Animal Rural Klinic, or ARK, a low-cost spay/neuter facility owned by Veterinarian Pamela Brambert in Whetstone, bustled with activity Wednesday morning when the clinic was transformed into a temporary emergency response center for rescued cats.
A PetSmart Charities’ semi truck sat parked in the back of the clinic while PetSmart employees and Cochise County Humane Society volunteers unloaded pallets of donated supplies in response to a massive rescue effort where more than 100 cats are being removed from a hoarding situation in Whetstone.
With about 50 of the cats already housed at ARK, on Friday another wave of 50 or more will be transported to the clinic as Cochise County Animal Control officers trap the animals and bring them to ARK, where they will receive veterinary care. The cats will remain at ARK until they are ready for adoption, with Humane Society volunteers on hand to care for the animals.
“PetSmart Charities has an emergency relief department, so when an organization like the Cochise County Humane Society needs help with situations like this, we’re here to assist in any way we can,” said Derinda Lewis, PetSmart Charities’ adoption relations specialist out of Phoenix. “Based on the vast number of cats they’re planning to bring to this clinic, their resources would have been overwhelmed. We brought pallets of cat food, bowls, litter, crates and toys,” Lewis said. Twenty-one pallets stacked with an assortment of supplies were unloaded from the semi truck, all of them donated by PetSmart Charities.
“This is a passion of mine,” said Lewis. “I actually work out of the corporate office in Phoenix and we had less than 24 hours notice to be here with our emergency response team. So we were able to mobilize a response in a short amount of time.”
Mary Behnke, a humane society volunteer known for her Trap, Neuter and Release efforts throughout the county and volunteer work with Border Animal Rescue, was at ARK to help with the cats. “A lot of these are really nice cats that have been socialized, so they will make wonderful pets,” she said. While it’s true that a large number of adoptable cats were rescued, Behnke said feral cats also will be coming in as part of the same rescue operation. “We’re going to let people throughout the county know that we have ranch and barn cats available for adoption,” she said. “This is a case where someone who meant well let a situation get out of control.”
Donna Graybill, vice president of the humane society and an ARK employee, said the cats will be temporarily housed at ARK until an adoption day can be organized. “The Cochise County Humane Society is taking responsibility for this rescue operation,” Graybill said. “This has just been an amazing undertaking where we’ve worked closely with the Arizona Humane Society, PetSmart Charities and Cochise County Animal Control officers to accomplish a successful rescue. I’m thrilled the cats are being removed from a bad situation.”
Cochise County Hu-mane Society President Glenn Baxter also extended his thanks to the volunteers and organizations that made the rescue operation possible. “ARK has offered this facility as a temporary place for the cats during the rescue effort,” he said. “Once all the cats have been examined, spayed, neutered, vaccinated and receive any medical help they may need, we’ll be organizating a massive pet adoption for them.”
While PetSmart Charities provided supplies, the humane society is seeking monetary donations to help offset medical costs for the cats that will need veterinary care. “None of these animals will be up for adoption until they’ve been examined and have been spayed or neutered and vaccinated,” noted Robin Redding, public relations person for the humane society. “When the 50 cats we’re expecting here on Friday arrive, we’re really going to have our hands full. Along with funds for the medical care, we could use more volunteers to help with care for the cats.”
In addition, the humane society will be establishing a “Sponsor a Cat” program, where a donation will pay for one cat’s care, Redding said. “This kind of large scale rescue operation is new territory for us, so we’re coming up with ideas as we go,” she added.
Contact Donna Graybill at (520) 378-2109 to donate for veterinarian care. For information, go to the humane society’s website at www.cochisecountyhumanesociety.org.