The Forgotten Felines of Richland County, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to solving Richland County’s stray cat overpopulation problem, held its sixth annual 5K Cat Walk event Sunday afternoon at North Lake Park .
The fundraiser is being held so the group can raise money to spay and neuter stray cats in Richland County.
“They are trying to control the population. You can’t drive down the street in Mansfield without cats crossing the street,” said Linda Swisher of the Forgotten Felines. “They suffer whether they are hit by a car or by illness if it can be prevented. Richland County is one of the largest contributors to local shelters in other cities like Marion and Upper Sandusky. There really aren’t any facilities here other than humane society and they deal with abandoned, abused and neglected animals.”
Ann Robinson, the race director for the sixth straight year, said she believes the Forgotten Felines have a worthy cause to which they are dedicated.
“Why? First, because I can’t say no. Second, I can’t have cats in my house. My mother was a wonderful cat lover. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for cats,” said Robinson. “It’s one of those things where I want to find a way to give back. The runway is a runway for our models and our runway is the cats. We appreciate what Forgotten Felines is doing to help community cats.”
Overpopulation has been a major problem in Mansfield and the fundraising effort will help the group take cats to veterinarians to have them spayed and neutered.
“The places are limited. We get a little discount from vets,” Swisher said. “We owe a vet $4,000 for the month of September. Other vets could pay as much as $1,000 to $1,500 a month.”
For last month’s $4,000 vet bill, Robinson said more than 30 cats needed to be spayed and neutered. Swisher says it’s usually $70 per neuter and anywhere from $90 to $100 per castration.
“We have this situation because of irresponsible people,” Swisher said. “People cause this problem, not cats.”
“Until people are responsible pet owners, this problem will persist,” Robinson said.
While the fundraiser won’t help solve all of the issues related to raising funds to support community cats and paying ongoing vet bills, the 5K event will go a long way.
“This is basically our main fundraiser,” Swisher said. We have merchandise that is available at the Ashland Bookstore for Forgotten Felines. I think we get 20% of the sales. We are a Kroger listed charity where if you sign up with our charity a percentage of your food spend will be converted into cash and donated to our nonprofit. But that’s a big deal for us because we really don’t have time to do more events.”
Swisher said there were up to 85 runners en route to Sunday’s race who would rather sign up at the last minute. Last year they had 100 runners.
“Last year we made $4,000. It looks like we should raise over $5,000 with additional volunteers,” Robinson said of the dollar number she hopes to see this year.
Sponsors include many of the local vets and Tim’s Auto Repair who sponsored $500 towards the event.
“We have 28 sponsors this year,” said Robinson. “Pretty much all the vets in the area have sponsored. A few of them have doubled the amounts compared to others. It shows the vets care too.”