This Cat Mom Is Bringing Peace to Pet Parents Throughout the UK
Meet Mandy. Mandy is an animal lover and cat mom living in the West Midlands in the UK. But her life hasn’t always been rosy. In fact, she became a Care2 activist after tragedy entered her life several years ago, when her beloved cat Snowy disappeared. Having seen roadside accidents involving pets before, Mandy feared the worst, though she never found out what happened to Snowy.
Mandy channeled her grief and outrage by starting a Care2 petition demanding that all local councils scan cats killed by cars for microchips, so their families can have closure. Her petition became the foundation of a nationwide campaign that was covered in media outlets that ranged from her local newspaper to the BBC. Now, more than 49,000 signatures later, fourteen councils have confirmed they will scan cats as a result of this petition (and Mandy expects a few more to join that list very soon).
We were so incredibly heartened and inspired by Mandy’s story. After facing her own tragedy, she realized there were countless others out there like her, and she chose to make a stand to help spare other pet parents the same pain and confusion she felt.
To learn more about this incredible activist, read our interview with her below!
How did you learn about the issue of scanning cats for microchips?
A while back, my cat Snowy went missing. He just vanished without a trace. I did all the usual — knocking on doors, calling around, posting his information on lost and found pages etc. Finally, I rang my local council thinking Snowy may have been in an accident. Someone informed me that if something like that happened, the council would have collected him.
Snowy had a microchip and I presumed that would be his saviour, and mine. But at that time, my council did not scan pets for microchips nor even keep a record of pets’ colorings or any other information about them. Then I learned that no council across the UK was required to scan pets they found, and common practise was actually to collect the ‘roadkill’ and dispose of these pets just like they do with general rubbish. I had to challenge this – if not by a change in law, then at least by appealing to the councils’ better sides.
What brought to you to Care2?
I first found out about Care2 after the media storm surrounding Cecil the Lion’s poaching, and I have been signing Care2 petitions ever since then. I started by adding my name to the hundreds of thousands of others around the world to show support against trophy hunting. Shortly after that, I began receiving updates on the progress of the campaign and messages from like-minded people on the site and enjoyed being part of the community. Since then, I have signed hundreds of petitions through Care2 and enjoy the updates on people’s progress – proving petitions see results. It’s a fantastic community and proven to get results in many cases.
Why was this cause personally important to you?
This is so important to me because I personally know the mental torture of never knowing what happened to your pet. We were about to move house around the time Snowy vanished but we cancelled the move ‘in case he came home and we weren’t there’. We unhappily stayed in that house for an extra year before sort of accepting he wasn’t coming home.
Without knowing though, even now I drive past our old house and look for him, half-expecting him to be roaming somewhere. If the council did collect him and they had checked his microchip and notified me, we could have processed what had happened and had some closure. I wanted to bring awareness to this and encourage all councils to change. Now 15 councils have amended their policy, which is fantastic news for pet parents everywhere.
What’s your favorite part of being a Care2 member?
My favourite part of being a Care2 member is that I have actually managed to change people’s lives! I have had reports back from the councils who have now implemented the scanners, but one report-back in particular was very special. This council said since changing their policy, they have only collected one cat from the roadside (due to them being more of a rural area), but that cat was microchipped and was returned to the family who were very grateful and buried their beloved family pet in their garden.
To think that if I did not create my Care2 petition, that family would feel exactly the same as I did when we lost Snowy, helps to show the difference that one person can make. Of course there will be hundreds and even thousands of others whom the petition will personally help, but to hear of a personal report like that, it makes all the difference. People’s pets are family members, we should be notified if the worst happens.
How do you keep motivated?
Passion for this issue keeps me motivated. There’s nothing I can do about Snowy now, but I do have three rescue cats at present. I just can’t go through that again with any of my girls. People who have signed my petition have gotten in touch with me, and I feel their worry that it could happen to them also. Then there are the people who have had personal experiences such as searching through council bins for their pet – some of the horrific stories I have been told really spur me on. If I ever have a difficult day during the campaigning, there is always either a message from a signer, or a snuggle from one of my cats that soon reminds me to soldier on. Also, the more great results that come pouring in, the more motivated I become. There have been a lot more ups during this than downs, and I always try and remember that.
When you get stuck on an advocacy problem, what resources to do you use to solve it?
Before this campaign, I think the only time I ever spoke to a council was to request a new paper recycling bag. This campaign has lead me to speak to almost all of the 400+ councils around the UK, and with each one there is usually a new challenge to overcome. I find it works best to speak in a way that tries to find some common ground. I try to genuinely find out a certain council cannot offer what the petition is asking for, and I use that to hopefully try and find a solution to their reservations. You would guess they can simply buy scanners and scan the animals — but unfortunately, it is not that simple, and each council’s reservations are completely different.
For example, two councils did not have the resources available, but did actually want to start scanning. After I approached two different Cats Protection branches, they each stepped in to offer the donation of scanners. Some councils refused to respond to the petition, so I involved local media outlets. After 50+ newspapers ran the petition story, I soon had those councils contacting me. One or two even introduced scanners as a result. I’ve found throughout this campaign that there are so many people willing to offer help when I need that little bit extra that’s beyond me. The Care2 community is a hidden gem — so many people came out of the woodwork to support me and sign my petition, and that’s why it’s been so successful.