Animal Rescue of the Week: Episode 26 – Clear Creek Cat Rescue in Alaska

Clear Creek Cat Rescue was originally founded to help find homes for the Mat-Su Animal Shelter’s cat population. Gradually they have expanded to cover a broader portion of the state and to take in cats that are strays or otherwise homeless. CCCR also takes in homeless cats of all kinds, including ferals; they also sometimes accept cats from private individuals and other rescues when there is a need to do so.

To learn more about Clear Creek Cat Rescue, please visit their website or Facebook page!

“Welcome to the ARPA Animal Rescue of the week podcast, featuring outstanding organizations around the country that are helping animals & the people who rescue them. This podcast is proudly sponsored by Doobert.com.  Doobert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues & shelters, and the only site that automates rescue relay transport. Let’s meet this week’s featured animal rescue. Clear Creek Cat Rescue is a group of individuals in south central Alaska who are dedicated to rescuing cats in need. During their stay, they get the loving care they deserve, including any necessary rehabilitation. Without the wonderful support of their Foster’s volunteers, contributors and supporters, they wouldn’t be able to do this life saving work. In 2018 they rescued 444 cats with a 96.4 lifesaving percentage. They’re looking forward to an even better 2019. Hey, Layla, welcome to the show. Hi, How are you? Great. How are you? I’m doing good. I’m really excited to chat with you more today. You are with Clear Creek. Can’t rescue. I had to say that a few times before I called you because I knew I was gonna screw it up, so I’m glad I got it out without stumbling. You guys are actually located in a last Scott. I really just want to dive right in and learn a little bit more about you. So why don’t you share with us a little bit more about the rescue and kind of where you guys are located in Alaska. Thank you for having us so definitely very excited. Well, maybe call it C C C R. I love because we do get this. A lot were based in South Central Alaska and Kenai, Alaska. So it’s kind of the Southern part. We’re foster based rescue all volunteer run, and we take in about 500 cats that year and we have various programs as to how we do this and and how we re home are Kitty’s. We’re really excited to be chatting with you and letting the rest of the world no, What’s going on in Alaska? Let’s dive in a little bit. So 500 cats per year tell me how you guys air helping them. Are they strays? Are they owner surrenders? Are you pulling from shelters? Give a little bit of that picture for us currently primarily taken strays. And if somebody identifies a colony, we tried Thio work without Colony and to re home those kitties. Historically, we started out working with one of our local shelters in what we call the Matsu Valley, and it was the match of shelter. And this was about 15 years ago. Our founder. That’s how she was getting Kitty’s re homed. However, it’s grown into a much bigger organization now. We primarily take in strays or colony Kitty’s Once in a while. You know there’s a situation when a kiddies may be about to become a street kid or somebody is thinking about leaving it outside or maybe taking it to the shelter. So we try to, you know, intervene at that point if we can. How long is the organization been around? Obviously, I’m picking up more than 15 years ago. Is that when it started, or does it go back further than that? Our founders, Miss Judy Price and about 15 years ago, well, she’s been a lifelong cat lover. Sure, she would say her. It’s her second love I haven’t asked with The 1st 1 is, uh so she started doing this just out of the goodness of her heart. She was basically a homesteader in Talkeetna, Alaska, I should say, 20 miles outside of Talkeetna, Alaska. She started doing this about 15 years ago, kind of of her own choosing or out of the goodness of her own heart. And in 2010 is when she filed for the nonprofit status. So that would be nine years ago. Officially, that Clear Creek Cat Rescue has been a non profit organization or a nonprofit rescue. So since then we’ve grown in the number of volunteers and in how much funding we’ve secured, in which grants we’ve gotten in projects that have that we’ve developed. So 15 years ago, she started pulling cats from shelters, which is often how rescues start. She did that for five years before she probably said, I need more help. I want to do more. I want to be more. I wanted, you know, to make a bigger impact. I’m curious what that transition was like and when that happened, because now you’re you’re saying that you guys kind of focus on the stray cats and the colonies and Rijo mean so at what point did that shift happen from Miss Judy pulling from shelters to going to nonprofit and now focusing on stray cats. From what I understand is she was living in the middle of nowhere. Alaska and a lot of people tend to, you know, leave cats in the fields or in the woods. From what I understand, she was picking up these cats and taking them to the shelter for care and what not? And she would then try to re home them kind of directly from the shelter, just going to be an advocate