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Student-run shelter helps cats find new homes

Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 9:36 PM CDT
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RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -A purr-fect partnership with the Dunn County Humane Society is giving a group of students at UW-River Falls the chance to learn about cat behavior with hands-on experience.

It’s also helping some special felines find their fur-ever homes.

An animal science class at UW-River Falls focuses on the care of pets.

As part of that class, the Falcon Feline Adoption Program was born in October.

It’s helping students learn while also preparing shelter cats for a new home.

This classroom is filled with climbing towers, toys and two furry friends: Wheezer and Joe.

“A lot of times these cats come here, and they’re scared because they’ve been in a shelter,” said Grace Berends, a student in the class and the program’s student leader. “They’re only in a kennel, and they haven’t really been socialized. They’re strays or unwanted cats, and so they don’t really know what’s going on.”

As part of the Advanced Canine and Feline Management class at the university, the students run the Falcon Feline Adoption Program.

It started as an idea by the class’ professor who’s been partnering with the Dunn County Humane Society for around eight years.

Students work to socialize and care for the cats like Wheezer and Joe from the shelter.

“It’s fantastic to see these cats that I’ve sent up here from the shelter that would hide in the back of their cage now they’re walking around, jumping on couches, and coming right up to people,” said Jamie Wagner, the kennel manager at the Dunn County Humane Society. “It’s just fantastic. It gives me goosebumps just talking about it.”

Some of those cats Wagner has sent to River Falls have required special diets or needed a little extra care.

She says the students have been up to the task.

Since its start in October, the students helped 11 cat find their forever homes.

That’s one of the best parts for student Ali Thome-Hough.

“Seeing the follow through with the cats from when they first get here to seeing them go to their fur-ever homes--it’s been so fulfilling,” Thome-Hough said.

To get to that point, she says it takes collaboration from across the campus and the community.

Every Wednesday afternoon, any student and even community members can come meet the cats.

“One day we had 40 students come in here at one time,” said Sierra Jossart, a student on the Falcon Feline Adoption Program’s physical health team. “It was amazing to see everyone come in here, and we had to cycle through people, and we had to limit people’s time because there were so many people in here.”

While the Falcon Feline Adoption Program plans to take a break for the summer, it hopes to return in the fall.

The program hopes to get Wheezer and Joe adopted before the end of the school year at the beginning of May.

If you’re interested in giving these two friends a fur-ever home, click HERE.

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