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Animal Planet’s next cat hero could be from Whidbey

Linda Fauth is nominated for Animal Planet’s Cat Hero Of The Year. People can still vote for her online.    - Jan Bell photo
Linda Fauth is nominated for Animal Planet’s Cat Hero Of The Year. People can still vote for her online.
— image credit: Jan Bell photo

A hero is among us. A cat hero, that is.

Langley resident Linda Fauth is a longtime animal advocate on Whidbey Island and was instrumental in getting Whidbey Animals Improvement Foundation’s spray-and-neuter clinic up and running in its early days.

Her dedication has been rewarded.

Fauth was named one of

10 nationwide finalists for Animal Planet’s Cat Hero of the Year. And with a little help from islanders, she may just become the leader of the pack.

People can cast their vote on Animal Planet’s Web site at http://animal.discovery.com/convergence/hero_of_the_year/2008/cat-nominees/linda-fauth.html.

Voting ends Oct. 13.

Fauth is humble about the recognition, despite the fact that she was chosen from among hundreds of nominees to be a finalist.

“I think the real hero is Mary Jo (Adams) for nominating me. It’s not about me being a hero, but all the people I work with,” she said. “It’s about a team.”

Fauth became part of that team in 1992 as a volunteer.

“I used to drive by the animal shelter and cry and I thought, ‘You’re not doing anybody a favor by being such a wuss. Go do something,’” Fauth recalled.

Many services that are today part of WAIF standard programs were started by Fauth and other local volunteers.

A few years ago, with Fauth’s leadership and encouragement, WAIF made the decision that no animal would be adopted from its facilities that had not been spayed or neutered.

“I took myself back to college to get my licensed veterinary technician degree and start the spay/neuter clinic,” she said.

Fauth planned, organized and built the operating room and the prep and recovery area. She has overseen and managed the surgical program ever since, scheduling teams of veterinarians and volunteer assistants, and she has personally assisted with many of the surgeries.

Fauth became a paid employee of WAIF to make sure that the veterinary technician position became a budget item, but she donates all her salary back to WAIF.

Because of her, thousands of Whidbey Island cats and dogs have been safely altered, including many feral cats, said Mary Jo Adams, who nominated Fauth for the Animal Planet honor.

“Linda Fauth is truly a friend and advocate for animals, and not just cats,” Adams said. “Her vision, leadership, knowledge and hard work have had a real impact on the way homeless animals are cared for on Whidbey Island.”

Adams added that Fauth has been an inspiration to her, and Fauth is never too busy to help an animal in need.

“About a year ago, Linda fell and broke her hip, requiring hip replacement surgery,” Adams said. “As soon as she was back on her feet, Linda was back at the shelter and working in the spay/neuter clinic, limping a bit but as enthusiastic as ever.”

“When it comes to caring for the animals of Whidbey Island, Linda Fauth is an example of the kind of person we should all aspire to be,” Adams said.

But Fauth said her work is no biggie and is rewarded in many ways. The relationship between people and animals is a two-way street, she said.

“I would say today it’s just really hard, because of economic times. Animals are the first thing to get dumped,” Fauth said.

She encourages everyone who has the time and space to adopt one of the many furry friends waiting at WAIF for a new family.

“I have plenty of WAIF animals at home, four cats and two dogs,” she said. “I learn stuff from them each and every day. They have great lessons for life.”

The cat hero award will consist of a $5,000 donation made to the animal welfare organization of the winner’s choice. The entrant who nominated the cat-hero award recipient will receive a $1,000 prize to be awarded in the form of a check. But Adams said she would donate the prize to WAIF, too.

To find out if Fauth wins, watch Animal Planet Heroes on Animal Planet at 10 p.m. Dec. 4.

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