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Cat rescuer seeks sanctuary funds

May 18, 1999|By ANDREA ROWLAND

MAUGANSVILLE - She found Bandit at a Sheetz store, and pulled Snickers from a dog's mouth. Arsenio just drifted into her life, but Callie started it all.

Maugansville resident Tina Miller said she was 11 years old when learned that wild cats can be tamed.

Callie, the feral kitten that stole away with a meatball in a rat trap, and bit Miller after she rescued the feline from an abandoned building, now purrs contentedly on Miller's lap.

Miller, 35, wants to do more to help her furry friends.

That's why in March she founded Friends of Felines, a charitable organization geared toward providing sanctuary and health care for area strays.

Her motto is, "Working for a No-Kill Nation."

Miller, who works for a publishing company and owns a home improvement business with her husband, said a San Francisco animal shelter's success story motivated her to try to save strays on a larger scale.

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She said a philanthropic couple gave the struggling director of that California "no-kill" shelter $200 million to expand and improve his operation.

"There's more where that came from," she said.

Miller said there are many colonies of wild cats in the Tri-State area. She said she has seen some 20 felines slinking around a community swimming pool.

A multitude of "plump and beautiful" kitties feed outside a well-known Hagerstown restaurant, Miller said.

"I believe in spaying and neutering," she said.

She hopes to "provide a sanctuary and medical care for unwanted and stray cats." Eventually, Miller said she would like to employ an in-house veterinarian.

Fund raising is the top goal, Miller said.

"I'd just like to raise enough money to put a down payment on some property," she said.

Miller estimated she will need $10,000 to create an expansive, enclosed area for resident cats, and to renovate an indoor facility for shelter and medical needs. There has to be enough room to separate sick from healthy cats, Miller said.

She has been selling homemade candy for her cause, and said she is planning a summer bonanza to raise funds.

The owner of "Jam Babies Productions," a karaoke entertainment supplier, Miller said she will organize a grand-scale karaoke contest to raise more money.

She said she is networking through friends and the Internet. Already, Miller said she has compiled a list of people willing to adopt strays.

E-mails have been sent to similar organizations for information, Miller said.

Her charitable organization, which was authorized by the state in March, will be largely staffed by volunteers, Miller said. She said she also hopes to enlist the aid of area students who need to earn community service hours for graduation.

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