Volunteer Spotlight: Linda Kurjah
Meet Linda Kurjah! Linda has been volunteering at the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County for 7 years. She is a feline caretaker extraordinaire, who has helped care for some of the shelter’s most vulnerable and sick cats.
Q. What is your role at the shelter?
A. I am a feline foster parent, specializing in neonatal kittens (newborn to very young kittens) and the sickest of the sick felines. Not only that, but I’m also a feline foster mentor! For that role, I am on call 24/7. I take phone calls and texts pretty much every day at all hours of the day and night. On occasion, I grab my ‘go bag’ and do a house call. By house call, I mean I go where the kitten is – a house, the parking lot of the emergency vet, etc. Wherever I’m needed to help a feline in distress or a foster parent who needs assistance.
Q. What made you want to volunteer at the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County?
Health issues required me to leave the workforce, but not my responsibilities as a member of society. One day, I happened to see a notice for a volunteer orientation at the shelter. I signed up, not really knowing what to expect or what I could do but it became clear that fostering was the answer. Initially, I was asked to foster an adult, which I enjoyed, but noticed the need for bottle-baby kitten fostering. This quickly became my niche.
I enjoy all felines and all stages, but neonatal kittens and sick babies are where I feel able to fulfill my responsibilities to the community.
Q. What’s your favorite part of volunteering here?
A. Fostering sick and ill cats can be difficult and heartbreaking, but it truly is the most rewarding for me. I enjoy watching one of my sickest babies reach those milestones and eventually develop into a strong, healthy, funny, goofy fur-baby that is more than ready to join a family as a spoiled member of the family.
Of course, if one fosters, one must answer the question “How do you give them up?” My answer is it’s not easy, but I’ve done my job. They no longer need me, they are ready to be big kids and deserve a family of their own. Besides, I know I have to keep the room available to save even more lives – there will always be another one that needs me.
Q. If you could give one piece of advice about volunteering at the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County, what would it be?
A. Go into volunteering with an open heart and help where you are needed. You may start volunteering in the building but find you enjoy time at home fostering. Or you may think you want to foster, but discover that being in the building providing enrichment to the shelter kitties holds more interest. The shelter has something for everyone, from dog walking, to enrichment, to the Pet Food Pantry. The work is never done, so there is always something to do.
Q. Why are you so passionate about the work we do?
A. My dream for is every animal to have a loving home. But for now, I just want to help every feline that gets to our shelter to succeed and become someone’s special fur-baby. And the foster program has done so much for me that I want other people to feel the success of fostering. After all, the more successful the foster families, the more animals we save, and the closer to the dream of every animal having a loving home.
Q. Tell us about some of your favorite stories being a foster!
In late 2016, we fostered a very special little girl, Indigo. Indigo had several medical issues and for that reason, she became a foster and joined the family. She did not have a long life, but for her brief life, she was provided all the love we could give her. And for the love of that special little girl, we continue to foster in her memory.
Duke and Luna
Two other fosters are Duke and Luna. It took a lot of care to get Duke to the 2-pound mark. By the time he did, we knew he belonged with us, so Duke never left. Then there is Luna. Luna arrived at the shelter after what was presumed to have been hit by a vehicle. This left her with some neurological issues. As we worked through those issues, it became apparent that Luna has Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH) and was a “wobbly kitten”. CH babies typically do not have the best outcomes, but we chose to adopt her. Today, she is the most fearless wobbly feline you have ever seen.
A favorite from last year was Max. Max was a senior boy brought to the shelter after his human passed away. He had shut down and stopped eating while at the shelter. I was asked to work with him to see if it was medical or something else. I very quickly discovered it was something else. He just needed time out of the shelter and some quiet one-on-one attention. Once Max was eating and stable, he was transferred to one of our partner rescues. As of February, he was adopted by a woman who adores him for the loving, sweet boy he is.
Kitten season is here and feline fostering is needed now more than ever! Interested in becoming a foster or volunteer? Check out our opportunities.