taking over and getting them what they need.
                            Mystic Owl Sporthorses
                            www.mysticowlsporthorses.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Sounds like they never have called you, you initiated all contact? Right? Stop calling them. They never did call to check up or anything else, only contact has been half assed in direct response to your calls and requests.

                              Dont call or contact them. Don't even think you need to block the # they never called. Doubt they care. They may not even remember they have any cats.
                              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I haven't read all the responses, OP, but if I were you, I'd part company with the rescue organization and treat these kittens as though you had found them on the street. Let go of the expense and tax write-offs and getting ripped off. I'll bet the rescue organization (such as it is) won't fight you on any of this.

                                You got your kitten fix and you are doing the right thing for animals... and, yeah, kittens do rack up a bill! But that would have been almost the same had you fostered for a legitimate organization. Or at least it could be: With my very good shelter, I pay for food and litter and such. They do basic vet care plus spaying/neutering, for which I and my wallet are grateful. But all else I consider my payment to the Kitten Brothel that keeps me happily supplied with a constant supply of kittens.
                                The armchair saddler
                                Politically Pro-Cat

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  They are YOUR Kittens! No contract. Cut all ties. Block them.
                                  Too many good rescues need people like you.
                                  I\'m not crazy. I\'m just a little unwell.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Sobriska View Post
                                    They are YOUR Kittens! No contract. Cut all ties. Block them.
                                    Too many good rescues need people like you.
                                    Boy, that's for sure!
                                    Mystic Owl Sporthorses
                                    www.mysticowlsporthorses.com

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I can't comment on your legal situation, but I'd be reluctant to just stop all contact with the rescue without notifying them of your intentions (in writing). Then when they don't respond, you'll have evidence that you made an attempt and they were the ones who failed to respond.

                                      I've fostered for a couple different rescues in my area, and I have always paid for food/litter. The rescues typically provide vet care. It may be different in other areas of the country. I'm sure 6 cats is getting expensive, though!

                                      PS Pictures. Must have pics of cute kittens! I can't believe the rest of the COTHers have failed to mention this!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Many rescues cover *approved* vet costs, often taking the animals to the vet directly, scheduling the appt directly, or instructing the foster home to sched with Such-and-Such Animal Hospital for xyz treatment/procedure. A foster home making veterinary decisions independently is out of the ordinary and would not be reimbursed. Many groups have to make vet care decisions based on limited resources; a neurologist would be out of the question for most.

                                        Kate, I am sorry you had such a negative experience. There are other legitimate and compassionate rescue groups who will want more discussion and appreciate your observations and concerns about the animals in your care. This isn't one.

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