Group looks to save homeless kittens
By Hal Conick, firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Charles Republican
Posted Mar 31, 2010 @ 07:46 AM
St. Charles, IL —
Staff photo by Steve Bittinger Geneva resident Gail Sullivan, with the group Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets, bottle feeds one of six rescued kittens she is caring for in her home.
When Gail Sullivan moved to the Tri-Cities a decade ago, she knew she wanted to get involved with a rescue group.
“I worked with a rescue group in Texas before I moved here,” said Sullivan, now a Geneva resident. “I actually walked into a PetSmart (in the area) and someone had dumped a box of kittens there. There was no place for them. I said ‘Well, maybe my husband will let me (take care of them).’”
After finding the litter, Sullivan linked up with Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets, a St. Charles volunteer-based nonprofit organization that strives to find homes for dogs and cats of all ages.
Through HELP, the animals live in a volunteer’s home being nursed until they are ready to be adopted.
Sullivan is volunteering to bottle-feed kittens. Sullivan, who has five cats of her own, is fostering six kittens and estimates she has cared for as many as 600 kittens throughout her years of involvement.
“I’ve had as many as 22 kittens at one time right before Christmas,” Sullivan said. “They were all adopted within a week. ... It was crazy.”
WHAT Event to promote cat adoption
WHERE National City Bank, 2600 E. Main St., St. Charles
WHEN 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 10
FEES $150 for kittens 6 months and younger, $125 for cats ages 6 months to 6 years old, and $75 for cats older than 6; $25 fee for people 60 and older adopting cats older than 1
HOW TO HELP To volunteer as a bottle-feeder, call Sue at (630) 208-8630
Taking care of the baby cats includes bottle-feeding them every two to three hours, including at night, making them go to the bathroom and making sure they stay healthy and clean. Sullivan said her dog Sparky even started to help by licking the kittens to clean them and letting them lie beside him to keep warm.
“I just keep a lot of litter boxes,” Sullivan said. “I just have to keep up with them religiously.”
Becky Grim, who works with HELP as a veterinary intake coordinator, said HELP has taken in 300 to 400 kittens in the past year and has been able to find most cats homes fairly quickly.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s making a dent (in the homeless and feral cat population), but eventually it has to,” said Grim, who also works as a veterinary technician at the St. Charles Veterinary Clinic.
“I think we have a pretty good success rate.”
Sue Ryan, who co-coordinates the bottle-feeding program, has been working with HELP for 18 years. Ryan said the group wouldn’t be able to do what it does without the help of veterinary clinics — such as the SCVC, Gateway Veterinary Clinic in St. Charles, and Valley Animal Hospital in Geneva — which all donate time, and give shots and neuter pets at a discounted rate.
As for bottle-feeding, Ryan said it’s a difficult job, but HELP is lucky to have about seven volunteers who lend a hand.
“It’s a lot of work to take care of that many animals,” Ryan said. “Gail has six and she’s up at least twice during the night to feed them, but her kids still have to be taken care of, she still has a job. Everybody has other things going on in their lives. It’s a lot, but somebody has to do it.”
Marty Strauss, who works as the business manager for the SCVC, said HELP provides an opportunity to give animals a home who otherwise might not have one.
“With any animal, we want to feel that it’s given the nourishment it needs and a safe place to live,” Strauss said. “I think it’s really important.”
Sullivan said one of the most rewarding parts of the job is keeping up with all of the kittens she helped bring up.
“I get Christmas cards occasionally. I had someone call me just a month ago saying how much they loved their 10-year-old schnauzer. ... I have another lady who got six kittens, she calls me every year on their birthday,” Sullivan said. “It’s a vested thing. I’m watching these guys leave my house, and I want to know where they’re going.”
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