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Non-profit urges community to aid shelter

Date: 1/27/2009

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD Denise Sinico, founder of the Westfield Homeless Cat Project Inc., is calling on all those in the city to donate a few minutes of their time to help her non-profit organization.

By casting a vote online, residents can help the Westfield Homeless Cat Project a no-kill shelter, which rescues, vaccinates, neuters, spays and fosters homeless cats in greater Westfield win $10,000 for the operation of their shelter. As of Jan. 23, the organization was in sixth place with 2,259 votes in the's America's Favorite Animal Shelter Contest, which ends Jan. 31.

"There's no reason why we couldn't win. I mean, there are 45,000 people in Westfield [that could vote for us]," Sinico said in an interview with Reminder Publications on Jan. 22. "I've got 11 days left. We have 45,000 people in Westfield where are they? It's their turn to help me because some day they are going to need my help [to rescue a cat] and if I don't get the community support how can I continue to do this?"

Last week, Saint John Animal Rescue League of Saint John, New Brunswick, was leading the contest with 10,323 votes.

Westfield resident Tanya Costigan, owner of "Stinky" the cat, explained that she adopted him from the Westfield Homeless Cat Project several years ago and has been a strong supporter of the organization ever since. She added that she and other residents have answered the call by voting online.

Costigan explained that she has chosen to support the Westfield Homeless Cat Project in large part due to Sinico's dedication to the organization and her success with placing cats into good homes.

"She's a really great woman," she said of Sinico. "She dedicates a lot of her life to the cats [and] she's really passionate about [the Westfield Homeless Cat Project]. It's just amazing to see what they do there [to help the cats and kittens]."

Sinico explained that she raised approximately $100,000 last year, all of which went to the organization. She noted that once cats are brought into the shelter they visit the veterinarian, which can total thousands of dollars per visit, depending on their needs. Sinico said the grand prize of $10,000 would last about two months.

"The vet bills are astronomical," she said, adding that the vet visits are necessary to ensure the health and well being of the animals no matter what the cost.

"When we're in the shelter sometimes [visitors] cry and they are very, very sad because they [see so many cats that] are abandoned and in cages," Joanne Perry, a volunteer at the Westfield Homeless Cat Project, said. "What I always try to remember is that these are the lucky ones and have by some fortune come to us and they are the ones that will be saved. It's the ones that are still out there that you need to cry about."

Perry said the prize money would greatly benefit the shelter because of the growing numbers rescued by their organization in light of the downturn in the economy.

Votes for the Westfield Homeless Cat Project in the's America's Favorite Animal Shelter Contest must be cast by Jan. 31 by logging onto