It wasn’t her love of politics that landed UGA junior Ansley Singleton an internship with Governor Nathan Deal this summer, but rather, her love of cats.
“During my first week in Atlanta with Governor Deal, my boss told me that my resume stood out to him because of my involvement with the Athens-Clarke County cat shelter,” Singleton said.
Her boss viewed her volunteer work at the cat shelter to be a selfless act which he knew gave her great hiring potential for her future.
Singleton has been volunteering at the Athens-Clarke County cat shelter for three years. Her duties include cleaning the cages, feeding the cats and giving them love and attention.
“What I love most about the cat shelter is that volunteering consists of loving on and giving help to these helpless abandoned animals,” Singleton said. “I am able to rally friends to come with me almost every time I go.”
Not only are people volunteering to go for their love of cats, but also to extend their training in their designated fields of study.
“Volunteering at the cat shelter gives me hands-on experience in the care-taking of animals and not to mention, is a mega-resume booster,” said second year UGA veterinary student, Grace Amante.
Amante says that there isn’t enough of a budget for all of the cats at the shelter to be given proper veterinary care, so pre-vet volunteers like herself are a vital part of keeping the animals as healthy and in as good of condition as possible.
“While there are some volunteers who regularly come and volunteer at the shelter, we are always in need of more,” says Animal Control Superintendent, Patrick Rives.
According to Rives, almost 50 cats are left at the shelter each month. The Athens-Clarke County Animal Control places cats in the shelter that are seriously sick or injured and stray, trapped within a living space or that have seriously harmed another human or animal due to bites or scratches.
The cat shelter is currently housing 278 cats, nearing is maximum capacity of 300 animals.
Part of the problem that the ACC cat shelter is facing, is that it makes surrendering cats very easy to citizens. Athens-Clarke County citizens can surrender a cat Monday, Tuesday and Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. All they have to do in order to give away a cat is provide proof of residency.
“Athens is a college town and a lot of students who want a pet think that a kitten is easier to care for than a dog,” said Singleton. “Once the kittens grow into cats, they lose their appeal to a lot of people and they either abandon them or surrender them to a shelter.”
The cat shelter is allocated $1,000 from the Athens-Clarke County Animal Control Department per year. The rest of their funds come from donations.
“Last year, I collected donations from my sorority and we raised about $300 to donate to the shelter,” said Singleton. “I was amazed that I wasn’t the only crazy cat lady in my sorority and that people were so willing to give.”
“We are in need of better advertising to let people know that these cats are up for adoption,” said Rives. “The majority of our small budget is allotted to feeding and caring for the animals, so our marketing budget is tight.”
Mary Kate Webb recently adopted two cats from the shelter that had been “cat friends” ever since they were picked up by the Athens-Clarke County Animal Control.
“I initially went to the shelter as a volunteer to suppress my need for a pet,” said Webb. “My roommates were in for a real surprise after I fell in love with Mimi and Helen [her two recently adopted cats- of which she chose their names] and brought them home after only a few volunteer dates.”
“My goal in working at the shelter is to try and find these cats a home,” said Singleton. “And while their home is the shelter, I want them to be as loved, healthy and taken care of as possible.”