The PCS volunteers-from the very first phone call the Message Center receives, through the time-consuming choosing process that the adoption conselors take the new parents through, we thank them for doing a wonderful job! A very loud purr to all!!
The unsung heroes of any organization are those who do the basic work. The ones who show up, do their jobs in almost complete obscurity, and go home. PCS volunteers are truly unique and dedicated individuals. They donate their time and their talents. They volunteer willingly, without complaint. We would like to thank each and every one of you for your kindness and generosity. For every unselfish act that makes PCS flourish we thank you, because we realize that you are the shelter. Without you PCS would not exist.
For nearly 10 years, Susan Connelly has been involved with the Purr-fect Cat Shelter. She started off contributing to the annual Pet Walk through her job at Ocean Spray. Thanks to her efforts, the company has continued to donate cases of juice for walkers ever since. Susan also donated baked goods and items for the annual Bake Sale and Yard Sale, and as she got to know the volunteers, she became interested in volunteering herself. "I thought I certainly could find some time to work in an administrative area if they could use me," she said. "I guess the rest is history, as they say."
For many years, Susan volunteered as a corresponding secretary, typing monthly "thank you" letters that are sent out to contributors. Recently, she has taken on a larger role with the Adopt-A-Cage Program. Through the program, she supports Lotus, a resident cat at the Shelter. Becoming a more active volunteer has been an easy transition for her, thanks to the strong organization of her predecessor. Still, she's looking to make improvements where she can. "I am looking for ways where we might improve the existing program and streamline some of the paperwork and mailings," she said.
Over the years, Susan has found volunteering to be very rewarding. "The Purr-fect Cat Shelter has to rely totally on their volunteers, and this is more meaningful to me knowing that all the money raised goes right back into the shelter and their needs and not to administrative costs or someone's salary," she said. Susan encourages others to get more involved in volunteering at the Shelter. She notes that you don't have to have a lot of time - just passion and commitment to what you're doing. "It all helps!" she said. "The Purr-fect Cat Shelter is so fortunate to have a wonderful and dedicated group of people who care so much about the Shelter and its occupants. It's truly humbling to work alongside some of them."
A simple love of animals - and the support of her family - has given Brenda Hamelin enough experiences to fill a book. Brenda is entering her eleventh year as Animal Control Officer for the towns of Medway and Millis and has also been a volunteer on the Board of Directors for the Purr-fect Cat Shelter for almost four years. Her professional experience with animals started when she was working as a veterinary assistant in a local animal hospital. Brenda's father encouraged her to apply for the Medway/Millis animal control position, citing good benefits and hours that would work well when her daughter was in school. Brenda's sister also helped by formatting her first resume - a family effort that led to the job that Brenda loves. "Animal Control Officers have gotten a bad rap [because of old-time dog catchers]," Brenda says. "People think that you just hold the animal for ten days and then euthanize it. But ACOs are now more for the animal's welfare." Many Massachusetts ACOs, including Brenda, have gone through an 84-hour state course that explains the state laws regarding animals, animal cruelty, and quarantines; educates officers in handling exotic animals; and teaches them how to use a rabies pole to catch suspected rabies cases.
