I’m not a cat lover, but this is a great story. Two women in Denton County, Texas, have taken over the Texas Siamese Rescue organization. Last year, the group faced possible closure after its founder died, while the 179 cats still awaiting adoption faced animal control intervention and therefore, possible euthanasia.
But then, Tami Manning, who’d volunteered at the rescue for about six years, and her partner, Alisa Lee, stepped in and organized the few volunteers to help care for the cats. “We love this place to work, but it wasn’t our ideal of a home,” Lee said.
Their passion for the cats grew during this last year of balancing the bills between their own incomes and the rescue’s finances.
Texas Siamese Rescue began in 1998, and its volunteers have helped rescue and find homes for nearly 20,000 cats. But, in December 2010, the founder and director became ill and passed away months later, leaving behind a massive debt on the property and the 179 felines.
Lee said she and Manning went through all the rescue’s finances, discovering that $244,000 was due on the 3,500-square-foot house on a ranch in Corinth and that taxes hadn’t been filed since 2000. Luckily, she said, the rescue somehow maintained its 501(c) (3) status.
The owner of the property lives in New York and has agreed to forgive a large portion of the debt, giving the rescue a year to raise $40,000. Lee and Manning have implemented dozens of changes to help meet the deadline, but they said they’re still in need of donations.
The two have overseen the re-branding of the rescue, revamping the logo, reaching out through social media to gain volunteers and adoption interest, and cutting the cost of operations by two-thirds by reducing energy use, switching power companies and using coupons. They even have a volunteer photographer to take professional pictures of the cats, making them look their best for potential adopters.
But perhaps the biggest change they made was an open space for the cats to live and socialize. Instead of cages lining the walls, the rescue has a large room filled with climbing fixtures and cushions so the cats can play and nap peacefully.
Adoption fees range from $75-200, depending on age. Lee has also developed a sponsorship program, starting at $25, for people who want to help with the cost of caring for a cat but can’t take on any more pets at home. The option is popular among children who see the rescue’s cats at adoption fairs and can later go online and see their sponsored cat.
“And they never have to take them home, and we do all the work,” Lee said.
But once a cat is adopted, Lee and Manning’s work doesn’t end. They offer support, training and tips on how to help a new cat adapt and they’ll take a cat back for any reason.
“We support them all the way through to death,” Lee said. “If it’s something I started, I will finish.”
Visit www.Tx.SiameseRescue.org for more information.