get on board with what we are doing.”
Donna explains that the many ways in which animals become endangered; whether it is abandonment by dumping them along the side of the road, or simply moving out of an apartment and leaving the animal behind. Sometimes the animal is poisoned.
“It really leaves a bitter taste in your mouth,” says Donna. “You don’t realize how many animals are dumped, abused or left behind. That is why we decided to do this and create the 501c3.”
The two women have help from others as well -Lisa Benkowski, Val Zearfoss are just two of them but Donna says it is easy to get overwhelmed. She points out that there are only so many each of the volunteers can bring into their own homes. That is why she and Brenda are hoping to one day purchase or have someone donate a few acres to house the animals they trap and spay/neuter, so the animals can live out their lives in safety and relative comfort.
“That’s our biggest goal,” relates Donna. “To get all these feral cats in one area so they aren’t in danger and not a nuisance to neighbors. They can have a warm place in the winter and a cool place in the summer. They’ll be in an enclosure so nobody can bother them.”
Donna and Brenda don’t just trap felines for spaying and neutering. They also use their expertise to trap lost or runaway animals, and have rescued cats from some pretty incredible situations. One cat was lost during a car accident on Route 309 while her owners were on the way to Illinois. Donna was able to trap the cat and met her owner in Columbus, Ohio to make the return. Currently, they are looking for two cats, Blackie and Haley.
“We hear of lost kittens and we try to help find them or set a trap to monitor the area,” she says. “You can’t just put out food, you have to trap them. Usually a lost cat will hang around in the area they went missing for a long time.”
Blackie went missing on September 17 from the Dorrance rest area off I-81 when her owners, Nancy and Dave Merrick of Muncy, stopped to rest on their way to Maine. Blackie jumped out and hasn’t been seen since.
“Blackie has been missing for about four months and that is the longest we’ve ever had a cat missing,” notes Donna. “We have walked through woods and power lines, put up flyers, knocked on doors, posted on social media. So far, no Blackie.”
Donna did, however, trap nine
black cats in the process, two of which are living with her now.
I think he’s out there,” remarks Donna. “We’re hoping he found a farm and he’s warm and safe and fed. We’re not giving up hope.”
Haley’s story is similar. She ran off while her owners were at the Pilot station in Dupont. Donna shares that returning lost cats to their owners is easily the most rewarding experience of all the work she does. She ads that the despite the name, the rescue will help any animal in need, not just cats.
“Dogs, birds, chinchillas -we don’t leave any animal behind,” emphasizes Donna.
One can hear the anger in her voice when explaining the importance of the work that Whisker’s World does.
“These cats are domesticated –we bred them for OUR purposes,” she explains. “It is a struggle for them to survive outside, and when a cat is dumped off, their chances are slim. They don’t have the ability to regulate their body temperature in these cold temps. People think they can just dump them anytime they want and they are getting away with it.”
The demand is great, and the cost is just as great. Whisker’s World hosts several fundraisers per year to offset the cost of spaying or neutering close to 30 cats per week. One is coming up on February 18 at Rodano’s in downtown Wilkes-Barre. All you can eat pizza, stromboli and beer for $20 per person. The fundraiser not only helps the vet bills for Whiskers World, but also goes to help families spay and neuter their own pets in the event they cannot afford to.
Donna points out, “Our money only goes so far. Last year we did spay and neutered 1500 cats. We always say we are going to slow down in the winter but we haven’t yet. You just hope you are making a difference.”
In observance of “Change A Pet’s Life” Day, consider donating your time, money or materiel to Whisker’s World. Better yet, adopting one of their placements. For more information, you can find them on facebook at “Whiskers World”.