What makes an animal rescue volunteer? Shelly from Chico Cat Coalition shares her thoughts!
As one of our most dedicated volunteers said, “Volunteering at an animal shelter isn’t like picking up litter, or participating in a bike ride. Those are very worthwhile events, and we are lucky that people are there to do those things…but with animals, once you look into their eyes, you’re done. You’re hooked. There’s no going back.”
Anyone who has spent any time at an animal shelter knows what she means. Animal shelter volunteers are an amazing group of people. Talk about being invested in your volunteer work – once you look into the eyes of a cat who is stray, feral, ill, injured, needs a home, needs YOUR HELP, you’re all in. Black cats are no exception,
I volunteer at the Chico Cat Coalition, a non-profit, no-kill cat shelter in the northern California town of Chico. We came into existence in 1997 to rescue cats from Bidwell Park, a very large municipal park which had become the dumping ground for unloved, no-longer-wanted cats. The feral and stray population was growing out of control. A small group of cat lovers went to the park daily to feed the ever-growing cat colonies; while this kept the cats fed, it created other problems as well – it was drawing neighborhood cats to the park, the food would become bug-infested, and as word got around that the cats in the park were being fed, more and more cats were dumped.
The cats were suffering, the bird/small animal population was suffering, and the city of Chico was being harmed. The City Council passed a law banning the feeding of stray cats in Bidwell Park. It was now illegal to help the abandoned, starving feral cats in the park stay alive. A small group of unbelievably dedicated volunteers decided this was unacceptable.
Out of this law came something wonderful – the foundation of the Chico Cat Coalition. These volunteers banded together their own resources, time, know-how, cat food, cat traps, and set about rescuing every last one of the feral and stray cats from Bidwell Park. The City of Chico very wisely decided that this was a worthy pursuit, and eventually gave funding to the CCC. The funding from the City of Chico has since ended, but the Chico Cat Coalition lives on.
Now, 15 years later, nearly 1,000 cats have been rescued from Bidwell Park. Nearly 700 have been adopted out, and the feral cats will live out their lives at our sanctuary. It has NOT been easy, as anyone with knowledge of running an animal shelter can tell you.
It can be difficult to adopt out cats…especially adult cats…and especially, black cats. We currently have approximately 10 short-haired black cats at our sanctuary, waiting for their forever homes. But until those homes come, our dedicated group of volunteers will be there every day with food, health care, and love. Because we are hooked!