Based in Charleston, West Virginia, Itty Bitty Kitty Committee just may be one of the cutest names for a cat rescue. The 501(c)3 group is composed of a network of fosters who are spread throughout many counties around the Charleston area. Founded in 2010, it is their dream to one day have a facility.
Dorella, one of the founders of the rescue (not to mention volunteer, foster, admin, social media person and more!), says the group has a wonderful board of directors, a reliable network of fosters, and amazing and dedicated volunteers.
A conversation with Dorella
Why did you start the rescue?
I began volunteering with the local animal shelter about 15 or more years ago. Being a volunteer gave me a much better awareness and understanding of the need for rescues…especially for cats. Because I was a volunteer, people would often contact me to help them with their animals. My friend and I decided to start a Facebook page with a memorable and funny name so that people would have a way to network kitties in need. That grew into much more and I believe that it is continuing to grow on a daily basis.
I figured that instead of being the person who comments and says that they wish someone would do something, I would become one of the people who actually did do something.
What region does your rescue cover?
Kanawha County and the surrounding areas. We also have a good working relationship with a shelter in Pocahontas County, and we help their kitties as much as possible. We recently drove all the way to Preston County to help a kitty named Berry (we have renamed Aisley) who needed an amputation.
Approximately how many cats do you adopt out?
It varies from month to month. Last year we were able to save 120 cats and kittens in some way or another.
What is the hardest part about running a cat rescue?
Seeing the abuse and neglect that cats suffer and knowing that there is no way that we can even begin to save them all. We can only do what we can do and unfortunately we can only save a very small number of them.
What is the best part about running a cat rescue?
Seeing the success stories and knowing that I was a part of those kitties being alive and well – and very much loved.
What would you say is the most common misconception about running a rescue?
“It must be so much fun to play with cats all day.”
What’s one thing you would tell someone who is considering starting a rescue?
Be prepared to have it consume your life. Plans are always subject to change because you never know when you will receive a text, email, etc. about a life and death situation that you must remove a kitty from and get it help. If you do not have the dedication to devote 110% of your life to your rescue (if you are the director), then it will not be successful.
Approximately how much money does it take to operate your rescue?
Last year we spent over $37,000 in vet bills alone. We are the rescue who take in the cats who need to have very expensive, but necessary life-saving surgeries, such as amputations, enucleations, orthopedics, etc.
Do you partner with any other rescues?
I volunteer for a horse rescue called Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue. We have partnered with them in the past and plan to in the future for fundraising activities. We will be holding a golf scramble in June with them.
Is there a rescued cat that stands out in your mind?
Oh, there are so many. But one of the most shocking ones was that of a kitty that we called Maximus the Warrior Kitty, who is now known as Charlie. We saw a post on our Facebook page about a kitty that had found his way into the home of the individual who requested our help. He was a thin orange tabby who had rope, hair ties and a carabiner embedded in his neck. He smelled of infection and was miserable.
I rushed him to the Animal Emergency Clinic not even knowing if he was going to survive the 15 minute trip. I thought that there was no hope, but when his veterinarian talked to me about his condition, she said that she thought that she could fix him. She thought right! She pretty much had to sew his head back on his body. It took weeks of hospitalization, months of vet trips and therapy to the wounds and even more love, but Maximus made a full recovery. His foster family knew that they could never let him go, so they decided to rename him Charlie and made him a part of their forever family.
Anything else we should know about the rescue?
The name of our logo kitty is Inky.
What’s a fun fact about yourself?
I recently got the IBKC logo tattooed in purple on my ankle.