Local Teenagers Work To Help Felines

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When the story broke on the front page of the Nov. 22 Payson Roundup that the entire cat and kitten population at the Payson Humane Society had to be destroyed, the Rim Country Middle School Builder's Club decided to get involved.

"With the disease, we wanted to help them rebuild and get back on their feet," said eighth-grader Lanie James, club president.

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RCMS Builder's Club members Lanie James, Rachel Haddad, Samantha Riepel and Erin Pitterle, all eighth-graders, hold four of the Payson Humane Society's new cats.

The Kiwanis-sponsored Builder's Club is a service organization that undertakes community projects throughout the year.

Last week, four members of the club took time off from their Christmas break to present the shelter with the fruits of their labor -- a check for $775.35.

Besides James, they included past president Rachel Haddad, Samantha Riepel and Erin Pitterle, all students in the eighth grade.

The money was raised primarily through two fund-raisers, a Christmas dance and a class competition.

"We had a Kitty Kat fund-raiser donation drive where we put milk jugs in each classroom and the kids donated money, and whichever class in each grade had the most money was the winner," James said. "Then we had a Kitty Kat Christmas dance where we charged $2 or cat food or a kitty toy to get in."

Pat Boettcher, president of the humane society board of directors, accepted the check on behalf of the shelter.

"We get a lot of support from the schools, and the middle school is always the big one, but they've never brought in anything like this before," Boettcher said. "The milk jug promotion went on for two weeks, so every kid in the middle school was out there talking to aunts and uncles and neighbors, doing odd jobs to raise money for their class. We've got total school involvement here."

The club specified that the money be divided equally, half going for general care of the cats and half to help build the cat area in the humane society's proposed new building on the north side of Longhorn Road between Highway 87 and RCMS.

"That much money will probably do a whole cat room for us," Boettcher said.

The humane society had to euthanize more than 100 cats and kittens due to an outbreak of feline herpes, an upper respiratory virus that normally strikes younger cats rather than older ones.

There is no cure for the disease, which is easily transmitted from cat to cat.

After the entire shelter was disinfected, the society began accepting cats and kittens on Dec. 11. All felines are now vaccinated for feline herpes when they come to the shelter.

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