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Caroline's Kids Pet Rescue
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pet projects are not cheap
as seen in the News Herald article written by Jenny May on 8/27/2006.
Perched in the windows of their sanctuary in Newbury Township and enjoying the summer breeze, the 135 cats living at Caroline's Kids Pet Rescue appear not to have a care in the world.
That's the goal of the shelter, which cares for elderly, sick and injured cats, Director Judy Brown said.
But the cost of saving the cats and providing them with a good life is high - $600 a day, to be exact.
In a typical month, the cats consume 1,104 cans of wet food and 340 pounds of dry food, and go through 2,400 pounds of litter.
It takes 150 rolls of paper towels and 16 gallons of bleach per month to clean up after the felines.
Add to that veterinarian costs, utilities and repairs, and it's easy to see how the shelter has acquired debt.
"Everyone thinks we are staffed entirely by volunteers and we get everything donated," Brown said. "People don't think about all the things like the food, the litter, vet expenses and utilities."
Caroline's Kids is not alone in its dilemma.
With no government funding, and donations not meeting the cost of animal care, shelters are often left scrambling to make ends meet each month.
Sharon Harvey, executive director of Geauga County Humane Society's Rescue Village, finds that people are often under the impression that animal shelters receive government funding.
Municipal and county animal control facilities, such as the dog warden's office, typically receive some funding through dog licensing fees.
That's not so for humane societies or shelters such as Caroline's Kids Pet Rescue.
"There's a lot of confusion," Harvey said. "Especially when people hear the word 'county' in a name, they assume the county helps fund it, and their tax dollars are funding it. We try to educate them that we exist purely on the generosity of those committed to saving animals."
Grants for the operation of shelters are scarce.
"I have a file full of grant rejection letters," Brown said, noting that grants are typically only given for pieces of medical equipment.
Most grants for equipment are also matching grants, meaning the shelter has to come up with half the money, Brown said.
A similar pile of rejection letters sits at the Cleveland Animal Protective League.
"We have not been successful obtaining grants for operations," said Judy Hunter, director of development for the Cleveland APL.
The Cleveland APL, which took in 11,000 animals in 2005, received 8,400 donations last year. It took $2.9 million to operate the shelter in 2005.
Hunter said, "8,400 sounds like a lot of donations, but many of those were only for $1 or $2. That's all some people can afford."
Shelter officials are often forced to tap into their creative sides in order to raise operating funds.
The Cleveland APL hosts the black tie "Furr Ball" dinner each October and recently paired up with WQAL for a two-day radiothon promoting the shelter's animals.
Caroline's Kids Pet Rescue holds an annual book sale, garage sale and dinner with a Chinese auction.
The shelter also holds the Tree of Love ceremony in December, where people can donate money to have an ornament placed on a Christmas tree at Christmas Card Lane in Willoughby Hills, in honor or memory of a pet.
The Lake County Humane Society has its annual "Mutt Strut," in which animal lovers can register to walk either their own dog or a shelter dog.
At Rescue Village, the annual "Empty Bowls Sumptuous Soup Supper" helps raise funds. Area artists donate decorated bowls for attendees to take home. The event includes an auction of bowls decorated by celebrities.
Rescue Village also has begun holding an annual "Top Dogs/Cool Cats" dance and a "Woofstock" festival to raise funds.
A couple of staff members at Caroline's Kids have taken courses to learn how to do blood work and vaccinations on the cats, avoiding costly trips to the vet.
"It helps to do in-house blood work so we don't have to pay a vet for that," Brown said.
"Especially with so many special-needs cats."
Although most shelters charge a fee of between $55 and $100 for adopting an animal, the fee usually does not cover what has been spent to spay or neuter and vaccinate it.
"What you're spending is so much cheaper than if you got an animal for free through an ad or somewhere and went to the vet for those things," said Candace Hertzel, executive director of the Lake County Humane Society.
The importance of volunteers
Volunteers are perhaps one of the most important elements in the survival of shelters.
The Cleveland APL has 55 full-time employees and 466 volunteers.
"Volunteers can do anything they know how to do," Hunter said.
That means everything from answering phones to paperwork to cleaning out cages and walking dogs.
Brown said her shelter is greatly assisted by the 15 volunteers who come in to help when their schedules permit.
"One of the most important elements of the shelter is volunteers who come help feed, change litter and pet the cats," Brown said. "Also the volunteers who help with fund-raisers. The shelter can't run without the help of volunteers."
About 40 volunteers come to the Lake County Humane Society regularly to help walk dogs, play with the animals and clean, Hertzel said.
Rescue Village has one of the largest groups of volunteers, with 200 coming in regularly to help out and 100 more assisting with fund-raisers.
"In 2005, we calculated that our volunteers put in about 16,017 hours, which was equivalent to eight full-time employees," Harvey said.
For shelters such as Caroline's Kids, where there is a no-kill policy and adoptions are fewer due to the cats' special needs, it can be difficult to continue taking in cats with little funding to care for them or expand the shelter.
"People say, 'Why do you put money into it?' " Brown said. "I say, 'Well, they are lives, and lives are valuable. Would you want to just be thrown out when you get sick and old?' "
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