People Power: Out of the Trash Can, Into the Clinic
One dumpster-diving cat inspired Kandi Habeb to help thousands
The human population of Parkersburg, W.Va., has declined by nearly 5 percent in the last decade, partially because of plant shutdowns and other economic pressures. The community cat population has gone down at the same time, mostly because of Kandi Habeb.
Habeb, a retired office manager, and her husband were leaving a restaurant in the winter of 2004 when she spotted a cat jumping out of the dumpster carrying a chicken bone. “So, as my husband puts it, I ran home, got several cans of cat food, and back I went,” says Habeb. The next day she returned to feed the cat and found there were four kittens, too. “I knew there were feral cats,” Habeb says, “but I didn’t think we had that many around here. I was just appalled.”
Six months after her dumpster encounter, Habeb founded West Virginia’s first full-service trap-neuter-return service, the Save a Kitty Feral Cat Program. Since then, the group has helped 2,253 cats, providing services from trap loans and caretaker education to spay/neuter.