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Homes sought for cats before winter sets in

Every morning Cheryl Lampi walks across her back yard to visit the residents of "Kitty Hampton" for a daily dose of innocence and love. From the outside, "Kitty Hampton" looks like a child's playhouse, complete with a walkway, flower garden and w...

Every morning Cheryl Lampi walks across her back yard to visit the residents of "Kitty Hampton" for a daily dose of innocence and love.

From the outside, "Kitty Hampton" looks like a child's playhouse, complete with a walkway, flower garden and wind chimes.

Living inside, however, are eight cats and kittens waiting for new homes. While they wait, the felines play and sleep away the afternoon by basking on a sun-warmed window ledge.

"Next year we hope to put in a pet door and a wrap-around deck that's screened so they can get fresh air," Lampi said.

Lampi is a foster provider for Northern Lights Animal Rescue, a group that provides temporary care and finds homes for misplaced cats and dogs.

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In operation since 1997, the nonprofit rescue group helps overcrowded animal shelters throughout the region by taking in animals. The group also accepts animals from veterinarians and the general public.

Kathy Plesha, chairperson of the rescue group, said the program was originally formed because black colored animals, especially black labs, are the hardest to adopt. They are too common.

"We felt it wasn't fair that all those black labs out there, and all those black cats, weren't being helped. We have really tried hard to devote most of our attention to black dogs. We have so many black dogs in our program and I believe they all would have been destroyed if it hadn't been for us," Plesha said.

Plesha herself fosters four dogs. Pepper, a black lab, lived with Plesha for a year before finding a home.

"She was little escape artist so nobody wanted her, but we finally found the perfect country home for her," Plesha said. "Sometimes it just takes a while to find the right home for a dog."

The group has a handful of foster providers, but more are needed. "We are really desperate for help," Plesha said. The rescue group has 20 cats that need either new homes or foster homes.

Lampi said all the shelters are swamped and the rescue group has experienced its slowest year for adoptions.

"This year is a crisis for everybody," Lampi said. Kitty Hampton doesn't have heat, so her cats need new homes or foster care before winter arrives. An electric heater and new insulation will keep the cats warm during the fall months.

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{IMG2}Providing foster care costs nothing, as the rescue group provides everything from equipment to veterinary care. Lampi said foster providers are responsible for transportation, space and "lots of love."

Lampi said placing animals in foster care has its advantages. An animal can live in a home-like setting rather than a cage in an overcrowded shelter, and it enables possible adopters to get a sense of an animal's disposition.

"People can sit down and bond with who they want," Lampi said.

All adopters are screened and offered a two-week trial period. If the relationship with an animal isn't working the adopter can return the animal.

Grants, donations and adoption fees keep the rescue group in operation. An adoption fee of $75 covers a veterinary check, leukemia negative test, deworming, one year of shots, rabies shots and having the animal spayed or neutered.

The rescue group holds regular adoption days at Petco.

On Thursday, Sept. 19, Lampi will be at the store with her cats and kittens from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

For those interested in adopting an animal or becoming a foster care provider, call Northern Lights Animal Rescue at 729-1485 or 733-0387.

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