Willy's Kitty Angels Rescue helps strays find new home
By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Northborough – MaryEllen Richards, director of Willy's Kitty Angels Rescue, is on a mission: to help one stray cat at a time. For her and her team of volunteers, there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish all that they are trying to do.
In 2007, Richards was living in the Dudley/Webster area and took on the task of trapping, neutering and releasing cats that she would find left behind. She would also take some of these felines to the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society in Springfield for their free feral Sunday clinics.
“I would take as many as 12 in my truck once a month to be spayed and neutered. The ferals would go back where they came from but, once again, it was difficult to find shelters to take them and adopt them out,” Richards said. “There were so many beautiful cats and kittens that needed homes so I started trying to find placements for them myself.”
“One of the best cats I ever had was named Willy Jo,” she noted. “He was found on the side of the road when he was just six weeks old. ?I adopted him, and he lived to be 14 years old.?Willy's is homage to him.”
Currently, there are about 23 cats and four kittens available for adoption. Some of these are located at their space in the PetSmart Adoption Center in the Northborough Crossing shopping plaza. Others are located inside the Millbury PetSmart Adoption Center. Some still remain in foster care.
“The four kittens that are available were fostered with a family that had four young children so they are very used to being handled by children,” Richards said.
In 2008, Richards contacted an attorney to help apply as a nonprofit charity. In 2009, the organization became a nonprofit and many doors opened. With all of the cats and kittens that needed to find homes, Richards was able to set up tables at different pet stores. While this was a very slow process, she was able to apply to be a PetSmart charities partner.
“We moved in to the Millbury PetSmart in November 2010 and this past March, we moved into the Northborough PetSmart location realizing that there was space with empty cages…. It took a lot of volunteers and hard work to get this new location up and running but we are off to a good start,” she noted.
Deb Pellegrino, adoption coordinator and volunteer at the Northborough Adoption Center, has seen the positive outcomes of Willy's Kitty Angels Rescue in the few short months that she has been involved. She is responsible for trapping, feeding and following the progress of many of the cats that cross their paths. She gets calls constantly with sightings of cats and kittens in need.
“I have a regular day job but this is so rewarding. I have watched 15 cats at our Northborough location be adopted since March to wonderful, loving homes. When one of our cats, Autumn, was adopted, there was not a dry eye in the house. We really get to know our cats so it's different than a shelter,” Pellegrino said.
There is an application process on the website and potential adoptees are screened.
“We call landlords and find out if they are allowed to have pets. We also schedule appointments with those seeking to adopt so that they can spend some time with a potential match. We get to see the interaction and see if it is a good fit,” said Richards.
Richards still gets pictures and emails from many that have adopted cats from the organization.
“When one of our cats or kittens is adopted it can be very gratifying. You think back to the journey this animal was on whether it was picked up on the street, or found wandering. We have had 726 adoptions from 2010 up until Jan. 31, 2013. Out of those, only five came back because it was not a good match. That's a pretty good track record,” said Richards.
There are currently around 10 volunteers at the Northborough location. For more information or to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.willyskittyangels.org. Donations are also appreciated.
There will be an adoption open house Saturday, Aug. 16, at the Northborough PetSmart Adoption Center, 6106 Shops Way, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
These are some of the cats that have been recently placed by Willy's:
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