Currently housing 130 plus cats and kittens, the Helping Paws Animal Sanctuary is a true no kill, cage-free shelter that opened a little over a year ago in Saint James City. The shelter is known for taking in what they call "unadoptables" or special needs cats, many of which would otherwise be put down. In addition to healthy cats, the shelter is home to blind, deaf, lame, elderly, incontinent, FIV, and FELV kitties.
"I have a soft spot for the underdogs," said Executive Director Marnie Miszewski. "Most people aren't willing to take on animals with problems. It's my mission to make sure these animals have a comfortable, happy home to live out their lives."
The shelter offers a home like setting with TV's, water fountains, toys and every amenity they can think of to make the cats comfortable. Volunteers also come in daily to help take care of the cats.
Despite the fact that Noah is a blind cat and came from adverse conditions, he is sweet, loving and surprisingly tusting.
"These cats were someone's beloved pets and the knowledge that they still have the joy of living, playing, eating, being brushed and loved by the shelter's volunteers is such a comfort to those that had to surrender them," said Miszewski.
The shelter has already started an expansion project to help meet the demand for housing many of the cats displaced by the economy. Unfortunately, with the lack of snowbird support this time of year, some donation boxes being stolen, and the ever-increasing cost of necessary food and supplies, building is on hold and every day is a challenge.
"On the average, we get five calls per day from people needing to find new homes for their pets," Miszewski said. "While our space is limited at this time, it is my hope that one day we will have a larger facility and can expand to house other pets, such as dogs, while they await a permanent home."
After losing her job, Mizewski used all of her savings and any funds available to her to start the kind of shelter she always dreamed of having. Despite the fact it has put her personal finances in jeopardy, she continues to give everything she has to make sure the sanctuary continues to run the way she envisions; truly meeting the needs, physical and emotional of the cats in her care.
A nonprofit organization, Helping Paws Animal Sanctuary relies solely on donations, adoptions and volunteers, to maintain this quality Shelter.
If you would like to donate, adopt, help or become a member of Helping Paws newly instituted Pals Program, call 239-283-9100 or visit www.helpingpawsanimalsanctuary.com for more information.
Helping Paws Animal Sanctuary is located at 10060 Mallory Pkwy E, Unit D, in Saint James City, FL 33956. Visiting hours are from 4 to 6:30 p.m. daily with all other business by appointment.