Saving Those Left Behind

When Joe Smith, owner of Joe’s Junk Removal and More, responded to a recent call to clear out the home of an elderly woman who had passed away, he was in for a big surprise when he arrived at the house.

The residence, which he had expected to find empty, was occupied by the woman’s 15 cats. “I was shocked,” Joe recalls. While the cats had been brought food on an ongoing basis by individuals, they were alone in the home.

“I knew these cats needed homes after losing their caretaker,” Joe says, “so I called my friend Jennifer and she said ‘Yeah, I’ll take it on.’”

Joe’s friend Jennifer Ornelli is familiar with cat rescue work and agreed to help. With her years of experience, she knew this effort would be a significant challenge and would probably involve splitting the cats into separate smaller groups destined for different rescue organizations. “When I got the call, I didn’t know what I was going to do,” she confesses. “So I relied on social media, which works well for me. After I posted about the cats, everyone was commenting and mentioning Dakin repeatedly, and saying that I should go there, but I had never worked with them before.”

She was pleasantly surprised and stunned to hear that all 15 cats would be admitted to Dakin. Joe and Jennifer lost no time rounding up borrowed carriers for the transport and enlisted the help of a couple of their friends to help gather up the cats and get them into individual carriers.

On March 23, the intake room at Dakin’s Springfield Animal Resource Center was quiet but intense as staff members assessed each of the cats, taking them one at a time from their carriers while offering calm and gentle reassurances. Some showed signs of upper respiratory infections and other health issues, and a couple of them had badly matted coats.

Dakin’s Media & Development Specialist Lee Chambers witnessed the intake. “It was a bit overwhelming to me to see so many cats who needed help coming in at once,” she said. “Some had obvious things wrong with them like running eyes or URI and I couldn't help but feel emotionally moved by the extreme care and patience that was being exhibited to these frightened cats who had just lost their long-time family member.

Dakin’s staff fast-tracked the kitties that needed medical attention and quickly evaluated the others.

According to Madeline, An Animal Resource Counselor, “Not many shelters can do what Dakin can, and many would have turned Joe and Jennifer away because they had so many cats in need. Taking on these fifteen cats was a challenge we stood ready to accept. We have a great team and facility here at Dakin, and I’m really glad to be part of it to see moments like this happen.”

Relieved to see the cats in Dakin’s care, Joe says “I wish a lot more places were like Dakin, so many animals would be that much safer."

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