As the calendar turns to March and a large chunk of the country turns its attention to basketball, one new kid on the block is tipping off its first fundraiser. Whiskers-n-Paws, a brand new nonprofit dedicated
to animal welfare, has been selected for the Brackets For Good fundraising tournament.
Co-founded by Cindy Lauer and Jennifer Kline, the mission of Whiskers-n-Paws is multi-pronged with focuses on spay-neuter, wellness, and enrichment. The nonprofit animal welfare organization is committed to keeping community cats and companion animals safe, happy, and healthy in Fayette and Coweta.
“We saw some gaps in services and felt we could service the growing need to assist animals in the area. Through education and engagement, we will be a catalyst for cultivating transformative change in our community,” said Lauer. “We just thought what can we do. We know what we want to do is not going to happen overnight,and we’re not going to be making sweeping changes, but we hope to slow down that influx (into shelters), no matter if it’s Fayette or Coweta County. We want to help try to plug some holes.”
Kline agreed that it’s about working together with shelters and rescue groups to ease the load.
“We want to make sure we try to implement solutions to stop the flow into our shelters,” said Kline.
Their push starts with a prestigious fundraiser. Brackets For Good is a bracket-style tournament bringing together nonprofits of all sizes around the country to raise money and awareness for their causes. In six years, it has helped raise over $6 million for a myriad of causes. For every dollar donated, the recipient group gets one point. Groups, both winners and losers, retain all donations whether or not they win the matchup. The winner of each pairing advances to the next round, with the overall winning organization receiving an additional $10,000 championship grant.
“It’s just a fun, competitive way to raise money,” said Kline.
The tournament tips off this weekend with Whiskers-n-Paws facing Peacebuilding Solutions, a group dedicated to assisting refugees around the world. Selected from a pool of more than 2,000 nonprofits nationwide, Lauer and Kline are thrilled just to have been chosen to participate.
“We’re excited because we made the tournament,” said Lauer. “We’re the little guppy in the big ocean. We thought there’s not a prayer we would be picked, and we made it. This is like a David and Goliath story for us.”
The board of Whiskers-n-Paws brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in animal welfare. From hands-on experience to studying at conferences around the country, they’re eager to share their knowledge to help our furry residents.
“We were founded to implement prevention-based solutions within our community to provide much needed support to other animal welfare groups as they work tirelessly to fulfill their mission of rescuing animals. Ultimately, we want to affect change in decreasing our pet overpopulation and enhancing the mental and physical wellbeing of the animals, especially those that are living in confined housing environments as they await their forever homes,” said Kline. “We intend to be laser-focused so that we can affect change relatively quickly in a systematic manner.”
They’ve been inspired by other areas progressively caring for animals, and they want to do the same here.
“You hear about what other communities are doing and the success they’re having, and you think that can work here, too,” said Kline.
The work will be broken down into a few key facets: A trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) program, promotion of affordable spay-neuter and preventative initiatives, and enrichment.
TNVR helps stem the tide of a growing number of cats that have no home. Trappers bring in these community cats, get them spayed or neutered and vaccinated, then return them to their location, making for one fewer resident at the local shelter. It’s a proven approach that has shown to dramatically reduce the feral cat population, and one that benefits everyone.
“If we can implement programs that save taxpayers money, why isn’t that a win?” asked Lauer. “I don’t think people would be opposed to that idea.”
With a background in cat trapping, Lauer and Kline will put a focus on working with community cats. They’ve heard from so many people facing a glut of cats that it started with just one and it was 20 cats within a year. They’ve already made an impact, too. At their most recent Art of Cat Trapping Clinic, they had nine participants. Three got right to work that week, trapping 15. That’s 15 fewer cats birthing more kittens and filling up the shelter. Instead, the felines are healthy and safe. They will also offer a variety of other classes geared towards helping animals.
“We want to be that resource for the community,” said Lauer. “Take these free classes, learn a little bit, share the knowledge.”
Next will be preventatives, including heartworm and flea-tick prevention. Most importantly will be affordable spay-neuter options.
“We hope they consider animals part of the family, and that’s where the preventatives come into play,” said Lauer, noting they will reach out to low-income neighborhoods in the area, raising money to help in the short term while educating pet owners about their options. “If we can help keep those pets in the home and if we can get the pets in the home that are tethered in the backyard, we can help break the cycle.”
Aiming to keep animals healthy, enrichment will come into play. They will work to educate pet parents and shelter staff on easy ways to stimulate their furry friends. With just a few minutes a day, they can make a huge difference.
“Mental enrichment programs support the sensory needs of the animals and help to decrease the animals’ fear and stress,” said Kline. “The littlest things can make a big difference in the life of that animal, and that makes them more adoptable.”
To donate to Whiskers-n-Paws as they participate in Brackets For Good, visit www.bfg.org.
For more information on Whiskers-n-Paws or to find out how to get involved, visit www.whiskers-n-paws.org.
Get to know Whiskers-N-Paws by joining them for a launch party this weekend. They will host a pair of gatherings, one in Senoia (Saturday, March 3 from 3 to 5 p.m. at Maguire’s Irish Pub) and one in Peachtree City (Sunday, March 4 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Crosstown Grille).