The latter skill has been especially handy as local communities experience an upswing in rabid animals. Rabies in the community is cyclical, peaking when wild animal populations are largest and waning as they die off. Brenda reports that she captured 26 sick raccoons in Medway from December 2006 to November 2007. One large raccoon attacked a family's golden retriever within a few minutes of the dog being let out in the backyard. The vaccinated dog survived, "but the two family members were exposed to the raccoon's saliva on the dog's fur and had to get post-exposure shots," Brenda says. She explains that the best way to keep rabid wildlife out of suburban yards is to avoid making it a place to get an easy meal. Keep small animals, such as cats, indoors, and refrain from feeding pets outside, but if you do, pick up leftover food after your pet has eaten. Rake underneath bird feeders to remove tasty seeds, and report stray or feral cats and dogs to your ACO as soon as possible, so that those animals can be captured, vaccinated, and fixed before they breed or become rabies carriers. While the Medway raccoon is a textbook example of a rabid animal's behavior, Brenda cautions that it is not always so easy to tell when an animal carries the virus. She once retrieved a docile, long-haired tiger cat who had been lounging in a resident's yard on a Friday afternoon, "looking as if he had just come from the groomer." The cat exhibited perfect adoptable behavior at the Animal Control kennel on Friday night and Saturday, but on Sunday, the virus began to affect the cat's brain. The cat bit a small stray dog before the deputy ACO could get it back in its cage, and in the time that it took Brenda to arrive and discuss the situation with the deputy, the cat had suffered paralysis of the hindquarters. Even though the cat couldn't stand, he dragged himself across the cage and head-butted the bars, trying to bite. "When an animal is very sick with rabies, it is not the pet you knew," Brenda emphasizes. "It is not the same animal you have loved." This incident resulted in a six month quarantine for the dog; because it had been vaccinated against rabies at some recent point, it did not fall ill and was able to be adopted. "It's so important to vaccinate even your indoor animals," Brenda adds. "You never know what will get in your house." She offers the example of a rabid bat that was found in the living room of a house with an unvaccinated eight-year-old cat. There was no way to prove that the cat had not come in contact with the bat, so the family pet had to be euthanized.
Although towns offer low-cost rabies vaccinations to their residents' cats and dogs, most do not have a plan in place for helping stray or feral cats, so the Purr-fect Cat Shelter's assistance has made a real difference in Brenda's work. "PCS is a huge resource that I'm grateful to have, and I was honored when they asked me to be on the board," Brenda says. "We are on the same page when it comes to giving the cats a chance." Towns won't pay for testing and spaying/neutering stray cats, but PCS pays for medical visits, combo-testing, and vaccines, and Brenda uses her barn as a quarantine area for "awesome cats that have potential." One such cat was Rags, now a shelter resident. "He was found as an intact male with lots of scratches on his face, probably from fighting with other males, but we couldn't be sure," Brenda says. "We decided that we'd give him a chance" as a PCS resident instead of a trap-neuter-release cat, which had been the original plan. Now, as shelter volunteers will tell you, he is a gorgeous long-haired sweetheart who is just one of hundreds of current and former PCS rescues from Medway/Millis. In the course of her caretaking, Brenda has adopted several PCS cats, each of which has special needs. There is Hobbit, who is blind in both eyes but uses his sense of smell to detect strangers; Smudge, a feral barn cat who now allows Brenda to scratch his back while he eats; Ginger, who lost her eyesight due to illness in kitten hood and was bottle-fed by Brenda; Ginger's brother Basil, who has one good eye and whiskers that are twice as long on his blind side; Peanut, who was a tiny, sick kitten with an eye defect when he was rescued; and Bunny, who was hit by a car in Medway and suffered a skull fracture and broken femur. Bunny was on "temporary" cage rest at Brenda's house when Peanut fell in love with her, barely leaving her cage for a month while she convalesced; now the two are inseparable. Although Steve, Brenda's husband, was reluctant to admit Bunny to the burgeoning household, he has become an unexpected cat advocate, helping Brenda bottle-feed several litters of kittens each year and using his skills as a general contractor to renovate the new cat shelter. "I couldn't get half the work done without him," Brenda says. To live peacefully with six cats, two dogs, two cockatiels, three rabbits, twelve chickens, three goats, two horses, and one miniature donkey, you must have a true love for animals, and Brenda communicates that throughout her life and work. Thank you, Brenda!
Kathy Clark, Carol McNichols and Barbara St. John
While many of us are picking up our pizza orders and popping in a video for a night at home, three dedicated shelter volunteers are busy cleaning cages and caring for feline residents. Kathy Clark, Carol McNichols, and Barbara St. John wash food bowls or litter boxes, wipe down cages, pour fresh water, and talk to each cat on their Saturday nights. While a typical caregiving shift is three hours every other week, these volunteers enjoy their work so much that they volunteerthree or four Saturday nights per month.
