Working Toward “Safe, Sound and Homeward Bound” with Cat Pawsitive Pro
by Nikita Lero
Safe, Sound, and Homeward Bound. This is the motto of Five Acres Animal Shelter, the only no kill shelter in St. Charles County, Missouri and part of 2018’s Cat Pawsitive Pro campaign. Five Acres receives the majority of their animals from private citizens who can no longer care for their animals. They also work with local animal control facilities and overcrowded shelters in the state and across the US to transfer animals facing euthanasia. With an average of 2-5 cats brought in per week at Five Acres it’s no wonder why they completed their new Katy Favre Kitty Cottage. From 102 adoptions in 2011 to 265 adoptions in 2016, this shelter is way on their way to beating this record with an average of 5-8 cats per week adopted in 2017.
Meet the Staff and Volunteers
Five Acres has a dedicated team of staff and volunteers who are ready and eager to begin their journey with Cat Pawsitive Pro.
Todd Jones – Executive Director
As executive director, Todd has a vision of an ideal outcome for what the Cat Pawsitive Pro program will bring to Five Acres. “Staff and volunteers will become better equipped to help our cats become more adoptable through mentally stimulating interaction and quicker adjustment to living at the shelter,” says Todd. “The goal is always to bring more cats into the shelter and find forever homes for those cats so that we can save as many lives as possible.”
Dana Widmer – Feline Manager and Co-Team Leader for CPP
Dana specializes in socializing cats at Five Acres and has had some clicker training with cats before Cat Pawsitive Pro. With 20 years of experience working in shelters and nearly 5 years at Five Acres, Dana clearly loves working with animals and cats. “Watching a cat blossom into a confident creature is one of the most rewarding parts of my job,” says Dana. “Shy cats have always been my favorite and who I gravitate towards.”
Dana is excited to get started with Cat Pawsitive Pro and is looking forward to the outcome within Five Acres. “Since we are a free roaming shelter, some of our cats can easily get stressed in this environment,” says Dana. “To build confidence through training will be a huge asset to many of our kitties here in making them feel more comfortable and in turn making them more adoptable to get them in their forever homes!”
Dana hopes that Cat Pawsitive Pro can allow Five Acres to use these learned tools to help their shelter and educate other shelters as well. “No matter if it is our shelter or another, these cats all deserve less stress and the fair chance they need to get adopted into a loving home.”
Nikki Lowe – Assistant Feline Manager and Co-Team Leader for CPP
Nikki has been part of Five Acres for 3 months, and is very excited to start working more with cats and Cat Pawsitive Pro while doing what she loves most with cats: earning their trust. “It’s amazing when we get a fearful animal in and over the next few days of working with them, watching them blossom, into a completely different animal temperament wise,” says Nikki. “I would love to be able to help a ‘hard to adopt cat’ get adopted much quicker.”
Lauren Borgmeyer – Development Director
Lauren has been with Five Acres since 2011 between volunteering, internship, canine staff and, as of 2015, development director. Lauren’s purpose in life is very clear – animal advocate. “I feel that my purpose in life is to be a voice for animals because they don’t have one,” says Lauren. “Ultimately I would love for our shelter to continue to increase adoption rates so we can save more lives.”
Caroline Bruer- Part-Time Feline Director
Caroline has been volunteering with Five Acres for over 3 years and took on the role of Feline Director (part-time) recently. Caroline sees a clear reason for her participating in the program and her work at Five Acres. “I chose to work with cats at Five Acres because I know that I am making a difference in the cats’ everyday lives at the shelter, helping them to be more comfortable, happy, and outgoing,” says Caroline. From educating the public about FIV and FeLV to getting shy cats out of their shells, she is ready and eager to begin working with Cat Pawsitive Pro.
Regina has been with Five Acres for seven years and brings the most experience with clicker training. “I have trained shelter cats including basic socialization with scared/feral cats,” says Regina. From sit, jump, come, high five, and jumping through hoops, Regina has done it all and can’t wait to learn more with Cat Pawsitive Pro. “I want our long-timers to find new life and get adopted, I want them to do more than just exist,” says Regina. “I also want to learn more, because the more we learn, the more we can pass on to other rescues or visitors and keep cats in their homes.”
Susan has been volunteering with Five Acres for a little over one year, and brings her experiences from other shelters to the Katy Farve Kitty Cottage. “I love cats,” says Susan, who hopes to make cats more adoptable through the program. “I adopted a cat with behavioral issues and I know how challenging they can be for a family,” she says. “This project will help any cat with behavioral issues become more adoptable and hopefully will also make for happier cats while they live in the shelter environment.”
Meet the Kitties
Five Acres has a dedicated staff and volunteer team that care for each cat’s well-being. Currently they use a buddy program, where specific volunteers work with their ‘buddy’ cat. “Since we have a large volunteer base here, they spend quite a lot of time with the cats as do the staff,” says Dana. The staff and volunteers know how much time cats with behavioral issues need.
From fear biting, aggression, urinating out of the box, and fighting with other cats, these animals will act out in stressful situations. “It makes me feel sad for the cats,” says Nikki. They aren’t acting out to spite you, they just don’t have any other way to tell you something is wrong.”
Malachi is an example of a great candidate for Cat Pawsitive Pro. Dana says he’s a fantastic, playful cat, who just doesn’t handle shelter life very well, and she thinks he could really benefit from some training to relieve his stress while waiting for his forever home. “He is a smart boy, who plays hard and gets very mouthy with people,” says Dana. “He will benefit greatly from training so we can get him back to the cat he was in the beginning of his stay.”
Regina, who has helped train some cats already at the shelter gave two samples of what to expect from even the slightest bit of training. “Blizzard improved just by training him to look up at my face instead of playing with my feet,” she says. “Hollywood became less stir crazy with puzzle feeders, high fives, etc., and Timothy stopped hiding in his kennel with training so he now runs all over the main room.”
Lauren says, “I think that every cat can benefit from behavioral training, or at least deserves to have someone put in the effort to try and help them.”
Want to keep up with news about the lifesaving work of The Jackson Galaxy Project’s Cat Pawsitive Pro initiative? Follow us on Facebook at The Jackson Galaxy Project. You can support our work by making a tax-deductible donation today. The Jackson Galaxy Project is a Signature Program of GreaterGood.org.