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News / Life / Pets & Wildlife

Donations pour in for Thurston County animal shelter after huge cat rescue

By Martín Bilbao, The Olympian
Published: May 15, 2023, 6:40pm

OLYMPIA — Donations poured in after Joint Animal Services rescued over 100 cats from a Thurston County property on April 26, but shelter capacity remains strained.

Field Service Officers rescued an additional 12 cats since last week, bringing the total to 159 as of Thursday, said Animal Services Executive Director Sarah Hock. They initially removed 115 on April 26.

“They were a tad bit more savvy,” Hock said of the 12 new cats. “It’s taken us awhile. We actually brought them in using humane traps that we left on the property.”

The cats lived at the undisclosed property on Cooper Point Road in “horrendous conditions” with little food or water, Hock previously said. JAS moved to rescue the cats after the resident was evicted from the property, she said.

News of the rescue prompted a surge in donations from the public. As of last Thursday, Hock said the shelter received nearly $25,000 in monetary or gift card donations, 500 pounds of cat litter from Mud Bay, over 100 bags of kitten food, and 60 bags of adult cat food from the Thurston County Humane Society.

“We had a full two weeks of receiving packages after packages from our Amazon wish list, shipments from Petco, PetSmart,” Hock said. “The community and beyond purchased kitten food, formula, treats, anything and everything and had it sent directly to our doorstep.”

Hock said she felt an “overwhelming sense of gratitude” for the influx of donations. She said the shelter should have enough supplies to care for the cats in this case for the rest of the year.

However, shelter capacity remains a concern. JAS has capacity for 95 animals at its shelter on Martin Way, but Hock previously said they’ve recently had to care for upwards of 250 animals.

Of the 159 rescued cats, Hock said 11 have been adopted, about 75 are in foster care, and over 50 are at partner shelters and rescue organizations. The remainder are at the JAS shelter.

“Our fosters, that we already had, stepped right up, and we’ve seen a lot of interest in people wanting to become cat fosters or cat volunteers at the shelter,” Hock said.

Most of the cats were found in fair condition, just underweight and dehydrated, Hock said. Only about 15 needed more extensive care, she said.

Field Service Officers are still checking the property for additional cats. The case will close when they find no cats for several days in a row, Hock said.

What Animal Services needs

At this point, Hock said the shelter needs more people to volunteer as well as to foster and to adopt the animals in its care — not just cats, but dogs too.

“If you’re allergic to cats or cats aren’t your pet of choice, we could absolutely use help in the dog department too,” Hock said. “Don’t want to forget about them.”

The shelter currently has more than 40 dogs, which exceeds its capacity of 35, Hock said. Lots of them are strays or dogs that have been surrendered by previous owners, she added.

“They’re coming in faster than we can actually get them out, either back home to their owners or adopted,” Hock said.

She attributed that trend to multiple factors, including economic uncertainty for households, rising rents, high pet deposit costs and a lack of veterinary access in the region.

“I think people don’t want to necessarily take on those added expenses, especially if they can’t even get their pets in to see their veterinarian if anything happened,” Hock said.

How to help

Readily adoptable animals, including cats, dogs and bunnies, are listed on the Joint Animal Services website.

Hock said the recently rescued cats will be ready for adoption in waves. Many are still having their health evaluated and need to be spayed or neutered. The kittens also have to age before they’re ready for adoption, she said.

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Anyone willing to volunteer at the shelter or foster an animal can sign up via the Joint Animal Services website as well.

If those options don’t work for people, Hock said JAS welcomes monetary donations to its emergency fund.

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