Northern Berkshire Cat Rescue has been caring for feral cats and rescuing strays for adoption, like Izzy, above, and the very photogenic Leo, at right left. Find more cats in need of homes on the group's Facebook page.
ADAMS, Mass. — With the demolition of Albert's Hardware, a group of residents banded together to help save dozens of cats living there. After successfully trapping, treating and adopting those felines, they felt there were more areas in town where they could help the cat population.
"We decided we just can't stop there. There are a lot of cats in Adams," Carrie Loholdt, who turned the project into a branch of her New England Great Dane Rescue non-profit. "I am amazed to see the group of cat people that are helping out."
Northern Berkshire Cat Rescue is a group of volunteers consisting of Loholdt, Caroline Scully, Kaila Drosehn, Paula Orlando, Jen Blair, Yvette Bernardara and AnnMarie Belmonte that is trapping stray and feral cats throughout town.
The cats are then transported to Loholdt's property and from there, with the help of animal shelters and veterinarian Keith Beebe at Wahconah Veterinary Hospital, they are being spayed or neutered, cared for and adopted.
"He takes us whenever we need it. We just go there and he helps us," Loholdt said of Beebe.
The group identifies problem areas, such as a section of Summer Street where in just one weekend they trapped 14 stray animals, as well as field reports from residents. Being the town's animal control officer, many people in Adams have learned to contact Loholdt for situations.
"Animal control officers don't typically deal with cats because there are so many of them. Now, the police know I do so they call me," Loholdt said.
The group is also helping with animal cruelty cases. Loholdt said she recently pulled three cats from a building that was so infested with fleas that two other kittens had died. The volunteers took care of the cats and they are ready to be adopted.
Since the June project at Albert's Hardware, the group has trapped and helped more than 50 cats. However, they are limited on how many they can help — currently eight at a time — because of space. Loholdt said the group is hoping to find more foster families.
Fosters would keep a cat for a couple of months until it can be adopted. One foster is the pet store Bark N' Cat on Holden Street in North Adams, which takes in one cat at a time at the store.
"The more fosters we have, the more we can help," Loholdt said. "If we have more spots, we can take in more animals."
The rescue group is in need of donations to help defray costs; it's also partnered with other organizations to provide food for pet owners in need.
The group is getting better at systemizing the way it helps cats and hopes to expand the reach even farther. Loholdt wants to teach volunteers in other towns so they can help their own stray cats.
"We would love to figure out how to do this fluidly and help other towns," she said.
The group has also lent its support to a food drive. Loholdt's New England Great Dane Rescue, the Northern Berkshire Cat Rescue and the Adams Friends of Animals are pushing for donations of food and supplies to give to pet owners in need.
The groups are collecting donations at the Redemption Center.
"It's getting really tough this time of the year," Loholdt said. "The economy is killing people and the animals are suffering."
With more and more pet owners struggling, the group is now making a push to collect food. Currently, those on the list for help are only allowed to get a bag of food "once in a while" but the three groups hope to provide more.
Members are also looking for help in applying for grants. Anyone wishing to donate their grant-writing skills should contact Kaila Drosehn at Kailaskritterkare@yahoo.com.
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