Andy Atkinson/The Mail Tribune Melody Spiegel offers cat rescue snacks at her Medford home.
Andy Atkinson/Mail Tribune Rescue cats inside Melody Spiegel’s Medford home.
The Medford woman has found that her advocacy helps increase the number of cats
Sometimes it seems that Medford resident Melody Spiegel was just yesterday the first to sign up to walk the dogs and connect with kittens for the Southern Oregon Humane Society.
She had always dreamed of helping animals but thought the possibility of working in animal rescue was out of reach.
Just seven years after her start as a volunteer, Spiegel is one of the most trusted names and familiar faces in domestic cat rescue.
Often called out by other rescue groups and local shelters, Spiegel, who presided over her own rescue operation last year called Millie Cat, is the “go to” person for everything from trapping and rescue to scrambling for access to limited sterilization and resources Neutral.
While she says it feels like it only started as a volunteer months ago, some days it feels like it lasts for weeks. Her phone starts hopping early every day with texts, Facebook messages, emails, and phone calls.
Community members and pet owners in need of help communicate about stray cats, infected cats, and unwanted cat litter. Sometimes it’s more basic, like advice on how to lock up or help getting enough food for a few days.
Regardless of the reason for their connection, the need persists.
Spiegel said the epidemic of cat overpopulation, a lack of adequate resources, and financial stress for local families served as a perfect storm during the ongoing pandemic.
“Dec. The 13th, 2014 was my first volunteer day at SoHumane. I don’t remember when, but several years ago I said I wanted to have a rescue or sanctuary for me someday. “I wasn’t sure if that would ever be a reality,” she said.
“At first I was just volunteering, but for a long time I felt like something was missing in my life, and as soon as I submitted my volunteer application it felt like a huge weight had been lifted. I knew my goal was to work with animals.”
The 42-year-old’s “essential volunteer stuff” quickly morphed into online groups, outreach to many sanitizing and neutralizing entities and a growing awareness of a massive need. Nine times out of 10, if someone posts on social media about a cat or kitten in need, Spiegel’s name is mentioned.
Last year Spiegel took over the well-established rescue effort and applied for nonprofit status, which is where Melly Cat started in her official capacity. Over the next year, she hopes to move to a more sheltered, rural area.
“I think things really started to turn up when I became a manager of Pet Finder and other groups. People started to learn who I was and that I was involved in lost and found operations,” she said.
“Then I started more and more trap/cat rescue, and people started tagging me more and more about these issues.”
While plenty of community members help rescue kittens and kittens, Medford resident Annie Heitmanek said Spiegel has become a trusted resource known for her big heart and willingness to solve the problem for the toughest cases.
“I am a huge supporter of Millie Cat and Mel. She is a busy woman, there is a lot to do and she seems to always find a way to do more. I think the biggest part of it is, before I got to know her, I didn’t realize how many kittens were walking around,” said Hetmanek. And you need help.”
Hetmanek said she was shocked to learn that Spiegel was using much of her income to fund the medical bills for her group of rescue animals.
“She does everything. She doesn’t just say, ‘Let me trap a cat and eventually get her spayed or neutered.’ She helps a lot of animals and she changes litter boxes, changes water and feeding, medical appointments and checks out potential homes. The bottom line takes hours and hours and no There are absolutely enough foster families.”
Kristi Wilson said she was inspired to care because of Spiegel’s passion for trying to make an impact on such a huge problem.
“I think this is probably my sixth litter I’ve taken this year. Melody is the best ever and even when she does care, she still thinks and helps in a lot of ways,” Wilson said. Offer anything you need.
“If an animal needs to go to the vet, he takes it to the vet. She provides food. She checks in. I just had the most pleasant experience with her, she is a very loving and kind person and has such a heart towards these animals.”
As it approaches the time of the year when donations dwindle and with “cat season” on an eternal 12-month cycle, Spiegel said her biggest hope, with her credentials to receive donations, is to recruit foster families and get donations for Medicare.
Leaning on a handful of kittens who have recently been seriously injured, Spiegel said he’s juggling every day to provide basic care while worrying about bigger issues like overpopulation and funding problems.
“Now we have a little one called Cellenite. She has a loose patella. She needs surgery, so we’ve been visiting some places to find someone we can afford, but it’s very expensive. It hasn’t bothered her much yet, but when she eats, she kicks her leg,” Spiegel said. side and it hurts when you move it a certain way.”
“Her poor knee is floating around, so she spends a lot of time in the box to avoid getting injured.”
Spiegel said she hopes the next move to Ruch — and more space — will allow her to help more cats and kittens.
She also hopes the universe will send a little help.
“Our biggest needs are care and money. Those are the two biggest things we need to continue what we’re doing,” she said.
“It’s so frustrating to see people posting ‘free cats.’ There is so much more to that and knowing it makes an overwhelming problem even worse. With COVID, it has led to a huge disruption to surgeries and access to vets, but we always seem to be desperately in need of money to help the neediest people and foster families to look after them and connect with them to give them a happy cat life.”
how can I help
To get in touch with Spiegel or donate online, visit the Facebook Rescue page for details: facebook.com/mellycatrescue/
Contact reporter Buffy Bullock at firstname.lastname@example.org.