State High Teachers To The Rescue

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Photo/Raj Anoop

English teacher Jennifer Evans holding two of her four rescued kittens during a Google Meet interview

Raj Anoop(he/him), Staff Writer

It has become increasingly common in State College to find stray cats outside. They may be wandering around a neighborhood, hiding underneath a shed or bench, or sleeping within dense shrubbery. These animals are in serious danger of starvation, disease, and other harsh environmental conditions. While feral cats can be brought to shelters like Centre County PAWS for treatment and adoption, members of the State College community have the ability to help. That’s exactly what a group of teachers at State High did.

English teacher Jennifer Evans was one of the major players in rescuing these stray cats. She and her boyfriend have already volunteered at PAWS, so they have much experience in getting stray and feral animals the care that they need. She decided to do something about the recent rise in the number of feral cats.

“In May, on the Facebook Greentree page, someone posted: ‘Hey there’s a kitten wandering outside my house. Does it belong to anyone?’” Evans said. “So I texted Ms. Rito (English teacher), and she said ‘I just saw, I was going to walk down’ cause it’s only a few blocks from her house. So, I got a box and some food and a string, like a toy. I got in my Jeep, I had a mask on, and I went to her house, and we went to the area where the kitten was supposed to be.”

When they got to where the kitten was supposed to be, they heard a faint meow coming from a lilac bush in the surrounding area. Evans and Rito managed to pluck out a black kitten who Evans now owns and has named Bandy (pictured above).

From here, Evans and Rito found Bandy’s mother and her siblings hiding in a drainage ditch, but they couldn’t reach them. Later on, a different set of neighbors found the kittens living underneath their sheds, and Evans helped them to find care.

Recently, Evans heard from former Building Construction teacher Chris Warren, that there was a cat and her three kittens hiding near his house. She managed to trap them after spending nearly three hours. Learning Support teacher Carolyn Fries took them in to foster until they were ready for their next steps. Additionally, Ms. Schunk has rescued a little black kitten and Evans has taken it upon herself to pay for its treatment. It has yet to be adopted.

Since May, this group of teachers succeeded in getting ten cats off the street and into homes, and Evans now owns four of them. Finding the cats, purchasing supplies, trapping them, getting them treated and then finally adopted was quite the ordeal. Without Evans and several other teachers, it wouldn’t have been possible to rescue these cats off of the streets.

“It’s animals for the win!” said Evans as she described why she does what she does. “They completely give me joy throughout this whole scenario. It’s kind of an escape, away from all of these things.”

Evans addressed how much of a struggle living through the COVID-19 pandemic has been for her. Rescuing these cats brought light to her life, and doing such a task for the State College community feels like a reward for her.

When asked about whether or not it ever felt challenging to rescue these feral cats, Evans said it did. However, that didn’t stop her from doing the work that she felt needed to be done, and she’s glad that she didn’t have to do it alone.

“The challenge is outweighed by, you know, the purpose, your goals, and your hope to do something good for the community and the animals involved… It’s a lot of work and hoping that other people will be so kind as to help you because doing it alone is tricky.”

In the future, if one ever happens to spot a stray or feral animal in our community, Evans expressed that she’d be ready and willing to help. Her experience in rescuing animals has prepared her for anything she may face.

“I feel like I’ve learned so much,” Evans said. “I’ve learned a lot about what to do and what not to do with capturing and setting traps, about always having some place to take the animal before you even set the trap, so having a plan for when you catch something. There [are] some things that you’ll need: you need a small space, you need the litter box, the litter, and the food, the finances to be able to take the animal to the vet for worming treatment, how to give them flea baths and flea treatment, how to tame them down… I think that there are a lot of things that are important, mostly space and time.”

Community members who want to play a role in rescuing local feral animals can follow Evans’ example by trapping them and bringing them to a vet for treatment. If possible, donate to or volunteer at an animal shelter like PAWS or Pets Come First. One could always foster pets, especially with the pandemic limiting the amount of pets that can stay at a shelter.

Evans and her fellow teachers have truly worked hard to rescue all of these cats. Let their work set an example for what the community can do for State College.

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