for the kiddies. And after doing this for several years, the shelter staff kind of, I think, encouraged her to get her own rescue started because she was basically running a rescue out of their shelter, sir. So I think that’s just kind of the natural transition happened. I think the shelter staff said, You know, you, you have the know how you have the ability, you have the time and you know we’re here to support you. That’s how she just transferred to kind of looking for Foster’s and making a rescue happen. So I want to dive in a little bit and kind of talk about what that community looks like. We kind of know that. I don’t want to say there’s not a lot in Alaska, right? But at the same time, I think very wilderness, not overpopulated in a lot of open space and really cold in the winter. And so I’m thinking those poor cats and the colonies that are out there. So I want to dive in a little bit and talk about the community and what that looks like for you guys and what you’re doing to help those stray cats. Alaska is definitely vast state. We love the joking and means, you know, comparing us to Texas so absolutely have a lot of land and wilderness. Given that Alaska is so big, they’re significant climates or weather patterns throughout different parts of Alaska. Where we are is not so bad, let’s say, And when I say bad, I mean cold and dark and snowy as it would Norse. So we’re relatively, uh, down south geographically, which gives us someone of a milder winter. I’m no meteorologist, but I think we have a couple of weeks in January where it can get to minus ah 10 20. That’s as bad as it gets here. Where’s there’s other parts where that’s a constant and minus fifties goes for three months or so. That’s also part of the reason living in Alaska and our weather patterns and our temperatures is part of the reason why Clear, create Cat Rescue focuses on rescue stray cats or cast our outdoor in. The elements were based in South Central and Keen Eye Alaska, or we have Foster’s. There were based out of was still Alaska, which is the Master Valley where this operation kind of originally began. We have about 80 Foster’s. Currently, The way we look at taking in cats is basically we triage it by the amount of need. Specifically, they’ve been in an environment, or if they’re sick and they have nobody caring for them or if they’re imminently going to be in danger or anything like that dealing with strays and colonies. How do you know who needs help like, is the community calling you guys? Are they saying there’s a group of cats in this location? Do you have a team that goes out who brings the cats to you? Tell me a little bit about that process. The cats come to us. Um, we almost solely rely on the community. Thio. Identify the kiddies for us. We do have designated people or volunteers who kind of managed the trapping operations and the colonies. And, you know, if there’s a neighborhood kitty that’s straight and kind of skittish, however, it’s, I would say, almost solely through the community. We rarely see cow colonies as we are overloaded. Or at least it feels that we’re overloaded about 100% of the time. Yeah, you know, we kind of have. I don’t want to call it a wait list, but we have a list of, you know, that we look at daily of Kitty’s that somebody is called us and said, Hey, there’s a kitty here and can you come get it? Or how can you take it in? You know, I’ve taken it in because it’s been in the park or, you know, it’s been hanging around my house, and I just needed re homed. So we have a list of Kitty’s that we are waiting to take in at any given point, and it’s solely based on community quest. So the community traps the cats and they bring them to you or they tell you about them, and you kind of work with them to see when you can take them when you have space. Is it kind of like a tea and our program? How does that piece of it work? I would say the community kind of alerts us to the cats, and then we go out there. If it’s in a residential area, you know we need permission from whoever called us or, you know, kind of that neighborhood to set up a trap or, you know, to figure out if this is anybody’s kitty or if it’s being fed or whatnot. So we figured that part out as faras tnr goes T and R is illegal in Alaska, so we do not do any TNR. So what we do is if we get a kitty that’s not anybody’s kitty or it happens to be a skittish kitty or possibly even feral. We have a couple of projects where we can kind of re home them in a safe environment and into a place where they’re going to be cared for. So that’s definitely a big difference, you know, in Alaska versus the other states, when you say you re home them? Tell me about the program that you’re using to kind of re home and how you identify where to place them. Particularly we do have, I want to say, the only Barn Cat project in Alaska, and I think that’s we call it The Bard kept Project Perfect. I like it way also have another program, which is kind of a socializing program through our outreach program that we call the Houston House. It’s a partnership with a local shelter in Houston, Alaska, which is, Ah, small town up north at the edge of Matsu Valley. So we have those two options where we kind of work on, let’s say, rehabilitation