Bradley's Page

"Let's see this sweet beginning
through to the bitter end."

--Anthony Newley

I have a lot of fun pretending to be a shady, cynical bastard here at Million Monkey Theater. It's a great venue for sharing my love of bargain-basement cinema and I get to swear as much as I like, but I have to be honest with you...I'm a bit of a fraud. I'm not particularly cynical, not at all shady and have failed utterly at my childhood dream of becoming a curmudgeon and a misanthrope. In fact much of my work and personal life dedicated to helping both humans and animals lead happier, more fulfilling lives. I'm deeply sorry for the misunderstanding. I know it must be a terrible disappointment.

Mental Health and Animal Rescue

Arch Street Center, my day job.

Arch Street Center is a non-profit, membership-based day center for adults living with serious mental illness in Lancaster, PA. We provide a community safe space, recreation facilities, daily meals, laundry, locker and shower facilities, planned and spontaneous activities and a sense of community and belonging. We serve a diverse demographic, cutting across boundaries of ethnicity, age and socio-economic backgrounds and provide social, moral and material support to a vulnerable and often marginalized population.

My assistant. He mostly likes to eat.

This is a very special and unique place. I'm privileged to be a part of the organization and proud to be a part of our members' recovery journeys. I encourage you to follow the link and learn more about the center and our mission. If the mood strikes you can even throw a few sheckels our way or maybe find a similar organization somewhere near you and volunteer. You'll be changing lives and you might just change yours a little, too.

Compassion for all things
is the engine of the universe.

Feral Friends and City Kitties, also known as FFACK! (say it like a chicken), is not really an official entity--it's what I collectively call my wife and I, a trap, some hutches, about 15 years' work and a big old gaggle of rescued cats. We occasionally coordinate with local individuals and agencies as needed, but we aren't affiliated with anyone officially. We are also self-funded but friends or family have sometimes helped with spay/neutering and food costs.

Ms. Penelopeeps enjoys her dinner.
She and her brother Mr. Gooseberry
live in hutches on our property.
Mr. Ferdinand, another male from this litter,
chose to become domestic
and is one of our house kitties.

We care for a colony of feral and stray kitties in our Lancaster City neighborhood. We practice trap-neuter-return, a process where cats are fixed, ear-tipped (to identify that they've been fixed so you don't keep catching the same ones) and placed back into their colonies. This is the most humane way to keep cat populations under control and also assures that a colony's territory is not depleted of the resources needed to keep them healthy. We work to socialize our ferals and if they are amenable to becoming pets we find them loving homes. We've either homed or provided potentially lifesaving medical assistance to 67 cats and kittens as of this writing and have spay/neutered many more. We feed and look after them, provide other care as needed and have several insulated shelters, including one that is internally heated. We even have a plug-in bowl that keeps water from freezing on those chill winter nights.

As demonstrated by Mr. Gooseberry,
this cherry wood hutch is
more comfortable than
my first apartment.

Our feral colony is like extended family, and for many of them we are the only humans they trust. Some we can pet, but for the most part they just like to be near us.

Ms. Eloise gazes lovingly at me.
Although I miss our morning snuggles
I'm happy she now has a loving home.

I've seen some stunning transformations from miserable, skinny and terrified animals to happy, healthy and joyful pets. We've helped some desperate creatures who had completely given up on life learn to thrive and we've even snatched a few kitties from the jaws of death. I once unblocked a dying kitten's bowels with my finger during a record-setting blizzard! We are what you might call dedicated.

Mr. Blackburn went from "can't start pooping"
to "can't stop purring." My finger
went into a vat of disinfectant.

Sometimes you're just in the right place at the right time to safe a life:

Mr. Tizwin was so weak he could
barely move when we found him on a farm.
His eyes were swollen shut with infection.
His face was encrusted with dried milk
and mucous. He couldn't even meow.
Now he's all grown up and
sleeps on my head every night.

Sometimes you can transform a life through unconditional love:

When I first saw Mr. Woody he was
the saddest creature I'd ever encountered.
He walked as if each step carried
the weight of every cruelty the
world could inflict. This is Woody after three
months of copious love and attention.

Sometimes it's not just cats who need rescuing:

This little fellow had gotten some twine
wrapped around his neck and
was suffocating. I managed to
remove it and revive him.

Sometimes you find new friends in strange places:

I found Ms. Archibelle just off the
parking lot at Arch Street Center and
rescued her when her mother died.
She had the worst flea infestation
I've ever seen--so bad she would
have died from it. She required
bottle feeding for two weeks before
being weaned onto solid food.
One of my coworkers adopted her.

Sometimes you see something unexpected:

Most feral kitties are willing to share
their food and their hutches with a possum,
though sometimes only grudgingly!
Possums are completely harmless.
They cannot carry rabies
due to their low blood temperature
and they consume fleas and ticks
by the hundreds per day. I'm a fan!

Sometimes kitties are ready to be loved immediately:

We found a home for Ms. Theadora
within 48 hours. She basically waltzed in
and took over!

Sometimes they can wait years to find their forever home:

Mr. Wonka was part of another colony
cared for by a great friend.
We cared for the colony whenever
she traveled and I just fell in love with him.
When she had to move to another city
I knew we needed to find him a home.
He was about four years old and although
he was a friendly and loving guy we knew
the transition would be a challenge.
Thankfully we found a wonderful home
with people willing to be patient with him
and he's now a fat, happy housecat.

It's been a long, bumpy road running an unofficial, unfunded, impromptu rescue. There are moments of triumph and moments of pain, but you learn to persevere and continue to do what's best for the animals who need you. Each animal you save adds a little bit of love into the world and eases a little bit of suffering, and that's perhaps the best use a life can be put to.

I value the relationships I've developed with my own cats, my feral friends and the many various animals my wife and I regularly care for as pet sitters as much as any human relationships I've ever had. These animals have rich emotional lives and their capacity to love and forgive never fails to astonish me. They want to be fed of course, but what they want most is to be safe and loved.

When you strip away all the layers of artifice we use to protect ourselves isn't that just what we all want, too?

For more information on trap-neuter-return and cat rescue in general visit Alleycat Allies. They're a great resource and a stellar organization.

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