The beginning of FFRC was 9/1/2000. My daughter, Dawn, and I knew we would love to run a feline rescue center. Our first room was known as Kitty Campus Room. We immediately took in 12 cats. I was overwhelmed with the thought of having to find homes for so many! Little did I know where all this was eventually going to lead. I remember our very first adoption–it was a joyous occasion! At this time, we did not have the “spay/neuter before they go” policy in place. If a cat or kitten was adopted before she was spayed or neutered, the owner had to sign that this surgery would be done.
Dawn and I quickly realized how much a no-kill cat rescue was needed. The phone calls came in, cats and kittens came flooding in, volunteers started arriving and we decided this: If we were going to run a cat rescue center, we were going to do it to the best of our ability and set the standards high. We contacted Dr. Pettigrew’s office and talked at great length with him. He helped us set our protocols. At first, it was all so overwhelming. Where were we going to get money to do this great desire that we had? People soon realized that we were sincere in operating FFRC with high standards. People liked that and started supporting us.
In 2001, the second year, another room was built. This was called June’s Room. We thought how wonderful–we now have 2 rooms! Little did we know what was about to happen. Dawn and I also ran a dog boarding facility at the same time. We loved doing this, but felt the passion of the rescue center. We decreased our numbers for the dog boarding in the large main area to make more room for cat rescue work. This allowed us to take in more cats and do more adoptions. Cat’s Cove also became a reality. The Cove is a building used for cats that were given to us but have long standing litter box issues. Cat’s Cove is large, comfy, and fun for the cats.
In 2002, the third year, things changed again. Dawn felt the need to enter school to become a nurse. With Dawn gone, I drastically decreased the dog boarding. Another room was built called the Cat’s Corner Room. Our policy also changed on neutering. I felt very strongly that we needed to present to the public our opinion of how important it is to spay and neuter. No longer would any cat or kitten be adopted unless he/she was neutered/spayed first. This is a standard I feel all shelters and rescues should have. As cats that needed homes continued to arrive, our adoption rate went up. People were responding to and supporting the rescue center. Kitty City was also built. It is a large building that is located right behind the main rescue center. The purpose is to hold the overflow from the main area. Kitty City also houses the Cat’s Cove gang for the 4 cold winter months.
In 2003, the fourth year, we continued to grow. Our volunteer numbers went up. We came up with a wonderful, updated protocol on vaccinations, worming, etc. New health records were devised and well received by the adoption families. Much of these same protocols still exist today.
In 2004, the fifth year, several things happened. We opened our own spay/neuter clinic called Earth Angels. The clinic was open to the public and did all of FFRC’s spays/neuters. With Earth Angels on our own property, it was so easy to walk out the back door with an unneutered cat and several hours later walk back in with the surgery done! This also meant that we had a vet on the property 3 days a week and was wonderful for us! We also added the 4th Rescue Room, called the Mewcomer’s Room. This was the beginning of taking in anywhere from 230 to 270 cats in a year. This was a busy time, fun time and a growing time.
In 2005, the sixth year, things continued on. Our volunteer numbers continued to rise. This is the year we had a catastrophe. ALL cats were tested for leukemia upon arrival. One day, I noticed a cat that had been here for 5-6 weeks was not feeling well. I decided to do a second leukemia test. The horrible result was a positive reading. This event made us aware of the fact that a one time leukemia test is not enough. If a cat had just contacted leukemia shortly before arrival to FFRC, the antibodies may not be strong enough yet to show on a test. That day we tested every single cat in the rescue center–some 80 felines. It was a big job, and necessary. We had 3 other cats come up positive. They were quarantined, were still positive on their 3rd test, and were euthanized. This was a very sad day–a day of mourning. It also made us set our health protocol even higher yet. We decided every cat here would be retested again in 4 weeks for leukemia. It was expensive testing, but we wanted to be known as adopting out healthy cats. A cement floor was added to Kitty City. A new window was added to Kitty Campus Room.
In 2006, the seventh year, another change in health protocol came about. In addition to our leukemia tests, we now decided all incoming cats would have a leukemia/FIV/heartworm test. We would still repeat the leukemia test in 4 weeks. We took in a record 270 cats for this year and spayed/neutered 244 . We sponsored a huge Adopt-A-Thon here on the property.
In 2007, the eighth year, things stayed calm and smooth. Two volunteers built an outdoor enclosure which was added to the front side of the office. By opening a window or a cat flap door (floor level) the cats can go in and out as they chose during nice weather. Cat’s Corner Room had a large vertical window added. We also purchased a new shed to store our dry food supply.
In 2008, the ninth year, we had a wonderful thing happen. We won The Animal Planet Cat Hero of the Year award. What an honor! I was humbled beyond belief. We held a huge party of celebration and had about 400 people come! All very old and tired furniture was removed from Cat’s Cove and 3 new big pieces were added.
In 2009, the 10th year, we became a part of the Ustream world. Towards the end of this year is when the Ustream cam was started in the Rescue Center! A metal awning was added over one of the door entrances–to help keep our visitors dry.
In 2010, the 11th year, our incoming numbers continued to climb. Our Ustream cam was having a positive effect for the rescue center. In the past to cool the rescue center, we used several window a/c units. In the winter, we used a gas heater on the wall. This all changed as we had a REAL a/c and furnace put in! We also applied white fiberboard to all the walls-a huge improvement. A long window was put in the front office overlooking the outdoor porch.
In 2011, the 12th year, we had a major change. Three new rooms were added to the backside of the rescue center: Thumper’s Room (a quarantine area), a bathroom (we love having this) and a Welcome Room/Office. The Welcome Room became our main entrance. Audio was also added to the webcam. We have truly made webcam friends all over the world. After having Earth Angels open since 2004 and doing over 11,000 spays and neuters, we had to close the doors. Our vet was offered a full time job elsewhere. We still do the majority of our spays/neuters here at the rescue center. We have 3 different veterinarians who are willing to come in, give physicals, do the surgeries, and give medical advice. Kitty City also saw a big improvement. When a heavy winter door was put on, insulated windows were installed, insulation was applied in the walls followed by fiberboard walls, it made the building so much warmer.
We are now in 2012, our 13th year. At this point, we have reached over 2.3 million views on the webcam! Already this year, we’ve seen a new epoxy floor put down in the rescue center. We love it. It’s so easy to clean. And to think this all started in a 3 car working mechanic garage!