Kathy and Barbara both started volunteering two years ago. Kathy smilingly relates that she adopted her cat Liza from the shelter, and one month later, "Joan [the adoption counselor] roped me in" to become a cat caregiver. A Holliston resident, Kathy credits her parents for showing kindness and respect for animals and instilling in their daughter a lifelong love of small creatures. In addition to Liza, a true "girly girl" of a cat, Kathy shares her home with feline Harriet, two parakeets, and two mice. She reassures readers that the cats are not very interested in playing with their smaller housemates. Barbara, a Millis resident, welcomes her volunteer work as "stress relief" with the added benefit of getting to know the residents and making it possible for other pet parents to adopt homeless cats. She learned about PCS when she adopted Kit from the shelter, later adopting Jesse as well. For last year's Fur Bowl fundraiser, Barbara and her neighbor Carol organized a bowling team, the "Fearless Felines." Naturally, Carol became the newest member of the Saturday night crew, joining this past October. "Barbara shamed me into it," she says, "and now I love being here." Years before, Carol had volunteered with the PCS Message Center, but she especially likes working directly with the cats. Her own cat Natasha waits at home while Carol is cleaning cages and brushing shelter residents.
The three volunteers name completely different "favorites" among the PCS residents. Barbara likes Cassie and C.C., Carol likes Keisha, Midnight and Megs, and Kathy likes Blazer and Daphne. Kathy notices that the cats' behavior changes as they live at the shelter, with upset cats becoming calmer and timid cats becoming braver. Frequent volunteers are the key to effecting these changes. "Three people per shift offers more time to socialize with the cats," Barbara explains, and less time spent on routine cleaning. The three volunteers are looking forward to a new home for the shelter, with a layout that is easier for toting litter boxes and washing food bowls. Whatever the floor plan, this harmonious team will continue to brighten Saturday nights for all the cats they care for.
Longtime volunteer Cindy Goldman has been involved with the Purr-fect Cat Shelter since 1994 -before there was an actual shelter in which to volunteer. During that year, the Country Gazette announced a meeting for cat lovers interested in starting a no-kill shelter in the Medway area. Intrigued by this, Cindy attended the meeting and recalls that she was "blown away by how organized they were." At the time, Cindy was a CPA working for an accounting firm that encouraged its employees to volunteer their expertise at charities during the slow summer months. Cindy immediately saw that the shelter could use her help to secure its tax-exempt status. Once that was completed, Cindy didn't stop! Two years later, the shelter was preparing for its first residents, and Cindy was there, stripping paint and putting down floors. Once the cats were in their cages and the shelter was ready for adoptions, Cindy joined the cat caregiver team, cleaning cages and grooming resident cats for one or two shifts per week. Her favorite cats from that period included brothers Arlo and Sydney, and the irrepressible Rosie (Miss Rose). She also co-chaired the PCS Yard Sale for two years, an endeavor that required a lot of energy but which has resulted in a successful ongoing fundraiser for the shelter.
Although she has postponed cat care giving as she and her husband raise two young children, Cindy remains active on the shelter's board and in PCS fundraising events. Cindy hopes that when her children are older, they will also be involved with the shelter; already, they attend the PetWalk as a family and have adopted Figaro, a longhaired tuxedo cat, from PCS. Along with Figaro and the four Goldmans, cats Mao and Pebbles round out the busy household.
Cindy sees the Capital Campaign as the biggest need and opportunity for the shelter. With the impending loss of the shelter building in June 2007, this is a chance for the shelter to secure a permanent home through the generosity of its donors and the hard work of its volunteers. Throughout the shelter's growth, Cindy has been continually amazed at the dedication, organization, and focus of PCS, and she knows that this crossroads will mobilize those strengths anew. "Don't get discouraged [by the persistence of feline homelessness]," Cindy says. "Over time, I've seen that the shelter really makes a difference in the community."
Her name is well-known around the Purr-fect Cat Shelter, yet she's rarely seen in person. Her handiwork graces everyshelter cage and accompanies every adopted feline to his new home, but she has never met any of the cats who benefit from her generosity. Why is one of the shelter's longtime volunteers so elusive? "Well, I'm allergic to cats," Judy Ross admits. "I've never been to the shelter." Instead, Judy has crafted over 450 colorful cage quilts as permanent and comfortable beds that belong to each shelter resident. She was inspired by an article in the Spring 2002 ASPCA Animal Watch newsletter that detailed cage comforters made by New York's Compassionate Action Institute (http://pleasebekind.com). The shelters that received the comforters reported that cats and dogs looked much cuter and more relaxed on their colorful pads, instead of huddling in shredded newspaper, and adoptions increased as a result. Adopted animals also benefited from having a familiar blanket in their new homes. With this project in mind, Judy contacted area shelters, asking if they would be interested in receiving cage quilts. PCS was the only shelter to reply, and received their quilt prototype from Judy in April of 2002.
