In the beginning…
It all begin one dreary October evening in 1993. Marie Aldred, founder of Furry Friends Animal Shelter, was taking the garbage from her restaurant to the dumpster when six small, furry animals jumped out. Shocked and surprised, Marie closed the lid and whipped back inside her restaurant. Two nights later as she followed her normal routine, more small critters scrambled from the dumpster. Marie noticed that a tiny, wet, miserable-looking kitten was left behind. She took him in and gave him scraps which he devoured. This little kitten had eyes like saucers and they cast a spell on Marie...
Marie had never owned a cat because she suffers from severe asthma, but she took the little kitten home. She and her son bathed and fed the kitten and put it in a warm bed. They called the kitten "Tiger" because of his brown fur and black stripes.
As Marie told her customers the story about Tiger, one of them expressed an interest in taking the kitten. As more cats and kittens emerged from the dumpster, Marie bought a large bag of food and put some out. At least 30 cats came to dinner! As the temperature dropped, she warmed the food so it wouldn't freeze as quickly. In the morning, the food would always be gone.
But the cats deserved better and Marie had a plan. She caught them and helped one at a time. The first was Daphane, a large, grey-black tabby. It took four months to gain her trust before she was spayed and given to a great home. Over the next two years Marie caught, tamed and found homes for over 100 cats and kittens. At this point, she named her operation Pet Rescue and many people joined to help stray, abandoned felines (in 2000 Pet Rescue became officially incorporated as "Furry Friends Animal Shelter").
Five years later, they moved into their first shelter. There was no heat or hot water, but the cats and kittens had a roof over their heads. A thrift store helped pay part of the rent, but every day, more and more cats arrived. The response was always "we'll take them". After two years with no heat and electric heaters old and in bad repair, it was decided to move to a new, better shelter. This newer shelter had heat and water, but very high rent. Sadly, the building wasn't insulated and the hot water tank kept freezing. Again, it was time to move on.
The next location at 11 Hart Drive, Unit 4 was a dream compared to the other shelters with heat, water and a lovely large area so cats could be split up. In 1999 Furry Friends was also blessed with the opportunity to adopt out cat and kittens at the PetSmart adoption centre. Every year over 1,000 cats and kittens are adopted.
In July 2011, we moved to our current location at 25 Hart Drive, Unit 15, which is even bigger and better than before.
Furry Friends has never had paid employees. Volunteers run the shelter and the adoption centre at PetSmart. Money is always tight and generous donors help cover the costs. Caring for animals that have been abandoned and/or abused is very demanding. Without a network of foster homes where these poor little critters can receive the TLC and social skills they require, the success rate would not be as high.
Furry Friends Animal Shelter will continue to rescue, care and find homes for as many of Barrie's little "Tigers" as we possibly can.