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New group not going to the dogs this time

Posted: Wednesday, Apr 17th, 2013

Volunteers with the new group Cats Alive! include from left Marilyn Flynn, Synthia Trujillo, Carol Bradshaw, Donna K. Ditmore, Vera Ballew and Carrie L. Kenney Basinger. Courier photo by Ruth Heide

Courier editor

ALAMOSA — Cats Alive!, a new feline assistance group, hopes to reduce the number of feral cats in the San Luis Valley.

“There’s no place in the San Luis Valley, nothing that’s organized, no organization that is doing this,” said one of the Cats Alive! founders, Donna Ditmore. “That’s why I got into.”

Ditmore was born and raised in the San Luis Valley, and her heart goes out to the hundreds of cats who seek shelter and food in dumpsters, barns and abandoned buildings. She said she heard about one abandoned building in a nearby county where there were 300 feral cats.

She and other volunteers in Cats Alive!, which is in the process of obtaining nonprofit tax-exempt status, hope to trap, spay/neuter and release feral and abandoned cats as well as medically treat them and provide food and shelter for them.

The group hopes to acquire grant funding to hire a veterinarian to assist with their mission.

“At this time we are limited in what we can do for feral abandoned cats,” Ditmore said. “When we get our vet, we will be able to help people spay and neuter cats because there are a lot of abandoned cats.”

Cats Alive! does not intend to build a shelter but will try to assist the animals where they are and eventually reduce their number through spaying and neutering the adults.

Volunteer Vera Ballew is working on the paperwork for the group’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. She stressed that until the nonprofit status is secured, the group cannot ask for donations. People can assist the group on an unsolicited basis, but the group cannot ask for donations yet.

Up to this point, people throughout the Valley have used their own money to spay or neuter feral cats, but there has not been an organized effort, Ditmore explained.

Some of the initial Cats Alive! volunteers include Carrie Kenney Basinger, Marilyn Flynn, Synthia Trujillo and Carol Bradshaw.

They know of instances where feral cats have had kittens that froze to death because they did not have adequate shelter, and they want to change that. Nature has also taken its course in reducing the cat population in some places where foxes have been killing them.

Cats Alive! volunteers want to reduce the cat population, too, but in a different way, through spaying and neutering.

“We want to reduce the number of wild and abandoned cats in the San Luis Valley,” Ballew said. “To do that we plan to capture, spay/neuter and release the wild cats, feral cats. We hope to transfer tame cats to shelters where they can be adopted as pets or to individuals. In the future we hope to be able to help pet owners get discounted costs for spaying/neutering. We also want to educate the public. That’s our primary focus reducing numbers by spay/neuter, education and relocation.”

“It’s going to take time but if we stick together we can do it,” Bradshaw said. “I am excited about it.”

Those who wish to learn more about the new group may email: catsaliveslv@gmail.com or contact Donna Ditmore at 589-5952.

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