The quilts are made of tightly-woven 100% cotton for softness and durability, and are stuffed with layers of polyester quilt batting. Judy's first quilts were hand-tied, as bed-sized quilts often are, but she switched to machine-quilting to keep the layers of batting from bunching in the washing machine. They are sized to fit in the shelter's cages and often feature different fabrics on each side, or crazy-quilt patchwork on the top. "The patchwork ones are the most fun to make," Judy says, "but they're also time-consuming. When the shelter tells me that they need more quilts, I usually make ten or twenty at a time, using a rotary cutter and a self-healing mat to cut them quickly." Because the quilts accompany adopted cats to their new homes, there is a steady need for new quilts. Judy also donates her quilts for sale at PCS functions, such as the PetWalk.
When she's not quilting for animals, Judy occasionally quilts for friends and family while her Cairn terrier Chaunzie (pronounced "Shawn-zee") keeps her company. Chaunzie was owned by an elderly French-Canadian woman whose family gave Chaunzie to a Cairn terrier rescue organization when her owner died; several Cairn terrier rescues have been part of Judy's household over the years. In addition to helping animals, Judy also helps the teaching profession by using her experience as an elementary science specialist to train other teachers. With all this generosity, is there anything that Judy needs in return? "Let readers know that I always appreciate donations of smooth cotton fabric - without loops that will catch in cats' claws – and polyester quilt batting of any thickness. It's fun for me to see the fabric that others donate, and for the donors to see their fabric in a finished quilt." Please call the PCS Message Center at 508-533-5855 to find out where to donate your quilt materials. Thank you, Judy, for your inspiration and your hard work!
Catherine Williams first contacted Purr-fect Cat Shelter over seven years ago, when a stray cat was hanging around her Franklin home and she was unable to take him in. The shelter had room to take him, for which Catherine was very glad. Years passed, Catherine retired, and she found herself looking for a new activity. This time, Catherine was able to come to PCS's rescue, and she has been indulging her longtime love and concern for animals at the shelter for the past two years. "I take care of cats one shift per week," she explains, "cleaning cages, grooming and feeding them, and giving them attention."
When asked to name some of her favorite shelter residents, Catherine says that "every one has something special about them." However, Blazer, a handsome orange tiger male, comes to mind immediately. "He's feisty, intelligent, and always doing something new," Catherine says. "My biggest challenge is how to get him back in his cage after I've cleaned it!" Daphne and Abby, two shy and sweet sisters, and Blondie (the last of the famous cats rescued from a Bellingham attic) are also some of her shelter favorites. However, there's no room for more felines at Catherine's house, where she is the loving parent of C.C., a former PCS resident, and Fawn, a Siamese that once belonged to Catherine's brother. "They tolerate each other," Catherine reports, "and I think they now approach each other as if it's a game. Sometimes I'll even find them on the same couch -not together, but one on each end."
Catherine puts out a plea for more volunteers at the shelter. Foremost in her mind is the good feeling she gets from volunteering at PCS, because helping animals is her passion. If she could do more, she would, but babysitting grandchildren is also part of Catherine's busy retirement!
We are fortunate to have Catherine as a steady and committed volunteer. Thank you, Catherine.
Terri Prairie is a Franklin resident and stay-at-home mom who has been volunteering with PCS for more than three years, but has never worked directly in the shelter. Instead, she has been providing foster care in her home and involving her entire family in the process. "This is a great thing," Terri says. "I don't understand why other volunteers don't do it!" Terri found her niche when she heard that the shelter was looking for foster homes. Terri had recently lost two cats and knew that her young family wasn't ready to adopt again, but she missed having cats in the house. Fostering was an ideal way to enjoy feline companionship without making a long-term commitment to another cat. Since then, the Prairie family has fostered more than 52 cats and kittens, each of which has a place of honor in a photo album of foster cats. The fostering process has been wonderful for Terri's sons Jeremy, Ryan, and Travis. "The kids get the excited feeling of having a new pet all the time," Terri explains, and they all assist her with cat care, although they prefer play and socialization! However, young Travis has become very adept at helping. "He's been a big help, because sometimes you need more than one pair of hands," Terri says. Travis has also proudly brought the foster photo album to Show & Tell at his school. After work, Terri's husband Scott enjoys giving the foster cats and kittens lots of attention and playtime.
