All letters are in response to last issue's cover article about the Goathouse Refuge.
I read with interest the article written by Lisa Sorg regarding the Goathouse Refuge in Pittsboro, a cat shelter that I have visited several times to get a cat fix after my kitty died.
I have no personal knowledge regarding the operations of the shelter, but I have seen with my own eyes healthy, happy cats living together in more harmony than I could ever imagine unrelated cats doing. Unhappy cats are easy to spot; they can be withdrawn, listless or confrontational, and I don't see that. I see cats hanging out together or wandering the 1.5 acres that is fenced for their protection.
Are there too many cats? I don't know. Could the shelter benefit from better organization? I don't know, but if true, perhaps Lisa's article will speed up that process. I do know that the shelter is open for visitation from noon to 3 p.m. every day. I've been out there both on weekends and during the week and never found it in unkempt conditions. I suggest that readers go see for themselves.
I am a current volunteer at the Goathouse Refuge in Pittsboro, and the portrait painted by Lisa Sorg's article is one that I do not recognize. I have been volunteering at the Goathouse since 2009; I know of challenges faced by the organization, and I have seen the Goathouse evolve. I can say that I believe that it is a safe and nurturing environment for the cats. My family and I have personally rescued eight cats that Siglinda [Scarpa] took in, and they received good care and were all adopted out except the most recent one, who has been there only three months.
Every day Siglinda is inundated with calls, emails and people just dropping by telling her of cats that need rescue. It is an enormously stressful position that would be difficult for anyone to handle. This article nearly brought me to tears because it paints such a negative portrait of the place I love. I know of the problems the Goathouse has had in the past, but lessons have been learned, and the Goathouse continues to grow and refine all of the cat care procedures. This is a big rescue operation that needs community support, not condemnation. By the way, stomatitis is not generally considered a contagious disease—it is a very painful condition, but cats do not pass it to one another.
Thank you for a responsible, thoroughly researched and balanced article about the Goathouse Refuge. The Goathouse is a sad example of the very best intentions to do good, sometimes well realized but often falling painfully short. After several years of volunteering at the Goathouse, I stopped for ethical reasons regarding the treatment of people and animals as well as the use of funds and property. I witnessed excellent, dedicated volunteers, vet techs, other paid staff and board members ejected on Siglinda's sole authority, and often in an unnecessarily harsh and impetuous manner. Siglinda was indifferent when I expressed my concerns (both in person and in emails). Her response was, "You can leave." Two board members solicited my input and promised changes that were not sustained. Past efforts to limit intakes and to shift decision-making, hiring and firing have repeatedly failed. Real change at the Goathouse would depend on a much more involved board and very different management.
I'd like to express the frustration I felt after reading Lisa Sorg's article supposedly exposing Goathouse Refuge. I worked for the refuge a few years back, and, though the sanctuary is not the best place to work for, it is filling an entirely necessary role in a state where cats and dogs are being literally gassed to death in most county shelters and then incinerated as if they are trash. I worked there during the panleukopenia outbreak, and I can tell you that those were cats that I had pulled from the Gaston County shelter from disgusting, inhumane conditions hours before they were to be killed. They caught that disease in a poorly run shelter that is typical of nearly all the shelters in this state. Over half the cats did survive that illness and did so only because Siglinda was willing to take them in and give them medical care.
I've been to county shelters that literally let infant kittens starve to death until it's time to gas them because they think it takes too much effort to bottle-feed them. ... You are doing the animals a disservice by focusing on petty problems at Goathouse instead of the root of the problems, which are breeders, lack of sterilization services and rampant, county-sponsored killing of animals.
I would like to add my two cents worth of opinion about Lisa Sorg's dreadful and one- sided article about Goathouse Rescue. I was a reporter for 30 years before retiring, and in my day we interviewed people on both sides if we were going to come out so strongly on an issue. Where are the voices of those who disagree, who give tirelessly of their time and money to ease the plight of these homeless cats....everyone she sought out and quoted is obvioulsy to support her misguided points. She did not write a fair and objective article.
In the name of responsible journalism I would like to see you do an article interviewing those who work in a positive way to support Siglinda and Goathouse Rescue. In my opinion Goathouse Rescue could be a template for how a shelter should be. It certainly did not deserve this kind of treatment in any media. It is more the pride and joy of the Piedmont in my humble opinion..humane,kind and most a exemplary effort to deal with a tragic and heartbreaking situation in our culture.
It's very sad..What is happening to responsible journalism?...and it will surprise me if you let me have my say about this, especially since Lisa IS the editor..but people,,this article was not objective and what is journalism if it is continually allowed to spin the facts like this.
[Editor's note: This letter is published exactly as received.]