New student club dedicated to assisting homeless animals

Orion is an almost two months old male. He is a quiet kitten but very playful, and he just loves people. He would love to be adopted with one of his sisters — Autumn, Annette and Elsie.

Tessa Callender

Students Helping Rescue Animals, a newly created club on campus that is dedicated to helping animals, is having Kitten Rescue Day. It will be 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at The Ark Pet Shop on Hayward Ave. There will be 20 felines up for adoption, ranging in age from 1 month to 12 years.

“These kittens were rescued from a bleak life of fending for themselves outdoors, and now they need to find their forever homes,” said Lark Dunham, organizer of the adoption event and SHRA treasurer.

Dunham, junior in animal science, became interested in helping animals when she started working at a shelter in 2002 and said that this type of work is her life’s purpose.

The kittens are currently being kept in various foster homes in Ames and once they have homes, the foster pet owners will be able to rescue another group of kittens.

Those kittens and cats that will be available to be adopted have a variety of patterns and colors including orange, striped, calico, black, brown and grey. One of them is a purebred white Persian and another is a polydactyl, meaning it has extra toes.

The re-homing fee is $50 for one feline, two for $90 or three for $120. This is about one-fifth of normal fees, considering the veterinary work that the animals have received.

Past experience with cats is not necessary, but potential adopters need to consider the large commitment that adoption entails, Dunham said. 

Dunham will be available to answer any questions that people have about cats themselves or adopting them.

Once adopters select a feline, a questionnaire will need to be filled out that asks several questions. Questions on the survey include history with felines, where the cat would live and why they’re interested in adopting, to name a few. 

The week after the event, the kittens will be spayed and neutered using the fees that their adopters provide. After the kitten has recovered from the surgery, it will be delivered to its new home, where Dunham will make an in-home visit to check if the animal will have the proper environmental conditions to have a happy and successful life.

New owners will then sign a contract agreeing not to declaw the kitten, allow for a follow-up visit three weeks after the adoption and agree to only give back the animal if they absolutely cannot keep it anymore.

“Even if someone can’t adopt, they can still help out by donating,” Dunham said.

Whether its kitty litter, cat food, or a monetary donation to help with medical expenses, all donations are greatly appreciated, Dunham said.

This will be SHRA’s first adoption event as well as The Ark Pet Shop’s first time hosting such an event and SHRA and The Ark hope to continue it in the future.

SHRA was created by club president Allie Bender, junior in animal science. Bender came up with the idea while talking to a friend about her plans for helping animals in the future and how she didn’t feel like she was doing anything to help them now.

“My goal in creating SHRA was to help local animals in need now,” Bender said.

The group was created in February of 2010 and is composed of a variety of different majors, not just animal science and pre-veterinary majors.

“I became involved in SHRA because it is truly dedicated to solving the problem of animal homelessness in the United States,” said Andrea Birkeland, sophomore in animal science and SHRA education committee member. “Everyone involved in SHRA is so passionate about saving animals’ lives and no other club on campus focuses directly on volunteering at and raising money for animal shelters as much as our club.”

The group volunteers Tuesdays and Fridays at the Story County Animal Shelter and Saturdays at the Boone Area Humane Society.

“My favorite part about this club is volunteering at the animal shelters,” said Birkeland. “It is so rewarding to meet the animals we are raising money for, walking the dogs and getting the cats out of their cages for a while.”

Bender has high hopes for those gaining experience through SHRA.

“I hope our members gain a better understanding of shelters, the animals, the problems, and the solutions that anyone can be a part of,” Bender said. “There are a lot of simple ways to combat animal homelessness and I hope that our members realize how much they are truly making a difference.”

In the future, SHRA wants to hold a 5K run/walk and more adoption events in general as well as one at their booth during Veishea.

“I am truly blown away by how large this club has grown in the few short months that it has been in place,” Bender said. “I’ve always had such a passion for helping homeless animals and it is amazing to see so many other students share in my passion. It’s amazing to see this many people care.”