Saturday, March 15, 2014


Good morning,  It is open house day!  54 this morning,  temps supposed to be 72 today!  Great day for an open house :)

Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary – Present and Future Vision

Written by Jill Anne Sparapany

This is the second of two articles about BCR. Welcome to BCR – Present and Future Vision.
You may read part one on 3/14/2014

Question: So, after Gracie and Julie, cats #3 and #4, you decided to ‘do it for real’ and become an incorporated, non-profit cat rescue. After becoming incorporated and obtaining your 501C-3 non-profit status in 2005, you grew and built your first building in 2007. How many cats did you have in the first building when you said we need a second building?

Alana: We were full at 48 cats. I had always wanted to take in FeLV cats. When we finally had the funds for a second building, it was built in 2012. Building 2 has a room for FIV cats, a room for FeLV cats and one blind cat room. The ‘fourth’ room is our isolation room for sick cats or new residents before they are placed in a room.

Question: I’m sure your vet and Walmart pharmacy do not barter their services for cat litter, what fundraisers do you do to raise cash?

Alana: The cat sponsorship is our #1fundraiser. The wishlists and in-kind donations are a huge help! The gifts allow us to funnel the money that would have been spent on supplies to vet care and medications. We have four cats with asthma and all have daily inhaler meds. One Flovent inhaler costs $190 and lasts one month for one cat!

Various contests, the Christmas tree decoration, annual BCR calendar, cafepress store and our raffle help bring in cash funds. Also when people order through amazonsmile, a percentage of the purchase price is sent to us as a charitable donation, at no additional cost to the customer.

Question: How many people sponsor a cat or more than one cat?
Alana: A bunch – I have not tried to count. We are blessed with so many wonderfully generous supporters. Many sponsor more than one cat.

Question: When a cat becomes sick, you do everything you can to get them through their illness. How many cats have had feeding tubes and, generally, how long are they in place? 
Alana: Snicker, Wendy, Boone, Jake, Fred twice, Holly, Gallie, Pixie, Lisa twice and Keller twice. There have also been many that have since passed away. Typically, they are in place for a week or two. Virginia had one for over a month.

Question: What do you have available for emergency needs?
Alana: We have an oxygen tent, portable oxygen tanks and pet oxygen masks, first aid kit.

Question: What meds do you have on hand for an emergency?
Alana: There are no emergency medications that we would be in the position to give a cat.  We do have normal antibiotics etc.

Question: Have you ever done CPR on a cat?
Alana: No, I have never been put in that position.  Sadly the odds of getting them back are very very slim even with  the right equipment. I have had several cats over the years that the vet’s office did get back. They went into surgeries as normal seeing cats, they came out blind, brain damaged cats.  

Question: How do you decide which cats to take in?
Alana: First, it depends if we have the space. If we do have the space (in the correct room), it depends where the cat is located and can transportation be coordinated? For example, our newest resident, Nina was in New Jersey. One of BCR’s supporters assisted in transporting Nina from NJ to Maryland. In Maryland, two BCR supporters, Seth and wife Katherine kept Nina overnight and transported her the rest of the way to us. Sometimes, it takes a small village to do big things!

Question: If you don’t have room, other than cross-posting on Facebook, is there anything else you do to help cats get into homes or other rescues?
Alana: Unfortunately, I am one person and there are not enough hours in my day! More than 70% of the Facebook cross-postings do find homes.

Question: What is the daily routine for cleaning rooms and lobbies?
Alana: My staff work very hard and are very dedicated to the cats. Daily indoor room and catio cleaning with all beds and blankets removed for laundering, walls and floors are scrubbed down with cleaners that kill 99% of bacteria and viruses and floors are steam mopped. All shelves are scrubbed down, climbers are cleaned, the catio is swept and all catio furniture is cleaned. The stainless steel water bowls are cleaned daily, the fountain water bowls are taken apart and cleaned with filters changed and filled with fresh filtered water. Food bowls are also cleaned daily and filled with dry food. The wet food bowls are used for 2-3 feedings per day and washed after every feeding.

Once a month, the Friday before Open House Saturday, we do power washing of the catios.

Question: Wow! That’s a lot of cleaning and work for the cats. How many employees do you have?
Alana: We have 3 full time  (Stephanie, Christine and Me) and we have Kitty, Sidney, Sabrina, Jeremiah, and my daughter Stephanie part time.  My daughter is getting married and will be moving to Texas in April.

Question: I’m sure you don’t have a ‘typical day’, but what is your daily routine?
Alana: I am up around 4:45 a.m. I go out and move the camera, feed animals, start working on email, Facebook, fundraising, thank you letters,  working on grants, etc. I am done when box opening is done. I crawl in bed by 7:30 p.m., watch TV for a bit and lights out at 9 p.m.

Question: Your special day of work is Sunday for payroll and accounting. How much does it take to run BCR?
Alana: It takes over $325,000 a year. Last year, payroll was $120,000 and the vet bills were $119,000. My annual salary is $28,000 for a 60+ hour work week.

Question: BCR is located on your farm. How long have you lived here? What other animals do you have?
Alana: I bought the farm in 2004 after my husband died. I had a petting zoo the first summer here…boy, what a mistake that was! I immediately closed it. On my farm, I have horses, donkeys, pigs, guinea hens and ET (aka Evil Turkey). I have a green house and grow a garden. (I’m vegetarian).

Question: There is an Open House today. When did the idea for Open House events come about? When was the first one?
Alana: We have done them for years. I think the first one was in 2010.

Question: Do you donate items to other shelters? Which shelters and what items?
Alana: Our supporters want to support BCR first, otherwise, they would donate to another shelter. We use everything…when towels have reached the end, we cut them up for cleaning rags. So we usually do not donate unless it is something we absolutely would not use.

We received 3,000 lbs of Purina food years ago…and the cats threw up constantly on it. We donated the majority of the food to three rescues. We have had opportunities to get pallets of food from the Purina food program; we always donate the biggest portion of it to multiple shelters and rescues.

We won some stuff in a contest years ago that was for dogs – leashes, collars, etc. – we donated all the dog stuff to two local shelters.

We received 10 PALLETS of FreshStep CLAY litter (not the scoopable kind) and it was awful stuff, stinks to high heaven and you have to dump the entire litter box every two days because of the smell. We donated nine pallets and used one pallet in crate litter boxes and outside.

Question: What’s in store for BCR’s future?
Alana: I want an in-house vet – that is my goal for 2015. Also a spay-neuter clinic or spay-neuter program for the community.

Question: You love all the cats, but who are the ones that really got your heart?
Alana: Holly, she went through so much to finally get to a place in her own mind of wanting to live. Jake, he is a sweetie who has gone through a lot of health spots.

Question:  What’s the most challenging part of running BCR?
Alana: The most challenging part is making sure we have enough of everything the cats need to provide them with quality care.

Question: What’s the most enjoyable?
Alana: Getting kisses from the cats!

I know everyone thanks Alana, her staff and all the generous supporters for everything they do to give these very sweet cats a great home and quality life!