Volunteer Profile: Paige Pinney
by Lee Chambers
It isn’t unusual for a Dakin volunteer to love cats. What is unusual is for a volunteer to foster 74 cats in a little over two years, including 33 bottle babies.
A couple years ago, Paige Pinney adopted Rockefeller from Dakin, a Persian with a lot of medical needs. Through caring for that cat, she realized “I can do this” for other cats, and, as she describes it, “I just fell down the rabbit hole” volunteering at Dakin and caring for the neediest of felines.
Her favorite responsibility is fostering “bottle babies,” those tiny orphan kittens who are surrendered without their moms who need almost constant feeding and care. “They are the most needy and we don’t have a lot of fosters who can take the smallest ones,” she explains.
She recalls one particularly challenging litter, nicknamed The Pastas, since each was named after a different type of macaroni. “The Pastas were a long and difficult experience. They were rejected by their mom at birth, so they never got anything from her. I had them from when they were four hours old. They were so sick, picking up every little bug that came their way. Ravioli almost died when they were about four weeks old, but I spent hours getting him back to health, and by some miracle I succeeded. As they reached adoption age, they got healthier and healthier. I cried when it was time to let them go up for adoption, but I knew I needed to in order to save more lives.”
In addition to her duties as a foster, Paige works with the Jackson Galaxy Cat Pawsitive Pro Program, Feline Weight Watchers and in Nick’s Nursery, Dakin’s Kitten Intensive Care Unit. During “kitten season” she logs up to 12 hours a week at the Springfield facility. Paige knows that sometimes volunteering can morph into adopting: “In CPP, I worked with a cat named Fluffy, and was told when I first entered the room that I would fall in love with her. She’s just my type—an old Persian with kidney disease. She was shy, and a bit swatty and bitey. I had multiple breakthroughs with her and was able to get her to take treats, and to play. I just couldn’t get her out of my head, and a week and a half later I decided to adopt her! Since bringing her home she has become the ultimate lap cat, and loves being petted.”
Paige, who never remembers a home without a cat, lives in Chicopee with her Mom, a Dixie Dog she adopted from Dakin, and three Persians with kidney disease, also adopted from Dakin. “I just have a thing for old Persians with kidney disease,” she says.
Asked what she gets from volunteering, Paige says “I love the friends I’ve made, volunteering at Dakin. It’s widened my social circle to include people of different ages and backgrounds. I love knowing I’m making a difference in so many animals’ lives and helping them reach a point where they are ready for adoption.”
Thanks to Marianne Gambaro for contributing this story. Marianne is a published poet and manages her husband Jim's fine art photography business. Learn more about her at margampoetry.wordpress.com