By: Robin Desmet – Sept. 2016
Oftentimes when I show up at someone’s home to trap their backyard cats, I am by myself. I set up the traps and then spend a few hours getting to know them and explaining what I do. But although I am by myself, I am by no means doing this alone.
First and foremost I have to talk about Julia Pesek, the Community Outreach Coordinator for Nevin’s Farm. She has been with me from the start. Julia and MSPCA volunteer Jennifer Taris met me in a back yard in a Lawrence neighborhood two years ago and taught me how to trap cats. After that first day of training, Julia has been unable to shake me. I call her week after week with all kinds of kitty drama and cat situations. I continue to pester her to this day and she continues to help me.
The next group of people, in what I fondly refer to as my “Cat Club”, is the customers and neighbors that surround my family owned business, Packard Pharmacy, in South Lawrence. These are the people that walk through my door at work and tell me all about the cats in the neighborhood. Some people are feeding the cats and would like me to trap them and get them spayed/neutered. Others want me to trap the cats and get rid of them (I can’t). Others want me to trap the raccoons and get rid of them (I can’t). Others want to help me and they do. They bring me cat food, they bring me animals, they give me donations, and they tell me where the cats are.
Jade Anderson and Jada Ford are two of the neighborhood children that know all about rescuing cats. Jade walked me down an alley and showed me where somebody had dumped a litter of kittens. They were too fast to catch by hand, but were easily caught with traps because they were so hungry. Thanks to Jade, this litter of kittens was saved.
Jada had rescued 3 kittens by herself from under a shed in her neighborhood. Jada and her mother cared for them for weeks until they could be adopted out. Jada sometimes accompanies me on my cat stakeouts. She has learned how to bait and set the traps and helps me carry them to the sites. It’s so nice to see children who are interested in helping the animals and who want to make a difference in the world.
Two other people in my Cat Club are Jennifer Taris, a volunteer at Nevins Farm, and Beverly Surette, an independent trapper and cat expert. Bev has accompanied me on many cat adventures and has given me lots of advice and furthered my education on community cats. She is knowledgeable with cat trapping, cat care, and cat handling and I have learned a lot from her. Jennifer is my original teacher who does all different types of volunteer jobs at Nevin’s Farm and still finds the time to trap cats and mentor me. Jenn works tirelessly on behalf of the animals. She is articulate and knowledgeable and is a pleasure to work with.
Kelly Garon joined my cat club the day I went to check a trap and had accidentally trapped an opossum and not a cat. She is quite handy with a pair of pliers and she was able to free the opossum who had managed to wedge its teeth in so tightly that even when I opened both ends of the trap it was unable to get out. No animals were harmed in this incident. Since then, Kelly and her boyfriend Aidan Shea have become quite a team and are quite adept at bottle feeding and caring for newborn kittens. Kelly and Aidan raised and adopted the very first rescue kitten that came through my door and their work continues today.
Lastly, I need to talk about the many caring and compassionate individuals who are providing food, water, and shelter to the community cats. These are the people who are helping the cats on a daily basis and the people I meet with every week. Together we are working hard to help the animals and to reduce overpopulation and suffering with TNR (by trapping, neutering, and returning feral cats to their natural habitat). No one person is responsible for making a difference in the lives of these cats. We are all making a difference and we are doing it together.
For Questions: Please E-mail me at: Robinjd@comcast.net.