Monday, June 30, 2014

Interview with Animal Shelter Volunteer Life

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?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Interview With Anna From Herding Cats & Burning Soup

Today we have an interview with Anna from Herding Cats & Burning Soup.  

First of all, thank you for being a cat rescuer.  It seems like the kitties need all of the help they can get.  How did you become involved in cat rescue?  Did you always plan to become a herder of cats?
Hey Danielle! LOL nope never really planned on being a herder of cats. I'd originally wanted to herd other peoples pets as a vet but then my mom sent me a book about Best Friend's Animal Society out in Utah. They're a huge sanctuary and do animal outreach. And that completely changed my plans and I decided once I finished school I'd open a rescue but then...I had an escapee of the feline variety from my herd.
For weeks I searched all of the animal control centers for Piedmont. There were so many kittens looking for homes and I knew since it was a county shelter most wouldn't make it long enough to find homes since they euthanize for space reasons. So after 3 1/2 weeks of searching with no luck I decided I'd probably never find Piedmont and maybe it had all been set in motion to get me to start the rescue then instead of waiting until I'd finished college. I did all my paperwork, brought home a handful of kittens and then...2 days later...Piedmont came strolling into the house and jumped up on his bookcase like he hadn't been gone for nearly a month. ::snort:: He's snuggled up at the foot of the bed as I type. lol (about 10 years later)

How many cats have come through your rescue?
 Oh goodness. Since I started 350ish plus a couple hundred pups and a few mice.

How many cats and kittens, on average, are in your care on any given day?
 It's changed over the years depending on the rescue's set up. A few years back we moved into an adoption center (from mainly using foster homes) so it went up a bit for me personally since I manage the adoption center. Right now on a daily basis I'm in charge of around 30 cats between my personal cats, fosters that live with me and the kitties that live at our adoption center.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a cat rescuer?
 Finding homes for less adopable kitties--adults, solid black cats, ones with medical issues or that are shy. It's so hard for all of them to find their forever families. They're often overlooked for kittens and younger kitties or ones that have more unique coat patterns.

So many people seem to feel that what they’re able to do or give isn’t “enough” to make a difference in rescue.  As a rescuer, what are some of the really small ways people can help to make a big difference?
 Everything can be helpful depending on the rescue's set up and really makes a huge difference. Some things from my end...
Donations! From small donations of food, toys or treats to monetary donations. With having an adoption center--cleaning supplies are always great things to received, bedding, towels, baskets the cats can snuggle in
Socializing with the animals-- Many animals come into rescues from hard situations. Some are shy, or have had little love in their lives or are just a little shell shocked from being in such a new situation. So coming in to the rescue and socializing--just sitting around and letting a herd babe climb in your lap for a while or rolling around a toy with a playful kitten is amazing! While it might not seem like much you can make a huge difference in helping them adjust and find their forever homes.
Donating your labor--If you have special skills or just a few hours on your hands and can help with things like cleaning their living areas or making repairs and such. If the rescue has an adoption center or you have a local shelter those are things that have to happen every single day of the year. Workdays, weekends, holidays. If you have the time and are willing to get a little dirty it's not glamorous but definitely helps the cause.
Helping out at adoption events. It all really helps. Even if you've just got an hour or two here or there.

Is there anything major (urgent need, exciting new plans, etc.) going on with your rescue right now?
Herm. Not really! We're in the process of turning more sanctuary than rescue. So more focus on longer term fosters that have "issues" that make them less adoptable so things are quieter around here at the moment.

If you had one paragraph to convince someone to rescue/adopt a cat what would you say?
You're saving more than one life every time you adopt a kitty. The kitty you adopted and the one a rescue can pull to take it's place which in turn gives those at county shelters just a little more time. It's an amazing thing.

Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us about your cat rescue.
Thanks so much for having me on! Love what you're doing this month spreading the word and greatly appreciate it :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

June Is Adopt A Cat Month

I haven’t forgotten about or abandoned this project!  It’s just that June has also turned into something of a crazy month for me.  I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me when a month I see as license to indulge my inner crazy cat lady turns crazy.
There are a few modifications to my plan, however.  Obviously, I am not featuring a different cat and/or shelter every day as I had originally hoped. I do still have some guest posts lined up, and I’m very excited about those. It’s not too late to have a guest post.  If you’d like to share anything relevant to the world of cat rescue, just send me an email.  It’s all about the cats!
I’m still entering all of the rescues featured into a drawing for a $25.00 donation from me, and will announce that on July 1st
In closing for today, I’d just like to encourage everyone to do something nice for shelter cats this month.   We’re not all in a position to adopt another cat, and that’s perfectly understandable, but we can all do a little something to make things a little easier for shelter cats whether it’s donating to your local shelter, dropping off a bag of food or litter, changing litter boxes, or helping to socialize the cats.  After all, it is their month.