Smartphone Ethnography: Madison-Greene Humane Society

Yesterday I drove 2.5 hours to the MGHS shelter.

The building has dogs on one side, and cats on the other, and are run by two different organizations. MGHS is the cat side. Recently, they had their own door installed in order to accommodate better visiting hours.

My husband snapped photos while I signed up for litter box cleaning duty.

The Director, Rebecca, introduced us to all of the cats. Many of the cats rotate having free time to roam, so that they’re not stuck in cages all of the time. The rotation schedule depends on the health of the cat, and the behavior of the cat with the others. This type of socialization makes for well-rounded and less stressed out cats. Many of the cats were incredibly friendly to us visitors, greeting us at the door, wanting to be held, and jumping immediately onto my husband’s lap.

In addition to adoptions, the shelter also used to hold regular spay/neuter clinics for the community once a week. A volunteer veterinarian would come to help with the clinic as well as spay/neuter the shelter’s cats, keeping adoption costs low. Things are currently in transition as their vet has been doing this valiant job for years, so the Director is hoping to find another volunteer veterinarian willing to at least spay/neuter the shelter’s cats.

Rebecca admits that funds are low. They have a goal of raising $100k by the end of the year, but know that it’s a stretch. ¬†As a result, she’s brainstorming special events and fundraising activities. In a text after my visit, she reported:

“Each cat runs an average cost of $400. We spend over $5,000 a year on food and litter alone. It takes about $300-400 per day to operate the shelter at this time…”

My first thought was, what would happen if the group decided to post such on their social media? Why don’t they? At the very least, they will hopefully take advantage of social media to advertise their fundraising events. This is a good example of my research topic: is overshare going to cause a negative reaction to the shelter’s need, or will the frank honesty of the situation persuade people to participate in the fundraising endeavors? Even if someone decides to help out this one time, will they help again in the future should a new crisis occur?

A three year old DLH, Fern, caught my husband’s eye so naturally we decided to bring her home to foster. We took her to a vet that works with the rescue for shots, tests, and ultimately a clean bill of health on the way home.

So far, Fernie has hung out in our cat trees and plopped onto the couch with us. It’s sort of remarkable for an adult cat to get so comfortable in the house so quickly. I’m pretty smitten with her.

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