P.A.W.S. saves feline lives

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Region - posted Wed., May. 1, 2013
Ginger, the one cat that, during more than two years of volunteering for P.A.W.S., volunteer Frank Cornell was unable to give up. Photo by Frank Cornell. - Contributed Photo

There is lots of activity at the P.A.W.S. (Pound Animals are WorthSaving, Inc.) facility in Woodstock. P.A.W.S. began when a woman and her husband went to the Lebanon Pound to adopt a dog. The woman's trip to the pound introduced her to animal control officer Michele Kellough (now the animal control officer in Norwich), and to the overwhelming need that existed for help with homeless cats.

P.A.W.S. was incorporated as a 501(c)3 organization in 2005. From the beginning, the Lebanon Veterinary Hospital provided invaluable support. Dr. Steven Zickmann inherited the rescue when he took over the practice from the retiring Dr. Baldwin, and continues to help out.

Since the rescue has moved into a space next door to the Windy Acres Florist in Woodstock, Dr. Suzette Ward from the Woodstock Veterinary Hospital has also been helping out. Volunteers helped to complete renovations to the space. The shelter can accommodate 60 cats, and it is always very close to that number. It also relies heavily on foster homes to take in pregnant cats, moms with kittens and orphan kittens.

Last year, P.A.W.S. completed 490 adoptions and took in more than 600 cats and kittens. At the present time, there are 16 moms with babies, 78 kittens and six pregnant cats in their care.

P.A.W.S. also receives support from Joan Lamont from C.A.T.S. Northeast out of Mansfield, which provides low-cost spay and neuter assistance. Lamont was instrumental in getting town-wide ordinances passed in Mansfield and Windham, which require pet owners to spay or neuter their cats before they reach six months of age.

Among the greatest needs for P.A.W.S. is financial assistance. Cat food and litter, which we are able to get from wholesale sources, is around $1,500 a month, rent, utilities and supplies are close to $2,000 a month and the veterinary bills often exceed that amount. Donations are always welcome, especially of canned food, dish detergent, Magic Erasers, cat beds and baskets, scratching posts, toys and Petco gift cards.

Another major need is for volunteers who can come to the shelter on a regular schedule.

Among the dedicated P.A.W.S. volunteers is Scotland resident Nancy Grist. “I have been volunteering for almost two years with my 12-year-old daughters,” she said.  “We got involved through a friend who was volunteering at P.A.W.S.” Grist and her girls both foster and help with adoption events. “I really enjoy doing the adoption events,” she said. “I think our work is important because we are getting many cats that have been abandoned or abused adopted into some great homes.  We are also strongly working to get people to spay and neuter their cats.” 

Grist said that a few of her fosters have been impossible to let go. An extremely timid pregnant mom stayed behind after her babies were adopted out. Grist had her spayed and brought her back home.  “It has taken her almost a year to finally get comfortable at my house and come out from under the bed,” said Grist.  “She is now part of our family and we love her.”

Lebanon resident Frank Cornell and his wife got involved with P.A.W.S. after a trip to the Lebanon Pound two and a half years ago. “My wife and I had gone over to see if a missing cat had been turned in,” said Cornell. “I had retired a few months before, and we filled out an application,” said Cornell. “Before we knew it, we were fostering a mother cat and three kittens.”

What has kept them involved is “the need for foster homes, the delight of having kittens around, and the thrill of seeing them being adopted to loving ‘furever’ homes,” said Cornell. “P.A.W.S. really fills a need, saving and grooming homeless cats and kittens and giving them a second chance to become cherished pets.”

Out of the 55 cats and kittens that have passed through their home, “We have adopted one,” said Cornell, “a cat that came to us from animal control with five kittens. I think I knew at first sight, that this stunning cat was going to stay. We call her Ginger.” 

The Gentile family, from Hebron, adopted two kittens last year. “P.A.W.S. had many cats who needed homes and we found two amazing kittens who were siblings,” said Ashley.  Pajamas, a sickly male kitten, touched Ashley’s heart. “I just knew when I saw Pajamas he was the one because I wanted to care for him and make him well,” she said. Ashley and her sister Amanda renamed the kittens Butterscotch and Cupcake. “They have really changed our lives by coming home every day to these adorable cats that are so playful and loving,” said Ashley.

“It has been a great experience adopting from P.A.W.S. and we would encourage  anyone thinking of getting a cat/kitten to consider this shelter,” added mom Brenda.

PAWS is located next door to Windy Acres Florist at 244 Route 171 in Woodstock. For more information, go to http://www.woodstockcats.org or call 860-480-1104. Some of their adoptable cats and kittens are also
online on Petfinder at http://www.petfinder.com/pet-search?shelter_id=CT480&sort=identifier.

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