In a series of blog posts titled Not on My Watch, Robin began to share stories about these cats. By sharing these stories, and with help from a solid social media presence, she was able to raise funds for cats that needed life-saving surgery, rescue cats from high kill shelters by working with private rescue groups in those areas, and find homes for these cats.
But it wasn’t enough. In 2010, in the middle of one of the worst economic crisis our country has ever experienced, and with animal rescue groups suffering lack of funding and shelters closing everywhere, Robin decided to start her own non-profit rescue, Kitten Associates.
Based in Connecticut, Kitten Associates is a new breed of rescue. According to their mission statement, Kitten Associates is dedicated to saving the lives of cats (and dogs, too!), supporting animal rescue organizations with powerful online marketing tools, and championing legislation for spay/neuter programs to end pet overpopulation.
In addition to rescuing cats in need, Kitten Associates builds and delivers management and communications tools to struggling, small rescue groups and shelters, to help them be more effective in promoting their available animals, raising donations and attracting more volunteers. Both Robin and her fiancé, Sam Moore, draw on many years of experience with corporate management and marketing communications, and they plan to deliver web sites, databases, communications strategies and other technical and marketing support tools that can help rescue organizations make the most of their limited personnel and resources. They are able to do this for no or very low cost because they get their funding from grants and corporate and private donors.
One of their first websites just went live, illustrating why there is such a need for this aspect of their mission. Heard County Critters is a small group of folks who partner with Heard County Animal Control Center in Georgia. Oddly enough, none the volunteers for the group even live in Georgia. They just saw a need and decided to help out. The animals get 72 hours before they get euthanized. Sometimes they get a few more days, but not often. Since the municipal shelter doesn’t have a web site or the ability to accept donation using PayPal (they still use Western Union!), Kitten Associates created a web site that links to their Petfinder pages, shows which cat or dog is “urgent” (meaning, his or her time is close to running out), and makes it simple for folks to adopt or sponsor the animals.
Kitten Associates reflects their founder’s passion and values in every aspect of the organization. They don’t just want to rescue cats, they want to ensure that the cats they rescued will continue to lead happy, healthy lives in their new, hopefully forever, homes. Adopters are required to feed a grain-free and/or raw meat diet and may not feed dry kibble. Declawing is not allowed under any circumstance. Kitten Associates guarantees their adoptions for the life of the pet. One very unique aspect of their post adoption support includes on-call availability, should adopters have a question regarding health or behavior issues.
In its first year (which was really only four months long), Kitten Associates rescued 60 cats and kittens – a remarkable feat for any rescue group, but especially for a brand new, essentially three-person operation.
Kitten Associates’ focus for this year is on basic fundraising to obtain a solid financial base so they can stop the constant worry about all the bills Robin currently pays out-of-pocket. They need foster homes. They need volunteers. They need creative folks who can help with event planning and fundraising. They need experienced cat rescuers, a vet tech or a vet who are willing to be on call for questions after business hours, should the need arise.
Kitten Associates have a lot on their plate, and they have a big vision. Knowing Robin, there is no doubt in my mind that they will achieve their vision, and more. And more importantly, I know that thanks to Robin and Kitten Associates, cats and kittens that otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance at life will find their forever homes.
All photos © Robin Olson, used with permission.
You may also enjoy reading: