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WAIF seeks funds for South Whidbey Cat Adoption Center

Leslie's 10-year-old cat was killed by a coyote. This is a common incident on South Whidbey, so the Freeland woman swore off pets for good; that is until she passed by the front window of Whidbey Animal Improvement Foundation's cat adoption center in Freeland recently.

Two adult, orange cats, brothers, described by a WAIF volunteer as being "closer than two peas in a pod" caught Leslie's eye.

She visited the pair and the six other cats waiting for adoption at the center in the Mutiny Bay Building on Main Street for a couple of weeks before finally adopting the orange tabbys.

Another Freeland resident was a frequent visitor to the adoption center because her husband was allergic to cats. Having grown up with pet cats, she missed having them so she got her "cat fix" by visiting the center.

Much to the disappointment of these two women, the adoption center closed in November 2001. But the center might come back to Freeland, albeit in a new location. WAIF is now seeking funds from grants and donations to build such a center in its thrift store at Harbor Mall in Freeland, similar to one in Oak Harbor that houses eight to 12 cats at a time.

Dave Bockman, operations manager for WAIF, said his organization needs a center in Freeland.

"Cat adoption centers are very important to WAIF and the community," he said. "They enable us to bring the cats closer to those who cannot get to the shelter and also give (time with cats to) those who cannot have pets at all."

Freeland's previous CAC was in a space donated by Richard Whittick, owner of Cotswold's Collectibles and a former WAIF board member. He said he plans to help WAIF underwrite a new spot.

"We built a little space in front of our building, WAIF was there for several years but last year we expanded our retail toy business into the space," said Whittick, a former WAIF board member.

Bockman estimates the cost of remodeling a space in the Freeland thrift store for cats will be about $2,500 for design and material. He expects all the labor to be volunteer.

Adoption rates vary from the shelter in Coupeville and the CAC. During March, 25 cats were adopted from the shelter and eight at Oak Harbor CAC. In 2001, 56 cats were adopted at the Freeland CAC and 62 cats were adopted at the Oak Harbor CAC.

Getting cats and dogs adopted is not cheap. WAIF's projected budget for 2002 is $330,000. About two-thirds of that money comes from the organization's thrift stores. The cost of shelter operations in 2001 was $148,928.

WAIF was founded in 1990 and assumed management of the Whidbey Island Animal Shelter in Coupeville in 1997. Island County supports the maintenance of dogs for a five-day period as required by county ordinance. No county ordinance covers cat maintenance. WAIF provides care for dogs beyond the 5-day period and provides all care relating to cats. WAIF accepts all stray animals from Island County.

WAIF operates a minimum kill shelter south of Coupeville, a thrift store in Freeland and a thrift store in Oak Harbor that houses a CAC.

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