One Day. The Rebirth of Animalkind
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Animalkind, Inc

One Day. The Rebirth of Animalkind
by Robin Olson, Covered in Cat Hair, September 25, 2013

Animalkind reopening

For many people their day-to-day life may not hold many challenges. There’s a routine of waking up, feeding kids, pets, yourself, of washing a few dishes (or ignoring the mess), of getting dressed, working, playing, resting. Perhaps the challenges are in the in-between moments, how we get to work, if we can fit into our clothes, if we’ve run out of cereal and have to start the day with an empty belly; but more often than not, we can manage those little bumps in the road. But there are also some of us who have suffered a great loss; a loved one dies, a flood sweeps our home off its foundation and crushes it into bits, our town is ravaged by a hurricane and the power goes out for weeks. For those people, even the simple tasks require herculean efforts to accomplish. For those people it is our duty to stop worrying about our own challenges and help them.

Animalkind reopening
Kitty in quarantine
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Animalkind reopening
 he Infirmary with large airy cages. Inset: Doorway to surgery suite. The doorway was reduced in size and moved to the right where you now see a yellow door.
2013 Robin A.F. Olson. T

On May 1st 2012 in Hudson, New York, a small fire broke out in the top floor of a 3-story Victorian building. It was put out fairly quickly, but not fast enough before it set off the building-wide sprinkler system. The water, which should have saved the building from the flames, destroyed it from top to bottom, leaving many inches of water covering the floors. The building was mostly empty of people, but it was filled with terrified and wet cats. The building was the home to Animalkind, a cat-centric shelter.

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Sick kitty in the Infirmary
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Animalkind reopening
One of the lovely new cat lounges.
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Animalkind reopening
Artwork plays a strong role in creating an inviting space for humans and cats alike.
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

In those moments, their day-to-day challenges of trying to raise enough money to buy food to feed their cats, to find cats good homes, to help people who found strays, changed dramatically to having to quickly sort out just WHERE were they going to house their almost 100 cats? HOW were they going to keep the sick, injured, most fragile cats ALIVE? WHO was going to pay for all of this?

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Dreary ruined space turned into a catio/cat lounge.
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Some people might curl up on their bed and just not get up for a few months after such a tragic loss. Running a cat rescue is difficult enough, but to lose a life’s work overnight is unthinkable.

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Senior kitty enjoying sunshine and some love.
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Animalkind could have shut their doors and moved all their cats to other rescues, but they didn’t. They’re the only cat rescue in the area and Katrin Hecker, the Founder and Director of Animalkind couldn’t close the doors, knowing what a negative impact it would have on the community. The community of Hudson, knew what they’d lost, too and many pitched in right away to help Animalkind rebuild.

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One of the cats available for adoption completely oblivious to the crowds surrounding his space because folks were not allowed in the lounges during the open house (good call if you ask me).
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I covered the story of those early days in a few blog posts (listed at the end of this post), as well as doing my bit to help the rebuilding process by procuring large donations of food and litter and encouraging monetary donations from all of you. Even though my own cat rescue group was suffering at the time, I knew I needed to help them. It was too big of a loss to turn away.

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The adoption room after the sprinkler system ruined the floors and sheet rock. This was taken just before the cats were removed from the room.
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

It’s taken over a year for Animalkind to rebuild, between insurance nightmares and having to work out of very cramped temporary quarters; everyone suffered under the strain. I still recall walking through the “bones” of their facility last year with Katrin, as she tried to stay strong seeing all her hard work laid waste at her feet. I told her to focus on the fact that one day it will be all re-done, bright and new. All the cats will be in comfortable surroundings and things can get back to their regular rhythm again. That “one day” would come soon. We just had to keep working.

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 Part of the Surgery Suite showing the HVAC system back in place, cleaned up and ready to go.
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

“One day” arrived last week

I was delighted to make the two hour drive north to attend Animalkind’s Open House. The last time I’d seen the facility, everything was removed, down to the studs. The spaces were dark and scary and empty of life. In my mind’s eye I could imagine what it might look like with new sheet rock in place and new furnishings and painted walls, but what I imagined was nothing in comparison to what greeted me as I arrived at 721 Warren Street.

Animalkind reopening
Panorama showing the main floor cat adoption suites.
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Animalkind was reborn-not just rebuilt. The redesigned space was dramatically better than it had ever been. They hadn’t simply installed new walls and floors. They’d created a bright, colorful, uplifted space with no cages, just glass walls dividing room after room of cats. Cats, who had only been out of their small cages for a week, who were clearly completely relaxed and content to stretch out on a number of different perches and beds. This was not a sad place filled to the brim with miserable frightened animals. It was a palace, what all cat rescues should be-clean, airy, with focus on what’s best for the cats, not the cheapest way to house as many cats as possible.

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Happy cats.
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I loved what Katrin, her Board, her volunteers and donors were able to create. Here was a place that also included art, along with rescuing cats. Animalkind appears to be like a hybrid between an art gallery and cat shelter. There are paintings embellishing large areas on each floor. The walls are painted a patchwork of cheerful colors. There are photos of cats, sculptures of cats, everything cats, everywhere you look. This was a place where you couldn’t be sad, even in the Senior Cat room, where many cats were blissfully resting on soft beds kissed by the sun.

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The Senior Room.
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

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One of the youngest cats looking for a forever home.
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

We visited the Infirmary where volunteers made certain that each and every cat had cuddle time to help encourage them to overcome what ailed them. They understood that pills or procedures only go so far and that love helps the cats make it back to health.

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Lovely senior calico.
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

We didn’t get to see the Quarantine room, but with a house full of cats, I wasn’t too eager to risk bringing something home. The new surgical suite was also closed off but I got to see a bit of it through the window in the doorway. The room had new equipment and cabinets and with their Vet they would be able to do spays/neuters which would not only save the shelter money, but they also extend services to the public. They provide low cost Spay/Neuter services for socialized cats as well as FREE Spay/Neuter for feral cats! What a dream come true for the people who live in the area. I’m sure that now that they’re back on their feet, Animalkind can seriously impact cat overpopulation with their programs.

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The Senior room gets strong sunlight, perfect for those achey joints. Here two kitties enjoy an afternoon respite.
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

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Art and AnimalKind go hand in hand. This lovely kitty adorns the front desk.
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

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A sweet senior kitty playing with a visitors loose shoelace.
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

The Open House was crowded, full of cheerful people buzzing about what they were seeing. From across the room, I saw Katrin. I didn’t even think she’d remember me, but she shouted my name and came over to me. We embraced—a big bear hug. I almost burst into tears when I told her how happy I was for her. There were too many people around for us to have a conversation so I excused myself so she could greet other visitors, but my heart was light as a feather as I looked on with admiration for what she was able to accomplish.

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Outside on the street level looking down into what was once a flooded mess and is now a multi-suite cat adoption facility.
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

She and her team did it. They made it to that “one day” when things would be better again for the cats and we get to share her joy by witnessing Animalkind's rebirth. It was always about making a better place for the cats and this new space is a testament to that.

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This is what all the hard work is for-to know each cat is safe, relaxed and content in their temporary home until their forever homes are found.
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

Animalkind is still putting the finishing touches on their building so there’s still time to be part of their rebirth.

If you’d like to donate simply click this  Donate LINK. Animalkind is a 501c3 non-profit so your donation is tax deductible.

Animalkind reopening
2013 Robin A.F. Olson.


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