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South Enders scramble to find homes for rescued pets
CLINTON — The search is on for feline foster homes — or maybe something a bit more permanent — for more than a dozen cats that were recently rescued from a north end property that was nearly overrun with animals.
Lyn Jones, a veterinarian who operates Creature Comfort Veterinary Housecalls in Clinton, has been helping care for 19 cats and two dogs that were taken from an Oak Harbor-area residence. With the help of Martha Burdick of Whidbey Cats, a group that arranges off-island spay-neuter operations for pet and feral cats, Jones has been slowly finding new homes for the animals.
“We’re down to 14 today,” Jones said as she looked across a collection of portable pet kennels, each holding one or more cats, at a South Whidbey property.
She paused and stooped down to quickly examine one small cat, who had a perpetually runny nose. “Are you OK, sweetie? Are you snotty again?”
Over there is Samuel E., and there’s Winky, and Iman, and Yoda, and Bill the girl, and Puffy.
“Most of these cats are so doggone sweet; they’re wonderful cats,” Jones said. “A lot of them are really friendly with dogs.”
Jones called Burdick a miracle worker for her ability to convince the Oak Harbor woman to give up the 45 cats and 10 dogs she had on her property.
Burdick wouldn’t call the woman an “animal hoarder,” adding that she really wanted to see the animals get better care.
“She was totally on it, absolutely. That’s whey we got so many. It never would have happened without her cooperation,” Burdick said.
The animals hadn’t been abused, she added, but it was clear that they weren’t pets in the typical sense of the word.
“Some of the dogs appeared to have zero human contact,” Jones said. “I had two of the sweetest dogs here, one of them was still scared silly of people.”
Though one cat had intestinal problems, there were no major medical problems with the rescued animals.
“I thought it was a great case of Darwinism,” Jones said. “The dogs all looked a little thin. And thanks to Martha, almost everybody was already spayed and neutered.”
“The cats all looked pretty good, but they’re very heavy in parasites; every one of them has ear mites. A lot of fleas. They’ve never seen a vaccine.”
Now the quest is to find homes for the animals. The Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation took in five cats and a dog, but Burdick and Jones recounted their difficulty in finding any other shelters on-island and off which could accept such a high number of animals. Most have waiting lists to accept cats, Jones said, because they just don’t have room for more.
There’s also the trouble with the poor economy, Burdick said, which means fewer people are adopting pets and more families are being forced to give up their pets because of financial difficulties.
“All the agencies are pretty much full. They all have wait lists. And they all need to favor their own local pets for admissions,” Jones said. “They only have just so many cages.”
Jones plans to update the website for her veterinarian business, www.creaturecomfortvet.com, and post photos of the cats that need foster or permanent homes. She’s hoping to find people who could take a cat, maybe two, and “give them a little TLC, get to know them a little bit, and hold them in hopes of later adoption.”
The pair would also welcome donations to cover pet food, as well as volunteer assistance in looking after the cats before they are adopted.
Jones and Burdick have been encouraged by the help they’ve gotten so far from others across the island and beyond.
The Healthy Pet, Bayview Farm & Garden, and the Goose Grocery all donated pet food for the animals, and Homeward Pet Adoption Center and Seattle Animal Shelter provided pet carriers and crates.
Jones praised the work of Aubrie Keegan and Shannon Dufour-Martinez, who have volunteered their time to help with hands-on pet care. The Whidbey Island Rescue Fund provided funds to assist with transportation costs for the animals, and Karen Moore, a dog rescuer with The Pet Stops Here, has provided foster housing for the social and not-so-social dogs that were recovered.
Jones said Kim Merritt and her family took over as a foster family for some 10-week-old puppies that came from the Oak Harbor home, and Rachel Donald shuttled dogs to rescue organizations on Vashon Island and in Easton.
Jones said anyone interested in adopting a cat can reach her at 360-321-0545.