versus kind of figuring out that this kid he really would prefer on outdoor lifestyle kind of bar setting or three. Our Barn cat project in the Barn Cat project. We basically actively advertised for homes which will take our kitties and that are in need of them, given the you know, a lot of people like you, said Alaska’s vast. A lot of people have land and animals and kind of need that, uh, need kiddies as rodent control just in this little ate our area. We really don’t lack for farm homes, ranches and such that take care of the kitties. You know, we set him up, would get him fixed, vaccinated, microchipped and tested for feeling leukemia. And then, you know, we set him up in the home kind, observing for about 3 to 6 months and follow through or follow up with them. And then these farmers ranchers, they provide food and shelter. Heated shelter, I might add. That’s a good thing. So they’re they’re basically very well taken care of. And you know, they’ll alert us if the kiddies get sick or, you know, you know, CMA’s often, and then we tried to kind of figure out what’s going on. If the kiddies are sick, then we trap him and work on getting him better or something along those lines. The other project is the kind of the socialization Houston House project we d’oh! And this is a recent venture for us in the last year. So I’d say we partnered up with the Houston shelter, which is the city shelter to take in their kiddies and if they’re not blamed for Houston City limits and regulations. If they’re not claimed. I think within four days, then they would become Clear Creek kiddies and hashtag kids love that. They basically treat them as our own. Given the Houston is primarily a rural area, we do get a lot of strays who needs socializing? So we kind of have in this little shelter space, which is a really modest large room that we’ve made really cozy. And we have volunteers going there while spending most of the time they’re socializing uses some of the socializing techniques that we actually learned, some from experience and some from oh cat Town in Oakland. They kind of focused on socializing kitties there and re homing their kiddies Who kind of need you. No more socialization to be put in homes. Those air to our major ways to re home are less sociable kitties. There’s a difference between stray cats and feral cats. Is that distinction something that you guys work with in Alaska as well, or do you see more stray versus feral? What’s that ratio if there is one? I would say we see more stray just because I don’t know how much feral kitties or how well they would fare here specifically because of the harsh winters. They have plenty to eat in the summer. But you know, the winters, I think, are harder way for them to survive a lot of the cats and even the colonies that we deal with their typically on outskirts of the farms and ranches and outskirts of these tiny villages that we live in is probably started, you know, with a kiddie getting lost and, you know, it grew from there. Truly, we really don’t even like Chief Steward feral because, you know, rarely see it. And we focus on getting these keys acclimated to living with people and being provided or taking care of by people. So we haven’t found a key that, you know, we can’t help. In a sense often what I herewith rescues is there’s such a huge difference between stray and feral. And what I heard you say is that through the barn cat project in the Houston House program, you guys were socializing, and it was a strange thing for me to hear socializing stray cats. I often lumped stray and feral together, and I know that’s not accurate, but it got me thinking, How are you socializing feral cats. That’s why I had to ask the question, because I know that’s a little bit more difficult to d’oh. But now that I understand what that looks like for you guys, I can wrap my head a little bit more around socializing stray cats who have at one point or another, been around people. Yeah, and I think I do the same thing, you know, using Farrell and strangers because I think the general public understands Ferrell as a scared cat. You know, that’s hissing at you and, you know, maybe clotting factor. So I think I have that football myself. I would say most of our cats have been at some point exposed to, you know, human activity. Yeah, I think the one thing that really stood out to me with your barn cat project is you have a list and people are always looking for those cats and kittens to kind of help with rodent control and and other things. But I like that. They know that there’s that open door policy where if they notice something or if one of them is sick or hasn’t been around for a while, I like that they can call you guys and you work with them to investigate and figure out what might have happened, whether that’s you guys going out there or taking their phone call. I like that open door peace with what you guys are doing on that barn cat project. Yeah, thank you for recognizing that. I’ve never heard anybody kind of say that way to speak to that. It’s kind of our mission and vision and part of our commitment to our community. We are 100% volunteer run organization. We try to give 100% of our funds to Kitty. Care to bet. Care to food? We definitely even