A Legacy for Lil Bit
by Lee Chambers
When Jerry Marchand held his beloved feline companion Little Bit as she was dying on July 23, 2010, he made her a promise: “Because of you other kitties will have a chance at living and finding a home.”
As he sat beside a stream behind his vet’s office holding her lifeless body for three hours, he made a commitment to fostering as many kittens and cats as he possibly could. Jerry had found Little Bit abandoned under a trailer 16 years earlier. The kitten was emaciated and near death. He nursed her back to health.
Jerry specializes in taking in the most vulnerable and sickest kittens who come into Dakin – orphaned “bottle babies,” those with severe diarrhea, those who can’t hold down food or put on weight. He hand feeds them, often every couple of hours, and gives them fluids and medications as needed. He even brings his charges with him to his job when necessary for their feeding and medication schedules (thankfully he has an understanding boss).
Although his fosters are separated from Jerry’s own seven cats, once the kittens are healthy and ready for adoption, they are taken out of isolation and put into a room full of toys with Indiana Jones and Bok Choi, two of Jerry’s household members who love to nurture and socialize the kittens.
Bringing his charges full circle, Jerry is also an adoption ambassador which qualifies him to set up matches. This means that for many of his kittens, they go from foster to their forever homes and do not have to see the inside of a cage in between.
Asked what advice he would give to would-be foster volunteers, Jerry says to start with easy cases. “You need to be vigilant constantly, and call staff immediately if anything seems wrong. The vet staff at Dakin is fantastic. It is because of their support I have had so many successful fosters.” Jerry also helps out in Nick’s Nursery, the kitten intensive care unit, where he learns a great deal that helps him care for his fosters.
Jerry describes fostering as exhausting and emotional “but I love it.” Does he have a hard time giving his charges back? “It tears you apart but it is so fulfilling and gratifying, and I know there will always be more that need me.”
In addition to his yeoman work fostering cats, Jerry also does transport for both Dakin and the Thomas J. O’Connor Adoption Center.
And Little Bit? She lives on in the litters of fosters that Jerry cares for and in the song he wrote for her, A Promise Kept, which he performs every July 23.
Thanks to Marianne Gambaro for contributing this story.
April 23-29 is National Volunteer Week. Dakin Humane Society is incredibly grateful to have so many dedicated and hard-working volunteers who help both animals and people through their mighty efforts. Next time you see a volunteer, be sure to let them know how wonderful they are!