One Pet at a Time
Shasta County Animal Shelter Raining Cats ‘N’ Dogs…
We are still feeling the effects of the COVID pandemic, including in the way of overwhelmed animal shelters. When people stayed at home, they adopted animals and then when they went back to work, they gave them up. This left animal rescues nationwide with lots of pets needing loving homes, making their foster parents the true heroes.
One Shasta County animal shelter is Raining Cats ‘n’ Dogs, and since the early 2000s, founder Renee Estill and her fellow volunteers are saving Shasta County’s furry friends one cat and dog at a time. They are now hoping to switch gears to help control the homeless pet population.
It all started back in 1999 when Estill was volunteering at another animal rescue in Redding. She felt like she could do a few things differently to create a safer space for fostering pets, so Estill and two friends started Raining Cats ‘n’ Dogs. They formed a nonprofit in 2004 and began taking in cats and dogs, fostering them out of their own homes.
Raining Cats ‘n’ Dogs puts a lot of love and care into their rescues, so they are committed to pairing them with good owners. All its fostered cats and dogs are fully vaccinated, defleaed, spayed/neutered, dewormed and tested for different diseases. It only costs $90 to adopt a kitten, though they invest $300 to $400 into one.
“Veterinarian costs have gone up but we’re trying to keep our kitten adoption fees low,” says Estill, mentioning that this is the most kittens they’ve seen in 20 years. Therefore, when someone is interested in adopting a pet, they must fill out an extensive questionnaire and be subject to a landlord check (for renters) and home visit. Many of its rescued animals have already been through a lot, so Raining Cats ‘n’ Dogs wants to make sure that they find a good fit for the animal and owner.
“Many people say, ‘This is like adopting a child’,” Estill says. People have not only adopted dogs and cats from Redding, but new pet parents have come from places like Nevada, Texas and Minnesota. “One pilot even flew his plane over here to adopt one of our kitties,” she adds.
Raining Cats ‘n’ Dogs survives on donations and adoption fees, so fundraising is a big part of keeping the nonprofit alive. “We try to make money to sustain what we do,” she says. To stop the cycle of the ever-growing number of homeless pets on the streets, Raining Cats ‘n’ Dogs is slowly transitioning to becoming more of a spay and neuter assistance program. Only 40 percent of its current business is in adoptions, with the rest of its time and funds spent on getting this new program off the ground.
Since Raining Cats ‘n’ Dogs is a no-kill shelter that keeps animals until they are adopted, a lot of their space can be taken up by adult pets. Estill says it can be hard to let some of the animals go that she has bonded with, but she feels better knowing that they are going to a good home and that it frees up space for another pet in need.
“It is a tremendous amount of work, and it takes a piece of your heart out every time, but it’s bittersweet when they get adopted,” Estill adds.
Along with monetary donations, Raining Cats ‘n’ Dogs always needs donations for cat food, litter and necessities.
When wildfires and other events happen that displace animals, Raining Cats ‘n’ Dogs is usually there with leashes, accessories and more. They have a donation basket set up at the Dana Park Veterinary Hospital in Redding, along with a wish list for Raining Cats ‘n’ Dogs fostered pets.
Raining Cats ‘n’ Dogs occasionally hears from families who’ve adopted pets, and she says that receiving photos and stories of animals in their new furever homes is what keeps her going. “This rescue takes a lot of heart and soul, but it’s worth it with the happy ending,” she says.
For more information about volunteering, donating, or adopting a pet from Raining Cats ‘n’ Dogs, visit www.rainingcatsndogs.rescuegroups.org. •