Alex Ewald, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
It took Hobbit four weeks after he was rescued before he could open his eyes.
But on Sunday, when the now-6-month, snow-white cat wasn’t investigating the entire News & Eagle conference room, piquing with curiosity, he was crouching low on the table, quietly purring and rubbing his head against the closest hand to scratch his ears.
“He’s not a fighter, he’s a lover,” said Stacy Wilson, who currently is fostering Hobbit, along with numerous other cats, at her home in Hillsdale for the Furever Friends animal rescue program.
Veterinary bills for Furever Friends, which runs entirely on donations, currently total around $9,000, after the group recently rescued six puppies all with canine parvovirus.
“This organization and ones like it can’t survive without donations,” Wilson said. “We don’t make a profit, we save animals.”
Vet costs for each animal hit about $200-$400, which includes shots, worming, rabies, heartworm check, neutering/spaying and flea/tick treatment. Other costs include $500-$1,000 vaccinations for canine parvovirus, or “parvo,” which infects young puppies’ heart or intestines, fatally if left untreated.
The group often takes in unhealthy animals that need the extra medical care.
At 3 weeks old, Hobbit and his siblings, Cutie Pie and Spencer, had upper respiratory, skin and eye infections when they were found by a volunteer leaving the Enid Animal Shelter. A man had entered with the three kittens in a box, saying he didn’t want them anymore. All three were emaciated and malnourished — too ill not to be put down at the shelter, Wilson said.
Wilson, who took the cats into her home, said it was the worst case she’d worked with. Everyone had to enter their quarantined room with scrubs and shoes. Hobbit’s eyes were so infected, they were swollen from the inside-out, she said. His eyes now have to be cleaned daily and can’t open entirely.
Eventually, the cats gathered enough strength that they started climbing anything and everything — hence their name, “the Monkeys.” Today, Hobbit’s adoption is pending, and his siblings have been adopted.
“He has a potato fetish. He sneaks anything potatoes,” Wilson said.
“Oh, and French fries,” added her son, Dakota Wilson, who helps his mom take care of the cats around the clock.
Founder and current president Melba Evans began the rescue-foster program in June 2011 after initially helping people with expenses through the animal shelter. The group has no actual shelter location, instead using a network of around 23 foster families to temporarily house rescued animals.
Since then, the group has rescued and adopted out about 600 animals, Evans said.
“It’s a wonderful feeling when you do save them and they belong to a good home that will love them as much as you do,” she said.
The number of animals being abandoned at the city shelter declined over the last three years, according to the Enid Animal Control. Through October 2013, 1,251 dogs and 937 cats were turned over to the shelter.
Also, the number of dogs being adopted has nearly tripled since 2011 — the same year Evans began Furever Friends — with 411 canines finding homes in 2013. More than 110 cats also were adopted last year.
Evans said she believes Furever Friends played a big role in those changes because they get their animals mainly from the shelter. She and two fosters, for example, once rescued nine dogs from the facility.
“I’d just somehow like to thank the volunteers. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do this,” Evans said.
Donations to Furever Friends can be mailed to 902 W. Broadway or made in Furever Friends’ name to Wheatland Animal Hospital, the Cat Clinic or any Bank of Kremlin. Donations also can be made online through PayPal. The group also accepts pet-care items such as food, leashes, dishes, collars and blankets.
Wilson said Furever Friends always is looking for more volunteers and fosters, including drivers, event and adoption day volunteers and a grant writer for when the group obtains 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. For more information on Furever Friends, visit the Facebook group or email email@example.com.