Wednesday, April 11, 2012

*Rescue cats in need of rescue

4-16-12 Wonderful news!  All have been rescued!!Rescue cats in need of rescue About to close their doors, CLAWS needs to place *180 cats(*40 have been rescuedBy Ashley CLOUTIER

AUGUSTA — Located at 28 Pelletown Road in Augusta, CLAWS Animal Shelter is home to 180 cats — for now.
As of April 15, CLAWS will close their doors due to pressure from officials and health code violations. CLAWS founder and Laurie Walsh, 50, said “The County Board of Healthy and the NJSPCA say we aren’t complying with safety regulations because we don’t have concrete walls and floors. How are you supposed to put concrete walls onto a wooden frame? It just isn’t possible.”
CLAWS started when Walsh, working in Sussex Borough at the time, saw the number of stray cats around. Some were hurt, pregnant or injured, and Walsh knew she couldn’t continue to let them live on
the street. She and her husband took them in and started running a shelter out of their home.
In 2004 the house that CLAWS is currently located in was discovered. “I responded to an NJSPCA call,” Walsh said with an ironic laugh. “I went to this house and it was completely boarded up and abandoned. There were hundreds of cats left inside to fend for themselves.”

She rescued them all, saved what she could, and inquired about the property. Today the shelter, surviving solely on donations and money from Walsh’s own pocket, is run by Walsh, her daughter Kelly Tracy, 19, and Laurie Moore, 60.  Too many cats, too few people
Every cat in the shelter is up to date on their shots, has been vaccinated, checked for worms and feline leukemia, and most have been spayed or neutered. For the few cats that have not yet been fixed, a low-cost option is provided upon adoption.

Still, more cats come in than are taken out and, since May, there has not been enough room to shelter more strays — even though thousands of calls have come in. “There is nowhere for these animals to go. And now that we are being forced to close there really won’t be anywhere for them to go,” Walsh said.

Each cat has their own personality — just like people
Walsh is passionate about the cats. “These cats are all off the streets. All of them came to us in horrible conditions, some close to death, and all of them have become sweet and loving and so, so appreciative. If humans were half as appreciative as these cats are, the world would definitely be a better place.”
The cats’ ages range from 6 months to 6 years. There is Kit, a sweet black cat that will literally climb up a person’s leg in order to perch on a shoulder and nuzzle a neck; Popcorn, a big, orange tabby full of love and affection; three kittens, Moe, Larry, and Curly, and Moose, a 37-pound tabby who likes to lounge in the sun.
More than the cats will be affected
The shelter isn’t just about adoption, but also volunteer opportunities and pet therapy. Girl Scout troops, 4H, Capital Care and Willow Glenn are among those who come to CLAWS to help clean the shelter and to meet and play with the cats. CLAWS is often used for court-ordered community service.
“Where are these people going to go now? We are being treated as criminals instead of as people...and the whole community will be affected. The public is outraged. We didn’t realize just how many people respect what we are doing until (the County Board of Health and the NJSPCA) ordered us to close,” Walsh said.
A plea to the public
Walsh is afraid for the cats' futures. “Time is running out. Is euthanasia really the only answer? We need people to come forward and adopt these animals, or temporarily foster them if adoption isn’t an option.”
CLAWS will supply anyone willing to foster a cat with crates, toys, beds, etc. “We are reaching out to the public now,” said Walsh, “begging them to save these cats and give them a forever home—before it’s too late.”
CLAWS Animal Shelter can be reached at 973-875-8540.

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