Most litters of kittens stay with the Prairie family until they are 8 weeks old before entering the shelter for adoption, although each situation varies. The Prairies may foster mothers with kittens that are nursing, or they may have litters of kittens that are independent and old enough to eat kitten food. The biggest group they've ever fostered has been a mother cat with seven kittens. When asked about the space commitment, Terri explains that she has a heated mudroom with a child safety gate on the doorway leading into the house. The floor is easy to sweep and clean, and as the kittens become older, they are litterbox-trained and able to climb the safety gate, which is Terri's signal that they are ready to live in the house with the rest of the family. Daily care that Terri provides includes feeding, scooping the litterbox once or twice a day, giving medications if needed, keeping an eye on spay/neuter incisions and social play time.
Terri and her family have also fostered adult cats who are in need of a place to stay before entering the shelter. They may have a medical issue that needs monitoring or they may need to be evaluated for personality. One of Terri's favorites was Leroy, a young, lovable 17-pound cat. Terri was tempted to take him herself. In the meantime, she's looking forward to her next litter of kittens, combining fun, family, and hard work in the process of giving them their first real home.
In February 2003, the Milford Daily News ran an article on the Purr-fect Cat Shelter and reached Joanne Odabachi at just the right time. Previously a Framingham resident and a volunteer with a local humane society, Joanne had moved to Franklin and was interested in working with animals again. Cats seemed to be a perfect fit, and so she began an epic commitment to the shelter which has encompassed hundreds of hours of caregiving.
Joanne admits that she wasn't a "cat person" from the start. She had always had dogs in her household, but began taking care of her aunt's three cats and found that she had an affinity for them. Now she has one PCS adoptee (Softie) and two PCS foster cats. One foster cat is the famous Miss Rose, a full-figured, marmalade-colored shorthair. Miss Rose had spent several years at PCS before developing hyperthyroidism, which often occurs in older cats. Given her needs for medication and a supportive environment, it was time to find Miss Rose a home. "I had recently lost my cat Solomon," Joanne says, "and I thought I should help care for another cat." Thus Miss Rose found a loving foster mom and two feline companions whose company she enjoys. Her other companion, in addition to Softie, is Luna, a PCS Persian who was treated for mammary tumors. Luna had been given a clean bill of health after her surgery and through PCS foster care Luna found her way to Joanne's house.
When she's not taking care of her own cats, Joanne spends three nights per week on caretaking at the shelter, keeping an eye out for favorites Jesse (who looks like Softie), Smokey, and Schmooky. She also participates in the Rabies Clinic, Yard Sale, Bake Sale, Fur Bowl and PetWalk! It's no wonder that she sees the need for volunteers as the number one priority for the shelter at this time. Joanne says she has "learned a lot" at the shelter while enjoying the company of good people and cats. We enjoy your company, too! Thank you, Joanne.
For volunteer JoEllen Lambert, it's all about the cats. Ever since a friend told her about the Purr-fect Cat Shelter a little less than three years ago, she has been active in caretaking, foster care, and, most recently, adoptions. "I started out cleaning cages," JoEllen explains, "and I learned from Sandi DiGirolamo when I began to do adoptions."
As an adoption counselor, JoEllen feels a special bond with the long-term residents in the shelter, particularly those whose charms are not immediately evident to potential adoptive parents. During the past year, she has also fostered numerous cats and kittens, welcoming a new cat or cats into her home "every month or so." These cats often need socializing or medical treatment that is not available with the part-time coverage at the shelter. JoEllen's current guests, Fiona and Apple, are older kittens and part of a litter that received computer industry-related names.
