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Alley Cat Allies: Organization develops relationship with town to provide for local animals

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Jan 8, 2021

Mayor Jim Auxer, left, stands in front of the trunk full of cat food with Mountain Cats TNR Founder Tina Creller on Dec. 30. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The town of Shepherdstown received an unexpected Christmas gift last month, from Bethesda, Md.-based organization Alley Cat Allies.

The 30-year-old organization, which focuses on providing protection for cats and kittens, reached out to Mayor Jim Auxer a couple weeks ago, to see if the town would be open to develop a working relationship with the organization’s Alley Cat Allies Keeping Families Together program. On Dec. 23, ACA President and Founder Becky Robinson presented a large donation of dog, cat and kitten food to the town at Pigs Animal Sanctuary, where the food is currently being stored for distribution.

“Especially during the holidays, we want to keep families together. Pets and community cats are an important part of these families,” Robinson said. “We know this donation of food will help to keep them together.”

According to local trap-neuter-and-return organization founder Tina Creller, of 501(c)3 nonprofit Mountain Cats TNR, the email to the mayor was the result of her reaching out to ACA for help.

“I’ve been in contact with them most of the year, to try and get assistance,” Creller said on Dec. 30 at the Pigs Animal Sanctuary, as she worked with ACA volunteers, Auxer and Town Recorder Lori Robertson to fill the back of her Jeep with cat and kitten food.

Alley Cat Allies volunteers help community members fill the back of a Jeep with cat food for animals in need on Dec. 30. Tabitha Johnston

Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Alley Cat Allies Keeping Families Together program has been helping provide dog, cat and kitten food to families and organizations that don’t have the funds to feed their cats or the cats they care for, according to ACA communications director Peter Osborne.

Since the donation took place, the town has worked diligently to distribute the food to local organizations that either need the food themselves, or can ensure it will reach individuals in need of food to feed their pets. According to Auxer, the town has, so far, distributed sizable amounts of dog, cat and kitten food to Jefferson County Community Ministries, Shepherdstown Shares Food Pantry, Mountain Cats TNR and the Animal Welfare Society of Jefferson County. Similar ACA donations will take place annually from now on, Auxer said.

“There’s obviously a need for this food,” Auxer said, mentioning ACA’s decision to partner with the town makes a lot of sense, due to its animal-friendly mindset.

For Creller, having a stock of cat and kitten food will make it easier for her to feed the feral and stray cats and kittens she humanely traps, neuters and returns back into the locations she removed them from. Especially since not all of those cats and kittens are best served to being returned to the wild, and have to be cared for as she finds homes for them.

“I don’t like to take kittens back, or if they’re extremely friendly cats or sick. I try to adopt them out, instead. You can’t put a blind cat back outside!” Creller said, mentioning her organization has neutered over 1,000 cats since its establishment in 2015.

To learn more about Mountain Cats TNR, visit https://www.facebook.com/MountainCatsTNR/, email mountaincatstnr@hotmail.com or call 571-207-7617. To learn more about ACA, visit https://www.alleycat.org/.