Giving necessary information
Wiggie, one of our great CATSNIP volunteers, was calling someone about sterilisation slots and the woman told Wiggie that some of her cats had been trapped. The feeder was understandably quite upset and Wiggie advised her yesterday to speak with her TC and the AVA.
I just called her as well because Wiggie said that the TC denied trapping the cats and I wanted to find out more. Wiggie mentioned the woman could sometimes get a bit off track.
When I spoke with the feeder, I found out eventually that she had called the AVA and they had kept insisting they did not trap cats. The feeder said the person on the line would not listen and then hung up eventually.
I understood why when I spoke with her - she was understandably agitated, but the problem was that she was giving a LOT of detail, but not the right sort of detail. For example, she was giving me a history of all the cats, which cat was sterilised when, why she thought the ear was not tipped enough on this one cat, etc.
Now all this is fine - but I had a lot of trouble getting the information I DID need from her and it was all jumbled up. Was this the first time the cats were trapped? Did anyone see anything? What did they see? Did she speak with the TC? It was only after going around and around that I managed to get the information I needed.
So if you're calling and speaking with an officer especially, they're not likely to want to hear the relationship between one cat and the other - what they DO need to know is (1) when the cats were trapped (2) how many cats were trapped and (3) where the cats were trapped. You should also give a description of the cat - what colour, any distinguishing markings (special mark, bob tail, etc). Keep it factual - for example, cute things the cat does are not particularly useful at this point, especially as they're going to be so scared they are unlikely to do any of these things.
I also advised her to ask the people in the area to keep an eye out for whomever was trapping the cats and for specific details - what time they come? Are they wearing a uniform? Do they drive (presumably this would be the case as they need to transport the cats)? If so, what vehicle do they drive, any details - license plate number, colour of the car/van and the name of the company. The more detailed the description of the people and their vehicle in terms of what they look like will make it easier to trace them down.