Feb. 19—A group effort is underway to help a colony of feral cats in Richland.
Best Friends of Baker Inc. is working with other organizations after a call from a Richland resident who lives next door to the property where an estimated 80 cats are living.
Phoenix Dawn wanted to help her neighbors, so she reached out to Best Friends and created a Go Fund Me account.
"There were about 30 cats inside and maybe 50 cats outside," said Farrell Riley-Hassmiller, the volunteer cat coordinator with Best Friends.
Groups working with Best Friends to help the cats and kittens are: New Hope for Eastern Oregon Animals, Blue Mountain Humane Society in La Grande, Pendleton Paws in Pendleton, Fuzzball Rescue and Cat Utopia in Hermiston, Oregon Humane Society in Portland, and Cat Adoption Team in Sherwood Oregon.
"It's amazing," Riley-Hassmiller said.
In addition to providing medical care to the cats that need it, Best Friends is seeking to spay and neuter the animals as quickly as possible to prevent further breeding and an increase in colony's population.
Baker County is at a disadvantage as there is no shelter for cats locally.
"That's why most of these cats are going elsewhere," Riley-Hassmiller said. "We're very fortunate to have that network and to be able to help."
Riley-Hassmiller said Best Friends is using vouchers from the Mollie Atwater Spay and Neuter Fund to help Dawn.
"We are providing vouchers, helping her (Dawn) with the trap effort," Riley-Hassmiller said.
New Hope had made a donation to an account in Dawn's name at the Animal Clinic of Baker.
Blue Mountain Humane Society was willing to take on all indoor cats at their facility as a holding space before sending them to the other rescue homes. The Humane Society will process the cats, check them for ringworm and pneumonia, and assess how social the cats are.
From there, a majority of the kittens were sent to Fuzzball Rescue. Several cats and kittens with ringworm were sent to Pendleton Paws and Cat Utopia.
The Cat Adoption Team in Sherwood, south of Portland, had agreed to take the cats and kittens who were positive for Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and immunodeficiency (FIV), Riley-Hassmiller said.
The Oregon Humane Society agreed to take in the senior cats who are social, and the organization sent a truckload of donations including food, kennels, supplies and other items. The Oregon Humane Society plans to send another load of supplies.
"It's still a work in progress," Riley-Hassmiller said. "As cats are going to the vet and going home, they're staying indoors. The caregiver's still attempting to socialize them more."
Although the effort has raised $1,600, Riley-Hassmiller said another $1,200 is needed to deal with the entire Richland cat colony.
She said people who want to help by making donations can do so on the Best Friends of Baker website and through their Facebook page for the Mollie Atwater Fund.
"The Mollie Atwater Fund is a program that's been around quite a while and it's also designed to help other Baker County residents. Everyone is welcome to use it who has a financial need," Riley-Hassmiller said.