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New pet rescue group believes anything is 'pawsable'

by MONTE TURNER
Mineral Independent | November 29, 2023 12:00 AM

“We had a tiny kitten that had been attacked by a dog dropped off, and we had to get veterinary help. We raised more than $500.00 in less than eight hours. Unfortunately, the baby passed despite our best efforts and all our prayers. It’s part of rescue that Debbie and all of us volunteers have to handle,” shared Glenda Wallace with the newly formed SOAR 54 (Supporters of Animal Rescue 54).

The new animal rescue group that has started up in Mineral County is headquartered at 48 Country Lane in Superior, with Debbie Burleigh as the principal organizer. Burleigh and her husband feed, house, and care for the kittens and cats that they take in on their property, on their front porch of the small house. 

“I was shocked to see how cats were treated here (Superior). More like rodents in many situations,” she explained on how this animal rescue came to be. The Burleigh’s moved from Utah 2 years ago where Debbie had been a devoted volunteer at a no-kill shelter so she has experience in this endeavor that started August 11. “That’s the day we rescued 20 kittens from a home that had about 50 cats and kittens which had become wild animals.” (SOAR54 eventually rescued the felines and most have been adopted).

 To find out if there was any curiosity, Burleigh said, “I sent a message through Facebook asking if anyone would be interested in starting a rescue, or something like that. I found out that the word ‘rescue’ is a dirty word here because so many (rescue groups) have started and quit. Everybody was a little afraid. But we had a meeting and it was quite successful. I noticed that a lot of them were leaders in the community that loved cats and shared my frustration.” 

So, another meeting was held on what to do and how to move forward, where she told the group that she just wanted to get the ball rolling and wasn’t interested in titles or positions but just to get working. And they did, not knowing where this was going but were eager to help the animals.  

“We kept getting together as much as we could. I did the Facebook page and that just completely buried us.”

 The Facebook page is their best form of communication and a website has just launched, www.    supportersofanimalrescue54.org. 

They have held one spay-and-neuter clinic and are considering another one. This, they hoped, would become a revenue stream but even with the discounted services they receive, it won’t be a money-maker. Donation "Cat Cans" are on many merchants’ checkout areas, and flyers have been posted informing people who they are and what they do with a small plea for financial assistance. The paperwork for becoming a 501C (3) has been submitted as they are funded solely by donations.

Meanwhile, the rescue inventory is started to build. 

“I knew I’d do pretty good with adoptions. I always have,” Burleigh said. “Everyone worked so hard and we don’t know how it happened, but it did.” 

She said the word is getting out and the entire group is so grateful for the support they are receiving. Some donors have dropped bags of food and kitty-litter off that she finds in the morning. 

Adoptions average about three a week and a little over 100 cats and kittens have found homes. 

“We’ve gotten care for every one that was sick. Every injured animal. We’ve done it all and been able to pay for it and keep up,” she said. 

Dogs and puppies are included in their rescue, but Burleigh said that there haven’t been requests for them since they started. However, she will tell a funny story when she and her husband met a driver in Coeur d’Alene coming from Seattle with six great Dane puppies that ended up eating them out of house and home before they were all adopted.

As far as volunteer recruitment to help the fledging organization, attitude is the most important quality they need. Positive can-do people that are passionate about cats and will jump in on any job, even if they don’t know how to do it, and get to work. 

Currently, Burleigh and her advisory team are putting together a Board of Directors to help move SOAR 54 forward into an official non-profit organization serving Mineral County. 

“We honestly do not want to take sick or injured cats because of the cost it will take for their recovery. But as a very last resort, we will,” Wallace said. “It is so, so sad when we do everything that we can to save them, but they still pass. That is why our motto is, 'We can’t save them all, but we can save as many as WE CAN.'"

For more information on SOAR 54 contact (406) 802-0285 or email 54animalrescue@gmail.com.

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