Motivation of Animal Lovers

The fashionably-dressed lady in her short skirt and designer purse walked in, looking out of place at the city shelter. “Could I help you?” the animal control officer politely said and she replied in a slightly supercilious matter that she was looking for a small dog, preferably a shih-tzu. “We don’t really receive many of those,” he replied, “but you’re welcome to look.” She strolled toward the kennels in her designer heels and a volunteer helping clean the cat kennels just shook her head, thinking of the latest trend of “purse dogs.”

Then, a middle-aged woman arrived with her teenage daughter, and they were looking for a big fluffy cat, like the one they had so many years ago. Nope, no cute fluffy cat presented itself, just some unappealing black and tabby strays, some of who piped up and meowed. After some oohing and awing, the potential cat adopters ultimately left.

Contrast this with the area rescuer, who came in and overlooked the cute calico kitten romping around, but focused on the terrified grey cat huddling in the corner in her litterbox. She started asking questions about how long the cat had been there and how she arrived. She snapped a few photos and started networking in the rescue groups she knew of, while mentally calculating whether her household could take in another foster.

Who is the true animal lover?

Tabby cat at shelter

We are all on a continuum in terms of our empathy for animals and our awareness of animal issues. We evolve as we learn and understand what their plight is around us.

So is adopting a pet about you (how it will enhance your image) or is it about them (helping the animals who come to you and need help)? There is nothing wrong about having personal preferences, but what many of us recognize is that such longings are a luxury when it will mean some animals will perish and die as strays for lack of homes. It’s why you will see bumper stickers that say “Adopt, don’t shop”. It’s a tragedy that there are so many puppymills churning out puppies in inhumane conditions when so many strays need homes.While it’s true that everyone has their preference with animals (I’m partial to big orange kitties), it’s not the adoptable cats and dogs that attract me. It’s the ones who likely will be overlooked by most people and are vulnerable in the shelter system.

As Albert Schweitzer said: “Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.”

Abandoned trailer cats

PCAWL is aware of the situation at the Huffman trailer park. We have contacted the Missouri Humane Society as well as other organizations. We will be consulting with them and continuing to search for resources to help alleviate the ongoing situation.

However, we as a community cannot expect outside groups to come in and solve the problem. PCAWL is willing to assess the situation and has permission to trap the cats in the trailer park. We do not have the resources needed to mount a large-scale cat rescue operation. The Rolla Animal Shelter, Tri-County Humane Society, and PCAWL do not have the space to house large numbers of cats and cannot house feral cats.

This is a community problem, and it requires a community solution. PCAWL may be able to get some of the feral cats into a sanctuary, but that solution requires money, including funds for vetting and spaying/neutering the cats before they go to the sanctuary. Even if other rescues could take some of the friendly cats, they often want only cats that have been vetted as well. Otherwise, we will need homes locally for the cats, particularly barn homes for the feral cats and semi-feral cats.

If you are willing to house some of these cats, please let us know. Or, if you would like to donate funds to help us try to get some of them into sanctuaries or rescues, we will be setting up an online funding site at, as well as accepting donations by mail at PCAWL, PO Box 1981, Rolla, MO 65402.

With the support of the Rolla community PCAWL will do everything within its power to alleviate the suffering of the cats in this situation. We need you. Please donate your time or funds to helping us find homes for all of these displaced cats. We can’t do this without your help!

Saving Mia

On Wednesday afternoon May 21st, 2014 I got a call from Kym McNulty, PCAWL’s extraordinary Trap/Neuter/Release specialist. She asked if I could pick up a newborn kitten from John at the Rolla Shelter and take it to someone who said they could foster it. “Where are you calling from?” I asked. “I’m in New Jersey,” was the answer. “Don’t ask,” she implored me.

An hour later I had formula and bottles in hand, and met John for the handover. He gave me the carrier with a tiny ball of fluff inside, mewing loudly I might add, and down the road I went. Soon I was at the home of Sarah Knorr, a lovely young woman, the mother of four little girls playing in the yard. I gave her the kitten, and she took it from me with an air of confidence and a gracious smile. If the tables were turned, I would not have felt too sure of anything–especially my capability as a surrogate mother for a tiny kitten who’s eyes were not yet open.