They've found a friend in JoEllen's youngest cat, Simon, who was once a PCS foster cat himself and who serves as a friendly mentor to foster cats in JoEllen's care. "He really loves it," JoEllen reports. Add four other Lambert cats, a dog, and three children to the mix, and you'll realize that JoEllen is a busy woman! In the midst of all this activity, she maintains a view of the big picture. Pet overpopulation continues to be a significant problem, although PCS is making inroads locally with their adoptions and feral cat spay/neuter programs.
JoEllen hopes that entire communities will eventually see the effectiveness and importance of the work that no-kill shelters do. Until then, she's glad to contribute in her own community
When her cat Stilson went missing on his first birthday, Rosemary Suty made the rounds of local shelters to find him. He didn't appear - at least, not right away - but after attending a meeting of the newly-formed Purr-fect Cat Shelter, Rosemary found the ideal volunteer opportunity. Since the beginning, she's been a caregiver at the shelter, working one or more days per week and taking on extra shifts around the holidays. Rosemary especially enjoys seeing Mocha and Ebony when she visits, and she loves Miss Rose, who has entered foster care after several years in the shelter. Rosemary's long-term volunteering has benefited her as well as the shelter. Her experience as a cat caregiver was valuable background when she was hired at the Wellesley-Natick Veterinary Hospital four years ago, and she feels lucky to work there as a full-time animal caregiver and receptionist, "because I love animals."
Rosemary's love of cats in particular goes far beyond PCS and her career - six formerly stray or feral cats live with her and her longtime boyfriend in Medway. She also feeds and cares for a feral colony of 8 to 12 cats who visit her yard from a neighboring farm. Although her boyfriend is not wild about cats, "even he's liked certain ones - although he won't admit it." With Gulliver, Foxxi, Dulcy, Tyrone, Tank, and Stilson around the house, he's had to get accustomed to constant cat companionship! Speaking of Stilson...what happened to him? "I was working at the shelter one Christmas Eve," Rosemary recalls, "and I turned around to see Stilson, six months after he disappeared!" It was a happy reunion for both that Christmas.
Volunteer Louise Kennedy's concern for cats extends far beyond the three purebred Siamese that share her home. Over the past four years, she's donated her time and considerable talent for the benefit of many Purr-fect Cat Shelter residents. Louise initially contacted PCS about volunteering directly with cats, but was not immediately able to be a cat caregiver. She started by making chocolate cat pops, assisting at bake sales and rabies clinics, and eventually taking on the newsletter mailing. Louise thought her experience with mass mailings in the Public Relations department at Dean College would make the newsletter mailing an easy task, but she was overwhelmed by the U.S. Postal Service's specifications for zip codes and mailing areas. "The first mailing took me two weeks to put together!" Louise recalls. "Now a friend helps, and it takes 30 hours." That alone would be enough donated time for your average volunteer, but Louise went one step further. She now volunteers as a cat caregiver. She visits the shelter one evening per week, for two or more hours, to clean cages and socialize with shelter residents.
"It's not always easy to go over right after work, but it's rewarding," she says. Louise points out that there is often a shortage of cat caregivers, particularly during the summer vacation season, and that can make cleaning shifts last longer. However, Louise enjoys talking to the cats, and believes that they recognize her voice with its combination of French and Canadian accents. "In a former life, I must have been related to Doctor Doolittle, because I like to talk to the cats so much."
Louise moved from Canada to Franklin thirty years ago and has two married children and two young grandchildren (with another expected soon). She's engaged to a "very special" man who also happens to assist her with the shelter newsletter (another PCS volunteer in the making?). If there weren't so many youngsters and felines in her life, Louise would adopt Mocha, a long-time PCS resident who seeks a quiet, cat-free home. "Mocha is a good girl," Louise says. "She just needs her own place." However, until Mocha finds her new human companion, she can look forward to Louise's weekly visits and her caring attention. Thank you, Louise!
Janet Waldron had been volunteering on the PCS Message Center team for just a few months before she offered her computer skills to the Adopt-A-Cage program, and she's now in her fourth year of orchestrating this massive mailing effort. Every month, the 80 program participants receive pictures of new cage residents and updates on their contributions. In addition to her full-time job as a scientist in the Diagnostics Division at Bayer Healthcare, Janet picks up information on new cats and cage changes from the shelter, makes mailing labels for Adopt-A-Cage recipients, and stuffs all the envelopes monthly. And you thought sending Christmas cards was difficult!