in our adoption records, our adoption, e mails or adoption agreement’s. We say Clear Creek is here for the community indefinitely, and we are here 100% for the life of our kitty’s. He doesn’t matter if they’re in the barn cat project. It doesn’t matter if they’re going to Ah, regular adopter who wants a kid in their home. We take back and care for our kiddies throughout their lifetime. That is something that has been just part of C. C c R. For so long, and it may be, it’s still ask a spirit that, you know, we take care of each other and we help each other. When you always say these are our kitties, no matter where they where they are. And even our agreements, you know, state that if somebody cannot care for a cat, no matter which kind of cat it is, we will take it back and we will take care of it. And we’re gonna be here for for our adopters, no matter which project we use them from, it’s just so important to work together in support and either as as a resource and individuals could be resource is as well. And it really sounds like the community is rallying around that, especially for your your barn cat project. So the messaging that is coming across between you guys and the community seems to really be grabbing hold. We really enjoy this, or it comes from the heart. And whenever we let’s raise funds, we like to proudly say that you know, this is going back to the community. This is going back to these neighborhoods or these people who have donated or for whatever reason, we really tried to kind of emphasize the local need and local support. We try to live that criminally resource label, I guess, to the fullest. Yeah, yes. So let’s talk a little bit about that. You had mentioned the fundraising aspect of this. I know that’s a huge part for rescues. So what is that area of your organization look like? Do you plan events? Are they monthly? Give us a little bit about your fundraising in picture. We don’t have any regular fund raisers or, I should say regularly scheduled as we are volunteer based, we often depend on volunteer time, which we try not to overload, overwhelm overextend. So we kind of let it happen at its own pace. Facebook is great for hundreds. It sure is a lot of Facebook fundraising. And given that our community is growing or has grown so much in the last, you know, near decade we definitely raised funds to Facebook. When people submit their birthdays to us or, you know, if we have an injured kitty, you know, like right now we have one that we’re needing funds immediately. The community has always stepped up and taking care of thes Kitty’s social media is big. We’ve tried other websites, but for some reason, and I think this is probably primarily just Alaska, that we don’t get enough online traffic to go to different websites like for different programs. The other aspect is our volunteers are super creative. They’ve done things like cell paparazzi jewelry. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with it. They’ve done things, you know, like any of those places where you know, issued by this, I’ll donate type of thing primarily in the community. We have Adoption Fair’s in person come adoption affairs. During those we tried to provide a lot of education, and typically it’s either in a large market in a summer or regularly A and one of the local pet stores just through education. And sometimes if we’re having, you know, tried to be a part of a national event, you know, we tried to participate, and that’s that often turns into a fundraiser. One of the big things that we do are kind of auctions, so online auctions where we would do a lot of kind of donated goods or activities and kind of auction those off for us to be able to, you know, help our Katie’s fundraising is one of the most useful tools for us. I don’t know how much specifically how much of our funding is from fundraising in an immediate basis. It’s definitely extremely helpful. You guys I know spend a lot of money on that Bell’s vaccinations getting them fixed, et cetera, especially because you guys are foster based. So when people want to foster for you, what are they responsible for versus what do you guys cover? I find this a fascinating topic because organizations do it very differently. So tell us if somebody’s interested in fostering what’s required of them and what do you guys supply our Foster’s? We say we ask them to provide food and litter, and we cover everything else. So spare neuter any vaccinations. Microchipping The feeling. Leukemia test. That’s our standard. You know, if we just took in a healthy kitten or a healthy adult cat, that would be the standard level of care. If there’s any concerns identified, then we further in or take him to the vet and further identify and support that kitty and that foster in turn, we often, especially with our Houston House project in where we kind of take in several cuts at a single time. Andi wasn’t in anybody’s particular home. We fundraised for litter and food, and the committee was so generous and it was so well received often will get donations. And we’ll just kind of spread those out among fosters A lot of fosters. They say we’re fine. We got it. We don’t need any donations at this time, some from time to time, So yeah, sure, I’ll welcome