Editor’s note: The 2011 Combined Fund Drive campaign runs this year from Oct. 12 through Dec. 2. During that time, UW Today will write about various agencies among the 3,400 that receive assistance from the CFD, or UW employees who help or support these organizations.
Name and UW Job: LaRene Kuller, research scientist in the Primate Diagnostic Services Lab of the Washington National Primate Research Center.
Volunteer Activity: I volunteer with Purrfect Pals as an adoption counselor and at outreach events, and serve on the board of directors.
Organization’s mission: Founded on the belief that every cat matters, Purrfect Pals provides a no-kill sanctuary, foster care and hospice care for homeless cats. The organization works to end overpopulation through humane education, spay/neuter programs and permanent placement in quality homes.
Purrfect Pals provides sanctuary for up to 300 difficult-to-adopt cats, including those with feline immunodeficiency virus and leukemia, older animals, as well as cats with behavior problems. The organization finds permanent homes for 2,000 to 2,500 cats and kittens each year through its adoption process — allowing people to adopt cats directly from the shelter and also through its network of pet store partners and specially scheduled adoption events.
Purrfect Pals maintains an on-site clinic providing low cost spay/neuter services for the public and free spay/neuter services for feral cats.
How long a volunteer for this agency: I have volunteered with Purrfect Pals for seven years now.
Why these activities? After volunteering for Woodland Park Zoo and the Pacific Science Center for several years I wanted to do volunteer work with cats since they are one of my favorite animals. I enjoy educating the public about Purrfect Pals and the importance of spaying/neutering their animals through our outreach events at fairs and festivals. I enjoy finding the perfect match between a new family and a cat/kitten that has been waiting for its forever home.
A memorable experience while volunteering: We had a very shy calico cat come into our shelter, then into a foster home and then her foster mom felt she was ready to go out for adoption. She came into the adoption room at a local store where I was volunteering. She was so scared and shy, but all of the volunteers at the store went out of their way to spend time with her, making her feel comfortable.
One day an older lady came into the store and fell in love with the little calico and the cat with her. This cat really seemed to come out of her shell for this woman. The woman was on a fixed income and couldn’t afford the usual adoption fee. Seeing the interaction between the two of them I knew this was a match made in heaven for both this senior lady and the shy little cat, so I deeply discounted the adoption fee. Seeing the look on the woman’s face when she knew she could take this little cat home was priceless. When I made follow-up phone calls I learned that the shy little cat is no longer shy and will sit on the couch and share yogurt with her new mom — truly a happy ending for both of them.
Satisfaction in volunteering: It feels good to make the right match between a cat and its new family and watching them go off to their new homes, especially those cats who are shy, older, or have special needs. It is wonderful when they finally go home, even if it has taken a couple years for the right person to come along.