A few days later I got a call from Sarah. Mia (the name she chose for the little female) had not pooped thus far, and she was concerned. I agreed to take her to Dr. Janke’s that very day. Dr. Janke did a thorough examination, and after proclaiming her “a cute little thing,” sent me off with medicine and instructions. I gave her back to a worried Sarah, and we all waited with bated breath to see if Mia would have a movement.. (Kym’s breath was bated all the way up in New Jersey.) The next day I got a call from Sarah, who joyfully reported success at last. We all breathed a collective sigh of relief. Sarah’s exact words at the time were, “Yea! Mia—we’ve got poop!”

Fast forward a few weeks, and Mia is now a healthy, happy kitten. Sarah and family have decided to adopt her. My first question to her was “why?” ” Why did you take on the responsibility of feeding and caring for a kitten who needed to be bottle fed every two to three hours day and night?” Sarah’s answer, not surprisingly was “love.” I’ve always loved animals, and I recently met Kym, who told me about PCAWL (Phelps County Animal Welfare League). She informed me of the terrible plight of feral cats in our area.” The Knorr’s have several feral cats living on their property, so it was no shock to learn of this widespread problem. Three have been neutered, and two more still need to be fixed. They have gone to Protect Every Pet which is located in Bland. PEP performs the spaying and neutering at no cost for feral cats, and at a reduced cost for other cats. Mia will be spayed as soon as she is old enough so that she will not add to the misery and suffering caused by overpopulation of the species.

When I asked Sarah if she would recommend fostering, her answer was a resounding “yes.” It feels so good to care for a helpless little animal and see your efforts rewarded as it grows and thrives.” Sarah weighed Mia every day on a digital kitchen scale, and every ounce of weight she put on told her that Mia was that much closer to “making it.” “Saving a life feels great.” Sarah says with a smile.

When asked about Mia’s emerging personality, Sarah laughed and told about the Lady and the Tramp incident. One night not too long ago while thunderstorms raged outside, Mia mewed pitifully outside Sarah’s bedroom door. She scooped her up and put her in bed with her daughter. This was not good enough for Mia, however. She kept crying and meowing until finally Sarah could take no more. She scooped Mia up and allowed to sleep with her and her husband. Now every night, Mia sleeps curled around Sarah’s head.

Asked if she is willing to foster in the future, she is quick to say “yes.” “I will only take one kitten at a time if it needs to be bottle fed, though. It’s just too hard to juggle my job as a mom and homemaker with more than one kitten.” The family takes Mia with them sometimes. She is a beloved member of the Knoor family, albeit the tiniest one—weighing in at just around two pounds, five ounces.

Sarah is a lifelong learner, and her main interest is animals. She spends a lot of time on the computer learning about everything from how to diagnose a medical condition to kitten care and pet grooming. The family lives in a rural part of Phelps County, and they recently updated their computer service with Wave Internet, which Sarah describes as “good, affordable internet service.” She hopes to one day become a veterinary assistant. But right now, she’s happy to be the saver of one little precious life at a time. Mia says “meow” to that.

by Debby Dunstedter, copied with permission from:

Summerfest 2014

Stopping by Summerfest? Come visit our booth! Why do we have a booth at most events in town? Honestly, many of our volunteers already have busy lives, with full-time jobs and family obligations. Booth at Summerfest

We do it primarily to raise awareness:

  • of animal welfare issues in the community
  • of our organization and our purpose
  • of community resources
  • of general issues (through selling items such as spay/neuter magnets)

A secondary purpose is of a fundraiser, which will sometimes yield a few hundred dollars in sales and donations (on a good day).

We enjoy meeting other people in the community who are pet owners or concerned about animal issues in the county. So if you are at Summerfest, please consider stopping by and saying “Hi” to the volunteer in the booth.

Also, a shout-out to the organizer of Summerfest, Dawn Smith at Central Federal Savings & Loan, who does a great job year after year!

Campaign for orphaned puppies

Imagine 8 puppies and a mother dog being dumped in a box on the side of the road. Now imagine a truck coming toward them. Tragic scenes like this happen every day to abandoned animals and unfortunately occurred on March 10th, 2014, resulting in the death of a mother dog and her 6 puppies. But two puppies survived and PCAWL has embarked on a campaign to raise funds for them. Read more about the puppies’ story and how you can help on this site. And please help or spread the word!