it. Pretty cat food. Why not? We have such a great community, honestly, that we rarely need to buy equipment from litter boxes, two crates or anything like that. So often does air donated to us. So you had mentioned that they cover the food, the letter, the toys, that kind of stuff. You guys cover the medical. Do you work with specific that partners for the medical and the fixing in the vaccination? Or how does that work because you’re covering eight hours worth of area? Yes, it is definitely a large area. Some of these communities there’s only like in a four hour radius or maybe a travesty to our radius. There’s only one that, like our soul dot in the area or homer area and these air just smaller communities on the peninsula in Anchorage where I live and I’m based and the massive Valley. We definitely have a lot more veterinarians, but Alaska in general is really struggling in the department. I think s so we don’t really partner up, you know, with anybody particularly. But we do use like the Saldana and Homer did by default, as the vets are. That’s the only that that’s in the area. We’re not gonna drive a kitty up eight hours to see of that in the matter valley that we use more frequently, you know, as we typically have more cats in that area. So we do what we can in the area that we’re at in Anchorage. So massive alien Anchorage are the largest areas where we have the most kitties or take in the most kiddies, I should say. In Anchorage, we use Alaska S P. C. A. They are the Onley reduced rate, that clinic in Alaska. So I think most of the rescues in Alaska or in Anchorage used those or use them and then we have a couple of other vet clinics like VC, a bearing sea and one of our kind of I don’t want to call my sister shelter, but a shelter that we really worked with closely. It’s the only no kill shelter besides our Houston pounds in the last guides, Alaska Humane Society, so that we use them kind of at the same time. It’s called the CIA, bearing sea since a VC a hospital. And then we have Dr Hagey, who is based out of Trapper Creek, which is the end, really the head of Matsu Valley, kind of closer to our Houston House area or shelter those air the three we probably primarily used, I’d want to say on a daily basis. We have petty are we have to be our hospitals in Alaska or in Anchorage. You’re in this area. I’m not sure about Fairbanks and up north to 24 7 so we use them. We definitely tried to use locally and stay as local as possible, and to take care of our kitty’s in the quickest and most efficient way without a lot of resource is you need to build and keep the relationships that you have, because the lack of options, essentially but part of rescues is about building relationships about maintaining relationships. And I feel like when you don’t have a lot of options, if you will, it’s even Maur important to build those relationships to build that trust. Yes, of course. I think we’re lucky that we have Miss Judy Price. Where’s our founder? That she’s She’s our rescue coordinator. She’s, um, the main person. We turned Thio, and she honestly began a lot of these relationships and has maintained them. So I really want to credit her with that. You know, there’s the new truth, new trend of things. She attracts her tribe. So I think most of us that are part of this rescue, really, you know, believing in her vision and kind of want to be a part of it. We’ve talked about a lot of positive things. One of the things I like to talk about Leela is challenges. What would you say? The biggest challenge with C. C. C. R. Is today. Lack of Foster’s? That’s a good one. That’s a we think big, you know, we have 80 Foster’s over eight hours. We have what we call him foster coordinators. We want to be bigger because bigger means we save more Kitty’s so honestly having a good study based off Foster’s, which we typically have. But like you said so much, you know, we’re all volunteers. One often fosters, you know, will foster one time, and that’s really that really takes its toll on, you know, on everybody involved. I think having that study group of Foster’s Israeli with something what I think most rescues probably crave whenever the number one need we always say is, you know, give us Fosters will figure out howto support them and rally around them and the kiddies they take in, Yeah, especially covering that large bug oven area. I have to believe that, and I’m glad you said that. So here’s the call to action for this call, Right, guys, if you’re in Alaska in that eight hour range, get in touch with C. C C R. And see how you can help with the foster program. Everybody can do something, and if that’s the need, then we encourage people to reach out to you guys and and sign up. I think you have a place in your website right where people can find out more. Yes, so our website is Clear Creek cat Rescue dot or GE and there’s several tabs and how to foster or howto donate or how to help or how to adopt. We really always need community support. This is why you know we exist. Also, our Facebook page is, uh, when we’re really working with a large colony, we often ask for volunteers there and we’ll let you know specifically a show you pictures of kids that need saving and foster homes right now. Um, and