Karen Merrow’s passion for rescuing and re-homing cats and kittens started with a single feline that was surrendered to a local veterinarian over nine years ago.
“We helped that cat and then there was another one right behind it that needed help. From there we began taking in more and more,” said Merrow, a volunteer with Happy Tails Pet Rescue in Hudson, NH.
Shelly Lheureux, the founder of Happy Tails Pet Rescue, and Merrow, both life-long lovers of animals, never planned for Happy Tails Pet Rescue to grow into an organization with a cage-free shelter in Hudson, NH and several adoption centers in local pet stores throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts, but the need for people to step in and take care of these animals was all too real.
“Over the years, I would estimate our organization has saved over 3,000 animals—cats, dogs and other small animals. We currently average about 200-300 cats saved per year. Some stay with us as little as a week and others stay for a lifetime,” said Merrow.
Local shelters and Humane Societies are consistently at full capacity so the need is always there; as soon as one animal is delivered to a new home, there are many more waiting in line to take its place.
Merrow says that “the number of animals in need of re-homing or medical care can astound the average person. The most surprising thing is how many people feel animals are disposable or that it is OK to just abandon them or treat them terribly. Animals are living, breathing, feeling beings and deserve better. Thankfully, the majority of surrendered animals are for a legitimate reason—such as financial challenges or the well-being of the animal.”
Spring is often one of the busiest times of year at Happy Tails Pet Rescue as well, since this period is typically referred to as “kitten season.” While cats have kittens year-round, there is greater need in the Spring. When mothers are rescued with their litters, they’re often malnourished, infested fleas and other parasites, and sometimes unable to care for their kittens properly. The need for human intervention is then required to help fix any health issues kittens may have due to these poor conditions.
“We typically take in and adopt out at least 20-30 kittens between March and June. This year we already have three litters in foster care,” said Merrow.
It doesn’t come cheap. The cost of getting a healthy kitten ready for adoption is over $100, and that’s assuming there are no other vet bills involved. Kittens found without a mother require around-the-clock care and additional medical treatments.
Luckily, Merrow and her host of dedicated volunteers are adept at caring for and adopting out cats to the homes they’re most likely to thrive in, based on their feline personalities.
“The cat (or animal) chooses the human. Many prospective adopters come in to see one cat and another one steals their heart. It happens all the time! We tell people to have patience…the right animal will find you, wherever they are!”
Merrow likes to share a word of advice for anyone seeking to adopt a pet: “Go in with an open mind.”
“You may have been attracted to one particular color, gender, etc. however the purr-fect cat for you may not fit that mold you have created in your mind. Be open to all the animals, regardless of looks. Search for an animal based on personality traits as opposed to physicality,” said Merrow.
The need to rescue these unfortunate felines is a calling that unites everyone who volunteers at Happy Tails Pet Rescue.
“Our volunteers are like family to us, and we love these animals as much as our own. We laugh together at the crazy antics of the kittens and cry together when we lose one that we just couldn’t save no matter how hard we tried,” said Merrow.
Happy Tails Pet Rescue hosts monthly events at Petco in Nashua, NH, and quarterly at Petsmart in Chelmsford and Everett, MA. Visit their Facebook page for a schedule of events. Donations are greatly appreciated and can be accepted via PayPal though their website at: www.happytailspetrescue.org.