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According to Sacramento-based artist Maren Conrad, everyone’s got something to give their local shelter or rescue, and it doesn’t have to be money. When Jennifer Fearing, deputy director of policy and programs for The HSUS, told Conrad about some of the challenges facing Napa County Animal Shelter, she knew she wanted to help.
Fearing told the artist the shelter does incredible work, but sits in a nondescript building and has trouble getting noticed. “I’m definitely an animal lover,” says Conrad. “I thought something I could do to contribute would be to make a large piece of art” to help attract potential adopters.
Shelter employees loved the idea, and provided the artist with some inspiration—the story of Mercy, a special bully-breed dog surrendered to the shelter when his owner lost his job and could no longer afford to keep him. Six months later, when the man had found gainful employment and a new place to live, he returned to the shelter, hoping to adopt another friend. To his shock, his old pal was still there, and the pair was happily reunited. Shelter staff still had a picture of Mercy, who became Conrad’s subject.
The movie theater next to the shelter gets lots of traffic, and figuring people usually go to the movies at night, Conrad decided to use reflective paints so that headlights would illuminate the sign. She presented the resulting masterpiece—a 6-by-4-foot painting—to the shelter in January, along with a high-quality digital photo of the work. She gave the shelter rights to the image so it has the option to use it on shelter merchandise in the future.
Conrad hopes others are inspired by her contribution to use their own talents to help shelter pets. “I’ve done a lot of commission pieces,” she says, “but [it] was fun to be able to do something out of love and kindness.”
Pop-up Shop Sparks Fur-enzy
Care for a cappuccino and a calico? Purina One and the North Shore Animal League of Port Washington, N.Y., teamed up on an unusual undertaking aimed at purr-suading some of New York’s coffee drinkers to adopt shelter cats. Capitalizing on the popularity of pop-up shops—stores that open for limited periods of time—the organizations opened a temporary cat café to showcase adoptable cats and educate shoppers about feline health.
News of Cat Café spread like wildfire over social media, sparking cat lovers to descend en masse. The scene outside the shop, which was located in New York City’s Bowery neighborhood, looked more like the queue for the latest iPhone as the line of people waiting to enter the café snaked around the block. According to CNN, by noon on the shop’s opening day, more than 3,000 mentions of the café had appeared on Twitter. For those outside New York, or who just weren’t able to convince their bosses to let them wait in line for hours to cuddle kitties, Purina One hosted a live stream of the café on its website.
The shop, which was open April 24-27, was basically a four-day adoption event. It also hosted talks about cat behavior and feline health.
Though attention grabbing, the concept isn’t a new one; permanent cat cafés have long been popular in Japan, the United Kingdom and throughout Europe. Expect to see more tea-and-tortie-type ventures. A cat café opened in January in Montreal (Café Chat l’Heureux, which means “happy”), and plans are in the works for several cat cafes (with playful names including KitTea and Catfe) to open this year in California.
At Rainbow’s End
Some people spend their whole lives working for good. Young Sarah Jayne Orton was one of them.
Sarah’s exceptional love of animals permeated her short life.
For her fifth birthday, Sarah asked that instead of presents, people make donations to the Baltimore Humane Society (BHS)—the local shelter from which her family had adopted their beloved dog, Scooter. Sadly, Sarah passed away suddenly last October, just a few months after that birthday.
Though she wasn’t in this world long, Sarah managed to leave behind a legacy of kindness toward animals. Her family created the Sarah Jane Orton Memorial Foundation to commemorate her life and raise money to support the work of the BHS. On May 17, close to what would have been Sarah’s sixth birthday, the family held a memorial walk (dogs included, of course) in Finksburg, Md. The roughly 100 participants raised nearly $4,000 for the shelter.
Visit BHS and you’ll find another reminder of Sarah. The brightly colored mural on the outside of the shelter’s kennel facility—featuring happy animals frolicking under a rainbow—now includes a plaque honoring Sarah. Wendy Goldband, director of marketing and public relations for the shelter, says it’s the perfect spot because the mural was painted by children, and because Sarah proclaimed her favorite color to be “rainbow.” The plaque was dedicated at a special ceremony in February.
“This is a tragic story, but her family was able to turn their sad story into something good by helping countless animals in need of care,” says Goldband. “This little girl’s life will have a lasting impact on so many others.”
When Cox Communications employees opened a box filled with fiberglass equipment in April, it’s tough to say who was more surprised—them or the two tiny kittens they found mewling back at them. The Chula Vista, Calif., crew was shocked when they found the newborn kittens in a routine package that had just arrived via semi-truck from the company’s Los Angeles office.
In an odd stroke of luck, one of the employees has a nephew who is an investigator with the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA (SDHS), which happens to have one of the only 24-hour kitten nurseries in the country. The weak, starving kittens, so young they still had their umbilical cords attached, were whisked off to the shelter.
According to Kelli Schry, a spokeswoman for SDHS, shelter staff think that the kittens’ mother was likely trying to find a safe place for them, and that’s how they ended up in the box. Though the teeny cats struggled during their first few weeks at the shelter, Schry says now the pair—named Mouse and Wifi—“are doing great.” They were still in the nursery as of mid-June rather than foster care because they’ve been a bit slow to gain weight, but Schry said that should soon change. “They have been nicknamed ‘little piglets’ because they love to eat!” she reports.
Schry says Mouse and Wifi are sweet, loving and have gotten “quite good at posing for the camera.” Shelter staff are hoping to find someone willing to adopt both of them because the special pair has been through quite a journey and deserves to stay together.
After the story aired on local news, SDHS had so many inquiries about the kittens that it created a special page on its website, along with a Facebook photo album, to provide updates.