Today we have an interview with Meowmeowmans (a.k.a. Kevin) from Animal Shelter Volunteer Life. It's a great blog featuring the adoptable cats at PAWS. Be sure to check it out!
Thank you so much for agreeing to chat with us about your work at PAWS! And thank you for being involved in cat rescue! Yours is the only rescue blog I’ve ever come across. What led to the decision to write a rescue blog?
My amazing wife, Tracey, started Animal Shelter Volunteer Life to help raise awareness about the wonderful PAWS cats, and to help demonstrate the amazing human/animal bond that takes place during the time we spend at the shelter.
How did you become involved in cat rescue?
I’ve always been a huge animal lover, and while growing up in Southern California, my family had a wide range of pets, including dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, lizards and fish (though not all at the same time). Flash forward MANY years … I first began volunteering at PAWS (Pet Animal Welfare Society) at a time when I had just moved back to the Norwalk, Connecticut area, after a job stint in another city. I was living in an apartment that did not allow pets (happily, my landlords later changed their minds), and figured I could get an “animal fix” by volunteering with the cats and dogs, while doing something good and productive.
It wasn’t long at all before I was hooked. And it was clear I was getting far more BACK from these animals and my experiences at the shelter than I could ever give. I am still volunteering there almost 17 years later. On a side note, PAWS is where Tracey (who has been volunteering for 11 years) and I reconnected (we used to work together a long time ago) and fell in love.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face at PAWS?
Like any no-kill shelter, it’s often a numbers game for PAWS. There are so many stray and abandoned animals out there, and not enough space or resources. It really highlights the need for strong spay and neuter programs, education, and Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR), etc.
Anyone involved in animal rescue knows that it can be heartbreaking at times, is there one particular rescue story or experience that helps you continue on as a cat rescuer?
There is definitely some sadness that comes with being involved with animal rescue, but it’s critical to remember that the lives of the animals that do wind up being rescued are improved on so many levels. You never forget the sad things that happen, but clinging to – and really owning – the good stuff that happens really helps keep us from being overwhelmed.
It breaks our hearts to see new arrivals that are fearful, angry or emotionally withdrawn. And who can blame them? What an overwhelming experience to be thrust into. But we are so often amazed and inspired to see love, kindness and patience help those very same animals learn to trust people again. And there’s no better feeling than when that animal finds its forever home.
So many times people seem to think that what they’re able to do isn’t “enough” to help a rescue or shelter. What are some of the small ways you’ve found that people can make a big difference in the lives of shelter cats?
There are so many opportunities to help shelter animals. Some people might think that “only a few hours” isn’t going to make a difference. But there is so much you can do. A few hours spent sitting quietly with a frightened animal could very well be the thing that helps it begin to trust people. And for those who aren’t as hands-on, the shelter is always in need of supplies, food, and donations. Other ways to help include fundraising, helping to write pet animal bios, conducting store visits to solicit donations and distribute information, making needed building repairs, transporting animals for vet appointments, cleaning, writing thank you letters, collecting and redeeming
cans and bottles, fostering animals, and so on. These things are all critical to the
shelter’s survival, so it is no exaggeration to say they all make a big
difference in the animals’ lives. I
would encourage everyone to just try volunteering. The time you give will change lives – the
animals’ and yours!
Is there anything major (urgent need, exciting new plans, etc.) going on with PAWS right now?
There is a really cool volunteer-initiated and implemented “catification” enrichment effort underway right now in one of the open (no cage) cat rooms. The room is being redesigned – with spaces, furniture and interactive features – to improve the lives of the cats by creating a home-like atmosphere for these kitties as they wait for their real forever homes.
If you had one paragraph to convince someone to adopt/rescue a cat, what would you tell them?
Shelter cats are amazing, and have so much love to give. They are not somehow “broken.” In our experience, there’s a good home for every cat and dog … they just need a chance. By adopting an animal, you’re actually saving TWO lives – the one of the animal you adopt, and the one of the animal for whom there is now space at the shelter. Rescue pets KNOW you’re the one who saved them. Your reward is the unconditional love they give to you. And everyone wants to be loved, right?