that’s Clear Creek Cat Rescue on Facebook and we’re Clear Creek Kitties on Instagram and we share some of our stories. They’re a swell. And, of course, Twitter is to kind of stay in the news off other organizations as well. We’re definitely available, and or I should say, we always looking for more support. Two more volunteers in really, any way, shape or form. So two more things before we wrap up. One is my favorite part of the entire conversation. It’s memorable stories, so you’re new to the cat world is, you said I want to know what memorable story sticks out to you when asked, What’s the one story that automatically comes to you that you want to share. I was. Ah, there. I see a dog lover. Okay, that’s a life. Uh, and I guess I can tell my own story. My first foster was one of a kitten or a couple of kittens who were from a colony in the valley. And they were very, very scared. Um, climbing walls scared literally and with the help of the rescue. And you know, all the strategies and kind of the socializing techniques. I was able to socialize this kitty. He was short haired. Great kitty. His name was great. Bear ended up holding him after, Let’s say, like, four months. It was probably about four months when I got him and, you know, four months in my home I was able to kind of cradle him when he would come to me. To this day, I’m in touch with his adopter. And this story is not a typical for this rescue. We like. I said, even in our adoption agreement’s, we say, you know, we’re here for the lifetime of the kitty, and we’re here to support you. Staying touch. Send this video. Send us pictures posted on social media for us. You know, somebody always knows this kitty that somebody adopted. That’s just one of those stories. I think it’s very typical of Clear Creek, you know, we take in a kiddie that’s so scared nobody can touch it, would have to trap it. And then it’s such a long term relationship that we are able to cherish and enjoy most of the kitty And, you know, with the adopter that speaks to what you guys are all about. The time in the commitment it takes to socialize those strays, and especially the kittens who maybe haven’t encountered humans at that point in their life. It definitely takes time and patience. And I think that describes you guys you know, to a T. Nothing happens overnight. I appreciate a story like that. It definitely think that speaks to what you guys are all about. Thank you are fosters are volunteers and the work that they put in is truly remarkable. You know, we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have these people who are dedicated to open their homes and their hearts and put up with some of the things from these kidneys just to have that vision and be on a mission to say I will help you. You will have to drive long hours, bring him to adoption fairs. You know, deal with them when they’re sick and, you know, stay up a night bottle, feed the do PT when needed for little, you know, legs that are hurting all the all the things that go into caring for, ah, sickly kitten or a stray kitten or kitten who just doesn’t know what it’s like to feel loved by a person just yet. We are here for our volunteers in our Foster’s 100%. So the last thing I want to talk about Leila is what does the future look like for you guys? I know you don’t really schedule any regular fundraising events. Are you guys working on any new programs or any new features for the community that you maybe want to talk about? We don’t have any regular fundraising. However, every adoption event that we have every adoption fair. We really try to provide a lot of education and to our community. So I know that in the upcoming days on the 17th of August, we’re having the clear to shelters event. So we’ll be participating in that, you know, we will have a large adoption fair with lots of kitty’s available and ready for adoption. And we hope to, you know, with the national aspect of it to get a lot of people to come out and toward us and see what we’re about, maybe learn howto you know how they can help it can host affair. Or if there may be interested in fostering. We just hope that they’ll come out and find that kitty that they’ve been looking for. We definitely encourage people to check that out if they’re up by you and we’ll make sure to link to your website and Facebook page in her post. And when we share the podcast as well. Well, I’ve definitely appreciated my time with you. And before we wrap things up, is there anything else that we may be missed? You want to mention? No, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me to, you know, let the rest of the world know about Clear Creek Cat rescue in Alaska and what we d’oh. We really appreciate that. You know, we just look forward to helping more kitties and thank you again. Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you so much lately for joining us, and we’ll be following you in the future. Thanks. Thanks for tuning into today’s podcast.  If you’re not already a member, join the ARPA to take advantage of all of the resources we have to offer.  And don’t forget to sign-up with Doobert.com. It’s free and helps automate the most difficult tasks in animal rescue.”

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