With the impending departure of longtime residents from Washington, DC’s Barry Farms housing complex due to the incoming redevelopment of the neighborhood, residents are packing up their belongings and slowly relocating. But, for M.G., the cats came first.
Like many neighborhoods in DC, a group of community cats live in the Barry Farms neighborhood. These cats live outdoors and caring citizens look out for their well-being. They provide food and water for them and work closely with the Humane Rescue Alliance’s community cat program to make sure they are spayed and neutered, vaccinated, and receive needed medical treatment.
For M.G., crucial personal decisions, including determining where she would live once she is forced to leave the Barry Farms neighborhood, were being put on hold. She wanted to make sure that the cats she has long cared for will have a new home when the demolition of the buildings at Barry Farms begins. She was so concerned, she was forgoing her own relocation plans so that she could look out for her particular feline friends.
HRA’s community cat team, who works in conjunction with HRA’s Help Out, Partner, and Engage (HOPE) program, has invested years of efforts establishing relationships with Barry Farms pet owners as well as the residents who feed and care for the outdoor cats. Together they came to M.G.’s assistance and assured her that her cats would be taken care of by HRA.
In total, 19 cats were transported from the neighborhood to HRA where they were examined by veterinarians, spayed and neutered if necessary, and assessed for the best possible outcome for them. Eleven cats were determined to be social enough for adoption. Eight cats entered HRA’s Blue Collar Cats program, an effort to provide homes for cats who aren’t suited for life indoors with families. These cats are “put to work” with area businesses and homeowners who pledge to care for these outdoor cats while, in turn, the cats provide needed rodent deterrent. Thanks to life saving programs like Blue Collar Cats, outdoor, unadoptable cats who previously would have had no live outcome options can now continue to live out their lives.
When the Barry Farms demolition was first announced, the programs that made it possible for HRA to help these cats did not exist. HRA had no robust relocation program such as Blue Collar Cats and the HOPE program, an initiative designed to support pet owners in caring for their animals in areas with less medical and care resources, was in its infancy. While we’re proud to have helped these cats, the fact that we were able to do so is a milestone, a testament to trust built and innovative programing aimed at saving lives and supporting the people who care for them.
In an otherwise traumatic situation, the story of the Barry Farms cats has a positive ending. M.G., who put aside her personal needs to care for animals that needed her, knows that her cats are safe. And, for the cats that called Barry Farms home for many years, the Humane Rescue Alliance has given them a new lease on life, through adoption, or the Blue Collar Cats program.
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