Local cat foster nonprofit breaks records

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Editor's note: An earlier version of this story unintentionally misquoted Diane Stevens. Furry Friends does not benefit financially from its operations. We regret the error.

Furry Friends, a Vancouver nonprofit that cares for homeless and abused cats, adopted out 456 pets in 2021. They are hoping to maintain those numbers in the coming years.

Marketing Director Diane Stevens attributes the high number of adoptions to a change in staffing.

“About a year and a half ago, we changed leadership,” said Stevens. “Our previous leadership were ladies that liked cats, but they didn’t have business or management skills.”

Stevens said that changed when Jamie Garver became the president of the nonprofit. 

“(Garver) also was working as CEO of a credit union, so she had a lot of business and financial skills,” Stevens said. “Under her leadership, we were able to get more people with business and leadership qualities on our executive committee, so we were able to start fine-tuning things.”

Stevens said they improved their medical care after they found new avenues for procedures like spaying and neutering, which “saved quite a bit of money.”

They were also able to gather more donations in the process. Previously, Furry Friends had eight foster parents, but they now have 28, Stevens said.

A few cats with more extreme medical conditions required up to $5,000 for surgery, but Stevens said that became easier to manage with the new leadership.

“Once we get them healthy, we’ll be able to adopt them out for $100. We’re definitely not in the market to make money on these kitties,” Stevens said.

According to a news release from Furry Friends, the team spent about $126,000 on medical service for 250 kittens. Besides surgery, the money is also used on litter, wet and dry kitten food, replacement formula, parasite medication, flea medication, vaccines, microchips, spays and neuters, and blood tests. The organization accumulated around $260,000 from donations, with expenses in general totaling near $230,000.

One notable cat, named Hunter, was dumped on someone’s property and near death. The cat’s teeth were broken off and the roots were exposed, as sores and cuts plagued his feet, and he had infected tissues called a scrotal ablation. The cat is currently in recovery and will be better in “not too long and we are very happy about that,” said Stevens.

Other cats, like Prince, had a diaphragmatic hernia which needed extensive abdominal surgery, while Olive and Thea required eye removals due to severe trauma they sustained before being picked up by Furry Friends.

According to Stevens, Furry Friends was started in 1999 by Nancy McMartin in her home. Since that time, it has grown in scale.

“Today, we’ve been in a home that we purchased six years ago, which houses about 28 cats,” Stevens says.

She said the rest of the animals are in foster care with a number of volunteers. In 2021, Furry Friends hired its first two paid employees, who work part-time.

Stevens said Furry Friends plans to continue what they’re doing as they aim to increase the number of cats they adopt out. They would also like to gather more money so they can care for the cats that come in.

Their shelter has a mortgage of around $200,000, which the organization hopes to pay off. Once that happens, Stevens said they hope to expand the shelter, which is currently on half of an acre of land.

The release stated there will also be two auctions this year, with one being the South Pawcific Auction in September. Garver asks that donations be valued at $40 or more. The organization is looking for things like tools, electronics, sports memorabilia, and vacation experiences.

The deadline for donations is Aug. 1. The details of the other auction will be released at a later date. 

The location of the shelter is private, but for those interested in adoptions, Furry Friends can be reached at 360-993-1097 or at information@furryfriendswa.org. 

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