Lost Your Pet?

Losing a pet can be very traumatic for pet owners. It’s a big, sometimes dangerous world out there and pets can escape from the house or yard despite your best intentions. While heartwarming reunions do happen, the reverse is also a possibility too, in which the pet doesn’t survive or seemingly disappears, never to be seen again. But you can take action in the form of the steps below to increase the chances of getting your pet back. Your pet is counting on you to do all you can to find them!

What do you do first? Search around your house or where the pet escaped. Cats, in particular, often stay close to home and may be hunkering down in a hiding place, scared. Ask neighbors and place flyers around your neighborhood. If there is a sighting of your pet, you might consider leaving food out for them.

Second: go visit the shelter IN PERSON to see if your lost pet is there within a day or two. Do not just call and rely on giving a description. Shelter staff do their best, but shelters are often a busy environment, with phones manned by various volunteers and lots of activity. It can also be difficult to tell, say, one lost beagle from another. If your dog or cat is at the shelter and passes the stray hold period, then by law the shelter can legally adopt them out. If this happens, you may never know or see your pet again. Animal shelters in Phelps County, Missouri include Rolla Animal Shelter and Tri-County Humane Society (St. James).

Third, make flyers with photos and descriptions of your pet. If you need help with this, consider asking a friend or neighbor. Take these flyers to area shelters (which often have bulletin boards) plus other places nearby where your pet is missing as well as vet clinics.

Fourth, post a photo of your missing dog in online forums, such as Rollanet or Facebook. The Rolla Daily News will also run an ad for free. A photo is worth a thousand words and you never know who has seen your dog or cat and may be able to provide crucial information.

Finally, be sure to search the “Found” sections of Rollanet or the classifieds to see if anyone is advertising your dog as found.

As an added precaution before their pet goes missing, every pet owner should consider the following:

  1. An  identification tag can ensure that your lost pet is quickly reunited with you.
  2. Microchips have also been responsible for some amazing reunions years later
  3. Have a current photo of your pet just in case.

Helping Stray Animals

If you find a stray animal in Phelps County, it can be challenging to find a good placement for the stray, as many of our members know from personal experience. Area shelters are often full, especially during the spring and summer. While we wish we could help everyone who contacts us, PCAWL itself has very few foster homes and our funds are also limited.  Phelps County is sorely in need of widespread spaying and neutering to reduce the overpopulation, but that’s a subject for another post.

We do have a webpage of tips if you find a stray. If you can keep the dog or cat for awhile, PCAWL can courtesy post the animal in a variety of venues, such as our Facebook page or Petfinder. Many times this added publicity helps get the animal adopted. We do ask that the adopter screen the home as carefully as possible and also strongly recommend that the animal is spayed or neutered so they don’t in turn contribute to the stray population.

Here’s a note from a grateful rescuer in the community on hearing how happy a family from Kansas City was with their adopted beagle: “Thanks for posting her on Petfinder!  This is why we do what we do!  :-)”

Thank you to all the Good Samaritans out there!

Good Samaritan Spay/Neuter Program

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free. Perhaps a shelter’s motto could be: give me your homeless, your unwanted, your strays yearning for a home. Shelters are full of the beseeching eyes, whether they be whining pups, meowing kittens, or older animals, not understanding how they ended up in a cage. These are the lucky ones who have a second chance, whose story may still end in a happy ending of a good home.

That happy ending can often be in jeopardy for vulnerable animals. Those who huddle in a corner of their kennel, scared or unsocialized. Or those that exhibit too rambunctious behavior. PCAWL seeks to boost the adoptability of these animals by offering a free spay or neuter for some of them. Thanks to a generous supporter who donated the seed funds to start this Good Samaritan Spay/Neuter Program.

The free spay/neuter for this month is for Tabby, a nice female cat in the shelter. Unfortunately, it is kitten season, which means that adult cats have a more difficult time getting adopted with cute kittens also needing homes. Please spread the word so we can help Tabby get a good home! Tabby the cat