7610 Davis Blvd, Naples, FL
Bob MacKenzie is a lifesaver.
At least, he is to a black cat named Spooky.
"It was his last day before he was going to be euthanized. I went home to my wife, there were tears, and she told me, 'Why don't you go adopt him?'" said MacKenzie, who owns four cats — three from Collier County Domestic Animal Services. "And he is the neatest cat. He's still that way. We've got to do something to get these cats into homes."
That's why MacKenzie played an important role in DAS' new project, dubbed "The Families for Felines Project" that seeks to place 100 cats in loving homes in 10 weeks. The goal is lofty, considering DAS was only able to place 384 cats with families during the 52 weeks in fiscal 2011.
The outcome is not usually good for cats who come into DAS. Of the 2,616 cats brought into the shelter in fiscal 2011, 2,095 — or 80 percent — are euthanized.
Some of those cats that are euthanized have to come from the adoptable cat population, said Amanda Townsend, executive director for Collier DAS.
"It's hard," she said. "It's especially hard for the volunteers like Bob."
Lesley Brown Robert, a Naples resident and friend of MacKenzie, donated $5,000 to underwrite adoptions for adult cats that have been available at DAS for some time, but not yet adopted. The money will pay for the cost of adoption for the cats, including the spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, microchip and a bag of food to get the adopter started.
The adopters will have to pay for the $10 county license.
MacKenzie said he talked to Robert about the donation.
"She has charitable funds to give and this money can be used in a very specific way to help adopt animals," he said. "These cats that make it to adoption, their health is OK, their sociability is OK. They have to jump through a lot of hurdles to get to the adoption rooms. We hope this works to find them homes."
DAS is initially limiting the adoptions to adult cats who have been in the shelter for at least a couple of weeks, Townsend said.
That means cats like Sammy, a 13-year-old orange cat who has been in the shelter since the beginning of April, have a better chance to find a home. Sammy, who is in a cage in the lobby of DAS, meows excitedly when MacKenzie passes by and gives him some attention.
"Sammy is totally sweet. He cuddles right to you," MacKenzie said. "He likes other cats, dogs. He doesn't care what it is. He deserves a home."
MacKenzie said the grant will allow people to "help innocent creatures who need help."
"Please be one of them," he said.
The cats are available for adoption through the grant program at DAS, 7610 Davis Blvd.
For more information, call DAS Public Information Specialist Daniel Christenbury at (239) 252-6957.