Janet believes that "cats and dogs both have their benefits," and she shares her home with two English Cocker Spaniels, Toby and Jasper, as well as Chelsea the cat and Nibbles the gerbil. Her two children, Heather and Eric, are supportive of her PCS volunteering and walk the PetWalk every year with their mom. Janet is always rooting for the PCS cats who have spent many months in the shelter, such as Milo, who was adopted this year, and Miss Rose, who's still waiting for a home. She's also partial to cats who look like her own Chelsea, although she has her hands full with the many four-footed friends in her household. PCS's biggest long-term need is a permanent, larger shelter, and Janet hopes that will become feasible in the future. In the meantime, Janet will be typing, sealing envelopes, and sending cute cat pictures to many happy recipients.
Christine DesLauriers is a four-year volunteer who found her caretaking niche after reading a PCS "Pet of the Week" article in the Country Gazette. Often cleaning cages one or two weekends a month, Christine is also a message center volunteer and has worked on the Pet Walk and bake sales. Lady (now adopted) and Miss Rose are two of her shelter favorites, but Christine has a particular place in her heart for her own feline, Putter, who is 15 years old and has Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Putter came to her at age five, a former "indoor-outdoor" cat who had been declawed and who may have contracted the virus through a fight with another cat. He seemed to be in perfect health, but had "horrible mouth odor," Christine recalls, and after examinations by two different veterinarians, he was finally tested for FIV, a virus that suppresses the immune system of the cat and makes him or her more susceptible to infections. "If he's kept indoors and his health is properly managed, he'll live a normal life," the veterinarian reassured Christine, and his advancing age is proof. "I encourage people not to be afraid to adopt an FIV-positive cat," she says. "He has not had any medical problems related to his FIV status." Like many cats who are not FIV-positive, Putter has regular dental cleanings and is not allowed to go outside. Two years ago, he developed renal failure due to old age, but it was not a side-effect of FIV infection; infusions of fluids have kept Putter's kidney function under control. If he were younger, another FIV-positive cat would make an excellent companion, but Putter is entertained enough by Christine's five-year-old son, who is "very good with him."
Christine, a social worker by profession, is attuned to the desperation of message center callers who are running out of options for their cats. She hopes an endowment, bequest or grant will enable PCS to build a larger shelter in the future. Until then, she does her own part in many different areas of the shelter. Thank you, Christine!
Ann D'Agostino is a five-year PCS veteran who has been involved in many shelter activities. Ann came to PCS after the loss of her 16-year-old feline companion. Not yet ready to welcome another cat into her heart and home, but wanting to be involved with cat care, she began volunteering as a Saturday morning cat caregiver. She is also a message center volunteer, a position which rotates every eight weeks, and has participated in a Pet Walk and a rabies clinic in the past.
Ann is married and has three daughters; the eldest, Melanie, is a former PCS volunteer and has just adopted two PCS cats. Ann herself is no slouch in the pet department; she shares her Franklin home with a dog, two cats, and a PCS foster cat. One of her adopted felines is a former PCS resident, Terry, who was found in Franklin and brought to the shelter as a kitten. He's now a "real lap-cat" and soaks up all the attention he can get. The foster cat, on the other hand, is one of the kittens found crowded in a Bellingham attic with many other cats. Although this is Ann's first experience as a PCS foster parent, she has already ushered two of the three kittens she was given to permanent homes and reports that the remaining youngster is almost ready for adoption and is "much friendlier now - you can brush him and pet him" where he wouldn't tolerate it before.
When asked about shelter favorites, she mentions residents Kane and Jingles but notes that there's always a new cat who catches her eye. If PCS had the opportunity and the funding, Ann would like to see a larger facility that could care for more cats. During her message center rotations, Ann finds that many desperate callers have stray or unwanted cats that they want to place in a shelter, but can't find a facility anywhere with space to accept them. If the shelter had a bit more room, it could mean all the difference to the cat in question -- and to the caller at the end of his rope. Ann thinks the care that PCS provides its residents is great, and we're sure that if the cats could speak, they'd turn right around and thank Ann for the time and dedication she has shown. Thank you, Ann!