Updated: September 27, 2020 10:58 PM
Created: September 27, 2020 10:19 PM
“Ginger, hi honey,” Aimee Rock said softly to one of the 17 rescue cats now in her garage.
“Ginger, we think, is one of the alpha females,” she tells a visitor.
Rock, a former veterinary technician, lives in St. Croix County, Wisconsin, with her family and four cats of her own.
But this weekend, she’s on a mission to help a neighbor.
"It's heartbreaking,” she said. “I'm heartbroken for him. He obviously loves these guys. He just shows his love in a different way."
Rock recently learned a man in his 60s who lives nearby had more than 60 cats in his house.
And he was overwhelmed.
"They didn't get proper veterinary care like they should have. They kept reproducing,” she said. "He loves them all dearly. They all have names. It got to be too much for him to take on, and he's asking for help."
With the man’s permission, Rock began moving the cats out. She says some were underweight and dirty but otherwise were in good health.
The plan is to work on finding the cats new homes.
"Myself and a few other local organizations and rescues are putting together a little makeshift holding area,” Rock notes.
That includes garages of her friends like Kate Nelson, a rescue coordinator with the group St. Croix Animal Friends.
"He did not create this problem. We did,” she said. “A majority of calls come from people like this man who find themselves inundated by stray cats.”
It’s a growing problem. The cat rescue nonprofit Farm, Feral, and Stray says there are between 13,000 and 14,000 feral cats in St. Croix County and 800 in Hudson alone.
"[They're] stray cats that are dumped in the rural areas of Wisconsin and find their ways to yards and homes,” Nelson said. “And people feel sorry for them and feed them."
Which is what Rock suspects happened here.
“Twice a day, everyone gets hand-fed,” she says while giving Ginger a snack.
Rock has set up a crowdfunding page to help out.
"Every $40 donated will spay and neuter, and vaccines. Get the care they need."
She’s found a clinic that can start those procedures on Oct. 1.
Meanwhile, she and her friends are volunteering to help clean the man’s house and help with improvements, making a better life for him and his feline friends.
"We don't want to see anything suffer,” Nelson said. “And we don't want to see people in need going through the emotional upheaval of seeing animals starve to death in their back yard."
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