The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 28, 2008


Local animal shelter bursting at the seams with cats

The current financial hardship is causing more families to surrender their pets. According to Grace Jeans, board president of the Lowell Humane Society, “During holidays we generally see a surge in [the number of] animals surrendered. People get stressed out.”

Milo is looking for a forever home. He confided that he would love to live in Carlisle. (Courtesy photo)

She noted that “in September we had 258 animals, and in October we had 301. On November 18, we had 142 animals surrendered.” Jeans estimates that roughly 50% of them find a new home. Included in these statistics are sick or stray animals that are brought to the shelter to be euthanized.

Need for foster parents

Nationwide there has been an epidemic of cat overpopulation. Jeans notes, “Society puts more emotional investment on dogs than cats, which are unfortunately considered more disposable. Some cats never see a veterinarian, and if they are left outdoors, their population growth can be exponential.” She stressed the urgent need for help, saying, “We are busting at the seams at the center today with cats.” Kittens especially cannot be cared for at the shelter as the stressful and loud environment is not beneficial to their development.

Carlisle foster parent

“We rely heavily on the foster care homes,” says Jeans. “They are an integral part of caring for the sick and the young.” Donna Barach of Carlisle is on her third round of being a foster parent for cats and kittens. “Donna has been a case in point of how important foster care is,” says Jeans.

During her first two rounds, Barach cared for a total of six kittens and two mother cats. She now has two kittens. “My four children love to be part of the process of caring,” she says. “This time they even got to name the kittens; they named them Chip and Oreo.”Barach nurtures the kittens until they reach an ideal weight of about two pounds, are ready to take on all necessary vaccinations, making them ready for adoption. Barach and her family maintain a book with entries of all cats they have cared for and hope to add to this collection for years to come.

Adopting a pet

The Lowell Humane Society takes great pride in matching animals with the right owner. Over the last few years, 28 Carlisle households have adopted from Lowell. Adoption costs range from $125 for cats and kittens to $250 for dogs or puppies. All animals come with a clean bill of health, and up-to-date vaccinations. Older cats (three years and older) are adoptable at a lower cost.

Volunteer opportunity

If you are 16 years or older, you can participate as a volunteer, committing to two hours a week. Volunteers generally help with office work, allowing the staff to focus on caring for the animals. Children are encouraged to help as part of holiday gift-giving by donating items in the “wish list” at Included in this list are gift cards to pet stores and everyday supplies like trash bags, bleach, towels, high-quality canned dog and cat food and kitty litter.

Increased demand, reduced contributions

According to Jeans, it costs $1,500 a day to keep the doors open. “We are a 501(c)3 organization that does not receive any city, state or federal funds. Our funding relies solely on the generosity of individuals in the Greater Lowell community and grant-makers.” The recent financial downturn has been devastating to their day-to-day operation.

Barach is passionate about helping this organization which celebrated its 135th anniversary. She comments that being a foster parent for these animals has helped her own pets get trained and understand what the boundaries are. In addition it has been a hands-on education for her children to understand that not all animals have a great start in life. ∆

The Lowell Humane Society is located at 951 Broadway Street in Lowell. Phone: 1-978-452-7782. Web:

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito