Hurricane Irene Takes Out One of Our Own

I’m sure many of you are still cleaning up after Hurricane Irene and/or helping friends/family. Since we don’t have our own land/facility we didn’t have any material loss to worry about. But we did spend a lot of time making sure foster homes were OK. Most were just fine (and all our Karma Cats are safe & dry) – but one volunteer/foster’s home was hit particularly hard.

I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out just what to write about this. And instead of focusing on the damage that the storm did to this home, I’m going to focus on the woman that lives there.

Some of you know her well, some of you have met her at Petsmart on the weekends, and some of you have adopted cats that she rescued and/or fostered. But what many people don’t know about her is that she was an inspirational force behind the start of Karma Cat + Zen Dog. She has been our pet sitter for many years and my husband and I have a close relationship with her. When this organization was just getting started, she was so incredibly excited and energized about it.

This woman introduced me to our amazing Adoption Coordinator who in turn, provided the guidance at the beginning that quickly led to us being in the North Brunswick Petsmart as well as the Edgebrook Adoption Centers. She also asked her friends to make many of the beds and hammocks that we use in the adoption centers and foster homes. She has transported countless cats to the MCSPCA for their spay/neuter surgeries (paying for some of them with her own money), and she introduced me to another woman who exponentially improved the organization’s ability to do TNR work. Without these connections and introductions, this organization would not be where we are after only 1.5 years.

And we are not the only organization that she has helped. She volunteers weekly for another rescue group. She has provided assistance with TNR projects for friends, family, acquaintances and perfect strangers over the years. She has fostered countless cats and kittens – finding homes for them on her own before linking up with an organization. The following is a list of cats that she has rescued/fostered for us: Twiggy, Candy, Mittens, Pepper, Spencer, Parker, Magic, Mystery, Tucker, Trixie, Latte, Woody, Niles, Daphne, Charlee, Caramel, Buttercup, Daisy, Dallas, Austin, Christi, Sherlock, Baker, Rachel, Travis, Brooke and Keller … she also fosters for the Old Bridge Animal Shelter at times. You can imagine how long the list is when you consider all the cats before Karma Cat + Zen Dog came along!!

This woman embodies the true spirit of animal rescue – she always thinks of the furry ones before thinking of herself. She is one of the most caring and giving people that I know. Another volunteer has said that her heartfelt, upbeat attitude is infectious – and her positive attitude has kept that volunteer going when she wanted to quit. She is truly an inspiration to anyone involved in animal rescue. She is often the first person to step up to help out with an animal.

When I stopped by her house today, she was a cheery as ever – a passerby would never have known that this woman’s house just had 3 ft of water in it, effectively ruining most things in its path. They would not know that she had to relocate all her own animals to various friends. They would only see a woman who was smiling brightly and talking about how her old floors weren’t installed correctly and how her old kitchen appliances were starting to act up – this being the perfect opportunity to get things done right. A new hot water heater – yippee, now she can get one of those tankless, solar units that she’s been eyeing! Amazing.

Insurance will hopefully cover the majority of her home rebuilding cost but it will likely not cover the cost of food (people and animal), new clothes, new furniture, etc. So, in the spirit of rescue and community, our volunteers and friends are banding together to provide a little support for her. When I asked what she needed, she replied: cat food and litter!

In the face of adversity and destruction, her first thought was still with her cats.

It’s times like these, people like this, that make you remember life is not about “stuff” … it’s about the experiences, the friends, the beating hearts of furry critters. It’s about giving and not expecting anything in return. It’s about the love we give … and for this woman, the animals that have been saved.

~Christie

  • http://profiles.google.com/christie.arlotta Christie Arlotta

    some have asked if they can help our dear friend. yes, absolutely! right now, it seems that best way would be gift cards to Petsmart, Walmart, Target, Costco or Shop Rite.

    thank you all for your kinds words.

    ~christie

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