CHATHAM – For the past decade, the Monomoy Regional High School Animal Welfare Club (begun at Chatham High School) has been rescuing cats and dogs from abusive owners, neglect and homelessness. The club works exclusively with Pleasant Bay Animal Hospital to provide the best healthcare possible to rescued pets.
Paula McMahon, the club’s advisor, says that the public is generally uninformed about what to do if they find a pet in need. “There’s been a breakdown in communication,” McMahon said. “People just don’t know where to call or what to do.”
But the responsibility doesn’t only lie on those who find a particular animal. “It’s important that people report that their animals are missing,” McMahon said. Otherwise, owners will have a lower chance of finding their missing pet.
This summer, Mill Road in Harwich Port has been the site of numerous cat rescues. The Animal Welfare Club has dealt with three significant cat-hoarding situations over the years. Those who own an excessive number of cats, although their intentions may be good, often do not have the means to properly care for them. In one case, the club found a total of 71 cats in a single home. In another, they found 33 cats. In such instances, intervention is necessary. That’s where McMahon and Chatham Animal Control Officer Diane Byers.
The club provides a kennel in Chatham for both cats and dogs, food and dog runs. McMahon and Byers work closely together to care for the animals. Any animal that requires greater medical assistance is taken to Pleasant Bay Animal Hospital. They have helped countless cats and dogs receive proper medical care and loving homes. While McMahon and Byers are in charge of rescuing and caring for animals, students are mainly in charge of fundraising to help pay medical bills.
Their hard work has paid off. Over its decade-long existence McMahon says that the Animal Welfare Club has “pretty much knocked out the feral cat population.”
But their success depends heavily on ordinary citizens to report what they find. To report a domestic animal that looks stray, abused or sick, people should call their town's animal control officer, leaving a message if necessary. To donate, may mail a check to the school at 75 Oak St., Harwich, MA 02645, made out to MRHS (Monomoy Regional School District) Animal Welfare Club.