The “Catty Shack” behind the Berkshire Humane Society is home to wild cats awaiting or recovering after spaying or neutering.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Two non-profit animal welfare organizations have officially joined forces to better serve local felines.

Animal DREAMS, a voluntary organization that helps Berkshire County feral cats, is now part of the Berkshire Humane Society (BHS) for shared administrative processes and streamlined operations.

Animal DREAMS is now called the Community Cat Program and continues to be led by Executive Director Stacey Carver. The organizations stressed that business will continue as usual for the cats, as the merger only affects behind-the-scenes work.

For about seven years, the program partnered with BHS and lived in the shelter after moving from its old location on North Street.

Carver said it would take the bookkeeping away from her so she could spend more time with furry friends. The program will continue to focus on trapping, neutering and returning feral cats (also known as TNRs) and shelter staff will continue to focus on adopting friendly stray cats.

“The years we have already worked together have been great,” she said. “So I think now that we are officially kind of a single entity, I can only see better and better for the cats in our county. “

The merger will also help raise the visibility of other activities such as the Working Cat Program which places cats that are unsuitable for family life in barns, warehouses and other places or businesses for rodent control.

Animal DREAMS was founded in 2001 to care for and promote acceptance of feral cats in the county. To Carver’s knowledge, this was the first local program to focus on feral cats.

Generally, a feral cat is a cat that is not considered adoptable. They are terrified of humans and unable to adapt to domestic life because they were raised in the wild.

“I compare them to a squirrel or a raccoon, they’ve never been addicted to a human, so they don’t know it’s okay to trust a human, they’re basically like a wild animal.” , Carver explained.

Previously, the program would canvass neighborhoods to identify cat colonies, but now relies heavily on calls to find them. Because Animal DREAMS has become well known, they regularly receive advice from residents or existing caretakers who are concerned about a cat or kitten.

Traps are carried out by the Carver team and concerned citizens who are guided through the process with an educational tutorial and handout. During the active season, it has around 12 volunteers.

Because they are located at BHS, it is convenient to place some cats directly in the shelter or reunite them with their families, if possible.

Stray kittens are generally more likely to be able to socialize and be placed in homes. Since working with the shelter, the Animals DREAMS foster kitten program has grown.

“And this is the other great advantage of our collaboration, is that often, people who do not know us, or who perhaps do not know it better, trap a wild cat without understanding that wild adult cats As if they “were born wild, it’s very unlikely that they will ever warm up to become an adoptable type domestic cat,” Carver said.

“So sometimes people just say ‘oh, he’s a cat, he has to go to the shelter,’ trap him, bring them shelter, but here’s basically a wild animal stuck in a shelter that’s panicking. Their health will start. to degrade. decline, either because they hurt themselves by not eating or by self-injuring, obsessively licking themselves, things like that. try to touch me? ‘ So through our collaboration, we were able to help with that. ”

In 2014, the two organizations joined forces to obtain a TNR grant. In the same year, a “Catty Shack” was set up on BHS property to temporarily house feral cats while they wait or recover from spay or neuter surgery. Animal DREAMS has also been allocated an office in the administrative office.

Due to the low overhead costs, Carver said the program has been able to direct almost all of its generous donations to the medical needs and costs of the cats. For this reason, they have decided to keep a separate bank account, and donations intended for Animal DREAMS go directly to TNR through the Community Cat program.

Both entities are excited about the merger. In a press release, Berkshire Humane Society executive director John Perreault said it was “the natural culmination of a great relationship between two like-minded organizations and that the ultimate beneficiaries of that – these are our feline friends “.

Carver predicts that the change will also have a positive impact.

“Working together and having such success working together is really going to continue to save the lives of more and more cats,” she said.

Keywords: Berkshire Humane Society, cats,