A small unobtrusive house near Porter Park contains many unlikely residents.
Inside, heaps of fuzzy kittens with fur licked every which way mewl in synchronized choruses. A fat, orange cat nervously pads from room to room as cats of every other color and size lounge on mismatched towers and fur-covered beds.
A heavily pregnant 6-month-old female, far too young to have kittens, brushes against any hand that comes near.
This house — with its few rooms crowded with cats, litter boxes, food, toys and more — is Rexburg’s Superhero Animal Rescue. But after years of saving cats and serving the community, this superhero organization needs some saving of its own.
If you pay attention to its name, you’ll notice that Superhero Animal Rescue is a rescue, not a shelter. As a rescue, it gets no government funding and depends entirely on donations.
It also is 100% volunteer-run, from temporary volunteers to every member of the board.
“Shelters take in a wide variety of cases while we specialize in rescuing cats that wouldn’t have a chance otherwise,” said Karley Bacon, social media manager and behavioral specialist. “We go out and catch cats in danger ourselves, and we take in rescues from community members who saw a need and wanted to help. The work we do is crucial because many of our rescues would have either died outside or been put down if we weren’t able to help them.”
Many of the cats they save are disabled, young, abandoned, bred for looks and unable to survive in the wild or otherwise in need of special care. Since it is a no-kill rescue, even if a cat never gets adopted, the volunteers will provide a safe place for it to live out the rest of its life.
Every cat they take in gets updated shots, spayed/neutered and any other medical care it may need.
The rescue never runs out of felines to find and care for, as Rexburg has a large population of feral cats with a big inbreeding problem. Besides feral cats, pet owners will sometimes abandon their cats at the rescue — even when the rescue is full and doesn’t have the resources to take them in.
“We urge pet owners to spay/neuter their animals,” said treasurer Alekzandria Peugh. “The biggest reason we are so overwhelmed right now is because of the overpopulation of cats in Rexburg … Neglecting to do so can have long-term consequences. It can impact their behavior, health and overall well-being in ways people don’t even realize. Even if a cat is indoors all the time, it needs to be spayed/neutered.”
Besides the regular challenges of being the only rescue in a town overflowing with cats, spring 2022 is a particularly challenging time as the rescue juggles kitten season, close calls with dangerous illnesses and multiple fundraisers. The fundraisers are even more essential than usual, as the feline-filled house is about to be sold.
The owners of the house used to run the rescue that was there before Superhero Animal Rescue, but now, they are taking a step back and moving on, which means selling the building. If Superhero Animal Rescue can buy it, they wouldn’t have to move.
However, since they run entirely on donations, this idea requires a tremendous amount of fundraising and public support.
“If we owned this building and it were ours, we would be able to sustain ourselves really well with our donations because we have awesome people supporting us,” Bacon said.
A GoFundMe page that has been running for a few months has raised over $23,000 out of a goal of $200,000. Two garage sales brought in about $3,500, and the team continues to hold monthly raffles for special items like large cat trees.
Besides local fundraisers, Peugh is working on writing grants and chasing sponsorships to help make it to their goal.
Although there is a long way to go, there are many ways anyone can help Rexburg’s Superhero Animal Rescue.
Monetary donations can be made by contributing to the GoFundMe page, participating in raffles, buying items on the rescue’s Amazon wish list or sending money through Venmo or PayPal — all listed on the rescue’s Facebook page.
Besides money, consider adopting a cat of your own, volunteering at the rescue or simply educating yourself on good cat care and sharing the message so others can help too.
According to the front page of the organization’s website, “Our wish is that no animal endure the pain and suffering of a life of abandonment and neglect. We strive to help cats in need through sheltering, adoption, education, spay/neuter, and community outreach.”
The dedication of many volunteers and community donors proves that these are not empty words. After countless hours of work and hundreds of cats saved each year, this small rescue is turning to the community it helps to ask for some help in return.
Hopefully, this tail will have a happy ending.