Caring for cats helps Gabby Riley of Binghamton relax from the stresses of everyday life, school and adolescence.
“I fall in love with each of them,” said the 17-year-old. “There are certainly a few that are close to my heart. “
Riley volunteers with Every Dog’s Dream, which is now in the process of changing its name to Every Cat’s Dream, doing business as Homeless Cat Aid. Every Dog’s Dream started about 12 years ago as a pet rescue that focused primarily on dogs, but included cats and other animals.
But when the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year, the relief organization couldn’t find enough staff to care for the dogs and stopped adopting dogs. They then focused on trapping, neutering and releasing the stray cats. Because there are several other dog rescues in the area, the organization has decided to move to a cat rescue and adoption center, as well as continue to trap, sterilize and release stray cats, Audrey said. Woerter, president of the rescue.
More than 80 cats are now for adoption inside the shelter, located inside the Petco store in Johnson City, she said. Another 120 kittens are still being looked after by volunteer foster families who help them prepare for adoption.
“There are so many cats that need help,” Woerter said.
Cats must be placed with foster families, transported to the veterinarian, fed, watered and cleaned in their litter boxes. Some 73 volunteers help with these and other tasks, including special events such as kitten adoption days, Woerter said.
She is always on the lookout for dedicated volunteers and didn’t hesitate to welcome Riley when she applied to become a Rescue Volunteer.
“I knew the minute I met her that she was going to be a great fit for our rescue family,” she said of Riley.
Riley is a hard worker who is always ready to help wherever she needs it, Woerter said.
“She doesn’t just clean up. She takes the time to play with the animals, ”Woerter said of Riley.
For Riley, the road to Every Dog’s Dream began earlier this year when she saw a stray cat who appeared to be injured. She saved the Siamese / Calico mix and took her to Dickin Memorial Animal Hospital in Endicott. The hospital works with Every Dog’s Dream to take care of their animals. The cat named Willow made a full recovery and was adopted by Riley, who was inspired to help other animals and became a rescue volunteer.
“Animals mean a lot to me,” she said.
During her volunteer shifts, she gives cats fresh food and water, collects their litter, and makes sure their rooms are clean and tidy.
“It never feels like a job or a chore,” she said. “It feels good for me too – just being around the cats and helping them in any way I can. “
While she takes care of the cats needs, she takes the time to stroke, hold and play with her furry loads.
While teens tend to be busy with school, sports, and other activities, they should find the time to give back and volunteer in some way, Riley advised.
“It teaches you that putting something good in the world is something you need,” she said. “Even if it’s something small, do something to help. “
Home and birthplace: Binghamton.
Education: She will be starting her final year at the Owego Free Academy next week. She is considering going to college but has not yet decided where she wants to go.
Future career: She is not sure about her future career but would like to work with animals in some way.
Family: Parents Sarah and Tim Riley; a sister and two brothers.
How to help: Every Dog’s Dream needs volunteers who can work in the morning; donated cat litter, Purina Cat chow, Purina and Friskies; and canned foods and cleaning products. For more information, visit Everydogsdream.org or stop by the adoption center inside Petco at 420 Harry L. Drive in Johnson City.