Rick Kingston is hoping someone will donate a used Recreational Vehicle to help his more-than-100 cats.
Kingston and his wife have been running Puffy Paws Kitty Haven out of their home on Lakeview Lane for years. More than 100 cats reside in the no-kill shelter, which was registered and licensed with the Florida Department Of Agriculture & Consumer Services in 2006 and granted 501c3 (non-profit, tax-deductible) status in March.
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Kingston has adopted out 125 cats from his home since early 2007, but in November he was dealt a major setback: a Sarasota County code enforcement officer showed up at the door to inform him that he was in violation of a code forbidding home-based businesses in his area.
So the family has been taking cats to Port Charlotte so they could attract the attention of PetSmart shoppers and maybe get new homes. That didn’t work out.
“The cost was prohibitive,” Kingston said, referring to the amount of gas and the time it took to ferry cats back and forth. “We took down 10, three got adopted out and the rest are cage-stressed.”
So Kingston has a new idea: an RV to function as “their own little hotel room.” His brother-in-law, Ray Guilfoyle, will remodel it into a mobile adoption center that could sit outside the haven’s donation center, or it could travel to major events in town, such as Pioneer Days.
All he needs is someone to donate a well-running RV to the Haven. They will get at least a $4,000 tax deduction in return, a figure Kingston came up with from studying craigslist.
“It could be small, it could be big,” he said. “But it needs to run.”
Kingston said his cats had a difficult time adapting to being caged at PetSmart, as they run free in his house.
“Puffy Paws is a bed and breakfast for cats,” he said.
His wife, Chrissy, spends most of her time looking after the animals, sleeping in small increments at night so she can get up and medicate the kitties who need it. The 2000-square-foot home is divided into separate areas, including a room devoted to those made into pariahs by the other cats.
“We just don’t believe in cages,” he said.
He said his cats developed physical symptoms exhibiting their discomfort from being caged, ranging from falling-out fur to upper respiratory problems from a weakened immune system.
Even so, he is now taking one cat at a time to the Loving Care Animal Hospital, where there is a cage available to showcase adoptable cats. He can’t show them at his donation center, which most people call a thrift store, and he can’t show them at the Haven because of zoning. Loving Care is a much shorter trip than the Port Charlotte PetSmart, which is easier on the cat and the Kitty Haven co-owners.
An RV would help.
“At Puffy Paws Kitty Haven we improvise, adapt and overcome,” Kingston said. “Since we can’t have open houses, I think this is the best idea to get the cats forever-homes.”
To contact the Kingstons, call 941−623−8904. For more information about the haven, go to http://puffypawskittyhaven.com/index.html
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