Until recently college students and sisters Joy and Jane Reyes called themselves “amateur cat rescuers.” Self-proclaimed cat lovers, the women did what they could to rescue and rehome strays in their Las Vegas, NV neighborhood.
Last year the sisters became active volunteers with Heaven Can Wait Animal Society, a nonprofit organization in the area that has spayed and neutered more than 80,000 free roaming cats, after Joy came across a feral cat colony and thought there must be a better way to save these animals. Joy and Jane were introduced to Trap-Neuter-Return programs for feral cats and on their first attempt to trap cats for a spay-a-thon, they arrived at the clinic with 10 felines. The following month they trapped 19 cats. In January, Joy found 40 feral cats struggling to survive and the women began their greatest rescue mission.
The project began when Joy walked up to a house while she was handing out flyers about a Heaven Can Wait low cost spay and neuter clinic for pet owners in an at-risk neighborhood. The students had begun volunteering their time on the weekend, after taking classes all week long at the university where Jane is a wildlife major and Joy is studying criminal justice. Joy found cats and kittens running loose everywhere on the property. She talked with the owner who agreed to let her trap all of them.
The mission to help the cats became a family affair for the Reyes clan. Joy and Jane enlisted support from their parents, Tony and Sofia, who acted as security for the nighttime rescue. For nearly a week the family would arrive at the property at dusk and set out traps using tasty bits of tuna or chicken as bait. They would sit in their truck trying to keep warm until they heard the clap of a trap door shutting tight. Then the foursome would gently lift the trap, label it and cover it with a blanket and stow it in the truck. At about 1a.m. Reyes family would transport the cats to the Heaven Can Wait clinic, give the cats fresh water and go home.
“It was exhausting, but nice that our family worked together,” said Joy.
The process was repeated every night for almost a week. A total of 40 feral cats were caught. Members of the Reyes family checked on the felines every day at the clinic and were especially attentive to those that were held for recovery.
Of the 40 cats, a litter of 4 kittens, one adult and a friendly youngster were kept by Heaven Can Wait for adoption. All have been placed into new homes.
That made Joy especially proud. “It’s nice to know that you helped reduce the number of feral cats, but it’s really nice to know some were adopted,” said Joy.
The woman living on the property has moved away so Joy and Jane have become the guardians of the colony. They go to the feeding site often and the neighbors know to contact them if any new litters are born nearby.
Judy, the Heaven Clinic Wait Clinic Coordinator, is very proud of Joy and Jane and says with their help, “The feral cat population in that neighborhood has been greatly reduced.”
Photo Credit: joyreyes