Recession hits animal lovers

Animalkind, Inc

Animalkind currently cares for 220 cats — and more continue to arrive

By Francesca Olsen
Published: Thursday, July 1, 2010 1:17 AM EDT

The recession has affected everyone, man and beast alike. All over the country, people are finding themselves unable to care for their pets because of economic circumstances, and Columbia County is no different.

One of the cats relaxes on the cat couch in the main cat room of the building at Animalkind in Hudson.
(David Lee/Hudson-Catskill Newspapers)

Katrin Hecker, assistant executive director of Animalkind in Hudson, is well aware of the problem. She accepts cats every day at the no-kill nonprofit on the 700 block of Warren Street, as well as providing free spay/neuter services, medical care, food and litter for the extremely impoverished, and free adoptions.

Katrin Hecker sits with about 50 of the more than 220 cats in the Animalkind shelter on Warren Street in Hudson Wednesday.
(David Lee/Hudson-Catskill Newspapers)

“This is a particularly horrible year because of the economy,” she said Wednesday. Job loss, sickness without health insurance, and other uncontrollables lead many to have to give up their pets.

“Those people still love their animals,” Hecker said. “Sometimes, their pets are their only kind of family connection and suddenly, they can’t care for them anymore.”

Adoption rates are down and the number of cats accepted at the site continues to grow — 220 cats currently wait to be adopted. Last year, she said, Animalkind took in 300 more cats than the Columbia-Greene Humane Society.

On Wednesday, Hecker and her dedicated staff were waiting for a woman from New Paltz to arrive with between eight and 14 cats.

“It’s just one story,” she said. “This happens every day. We don’t really have the space but we’ll make the space.”

A woman named Jodie from New Paltz had been evicted and could find no place to adopt her many cats until she contacted Animalkind.
(David Lee/Hudson-Catskill Newspapers)

Two cats, Hecker said, can create 67,000 cats in two years. “Even if 10 percent live it’s still a lot of cats.”

In the 10 years Animalkind has operated, it has spayed or neutered 10,000 cats, which according to Hecker’s figures, have prevented a staggering eight million kittens from existing.

Animalkind has also found homes for 5,000 cats in ten years. The organization’s budget is $300,000 — more than $130,000 was used last year to spay and neuter and $45,000 was expended on medical care for animals. Most of the budget comes from foundations, donations and fundraisers, which make an average of $10,000 each.

“The problem is, it’s unpredictable,” Hecker said. “We don’t sell a hot item here.”

There were 800 adoptions last year at Animalkind but numbers are way down; only 13 cats were adopted in the last two weeks, Hecker said — someone adopts around one cat a day but the organization receives around eight every day.

Dogs are also tended to in emergency situations — 30 were rescued last year. Hecker said she’s not going to turn anybody away.

All of the cats at Animalkind are spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. They come with a month of free insurance. They’re free to adopt but adoptees must meet the agency’s guidelines.

Cats of all shapes and sizes are available; domesticated cats roam free upstairs, while feral cats are quarantined off. They’re available if you need a good barn cat. Kittens live in foster homes and on Animalkind’s main floor, where they meow at visitors endearingly.

On Wednesday, Crystal came in to turn over her beloved cat to Animalkind. She’s four months pregnant and is moving in with her aunt before the baby comes to save money, but animals aren’t allowed at her aunt’s apartment unless she wants to kick in another $250 per month.

“This is awesome that they’re here. I’m so grateful,” she said. “It’s killing me to have to bring him here but I can’t bring him with me.”

Crystal said she rescued the cat from an alley in Hudson — his back legs are a little off but otherwise he’s fine.

With watery eyes, she signed him over to Hecker, who said she would put him up for adoption. If Crystal gets an apartment, she said she’d like to take her cat back, but a good loving home would be fine too.

“I hope that you find your mansion in no time,” Hecker said.

“Animals are always the victims of circumstance and that’s what is so heartbreaking about it,” Hecker said after Crystal left.

About 20 minutes later, Jodie showed up with the eight cats Hecker was expecting. Jodie said she’s been trying to get an area shelter to accept them for almost a year but no shelter will, mostly due to capacity issues.

She said she called shelter after shelter, from Warwick to Beacon. “I called them all and they all tell you that they’re full,” she said. They offered to put her on a waiting list, “but at that moment you can’t fathom having these animals six to eight months later.”

Jodie said she was evicted — twice — for housing the cats; she took in a pregnant female a year and a half ago and ended up with many, many kittens. “I had to choose between paying my rent and feeding the cats. I chose to feed the cats,” she said. “And the shelters don’t seem to care. They’re so overrun they really don’t have time to care.”

Eventually she had to put them in a neighbor’s barn. “I would say I called well over 150 shelters,” she said.

Across the street from that barn is a church, she said, and the pastor’s wife had coincidentally adopted a cat from Animalkind. Hecker was contacted and the rest is history.

Hecker said she hopes this story will attract people’s attention and inspire them to adopt a cat or kitten. Aside from adoptive families, volunteers are also always needed — to work, clean, do maintenance jobs, paint, etc. and donations are always accepted. Hecker said paper towels, bleach, “and money, of course,” are highly needed items.

“There’s nothing we don’t need,” she said. “The only thing we don’t need is more cats.”

Call 518-822-8643 or visit  for more information and Animalkind’s hours.

To reach reporter Francesca Olsen call 518-828-1616, ext. 2272, or e-mail .

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