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Pets and people connect in cyberspace

Date: 2006-12-11
COTTAGE GROVE - Looking for a female? How about China or Missy or Dreams?

A guy? How about Frankie or Seymour or ...

Baby Bear?

He's black and white and has a bobtail. And, no, he's not a bear or a bobcat. He's just a regular cat with a stubby tail who would be long gone by now if not for Nancy Ede. The Cottage Grove woman found Baby Bear ready for euthanasia at Eugene's Greenhill Humane Society and, like a lot of other lucky cats, he found a temporary home with Ede before he hopefully finds a permanent one.

Ede runs a foster home for cats out of her house. Three months ago she joined a growing list of animal-rescue shelters, humane societies and pet foster homes linked to Petfinder, a New Jersey-based Web site devoted to finding homes for some 200,000 wayward animals from all over North America.

Think of it as something like an online dating site, or a MySpace page for a cat face. Or a dog or a bird or even a ferret's face.

"I can save them and raise them, but they have to have a home," says Ede, who has given away six kittens since registering her rescue operation, Wholly Cats, at www.petfinder .com.

"She's just on a great mission for these critters," says Judi Burrows, who discovered her two new tabby cats, sisters Tessa and Sabine, at Wholly Cats after doing an online search.

Burrows' standard poodle, Jaz, died of cancer earlier this year. After her loss, Burrows was looking for an older dog who might need a home. She'd never had cats, had never been a "cat person," but Wholly Cats was the only animal shelter listed in Cottage Grove on the Web site - although there are 11 in Eugene, including Greenhill, the Stray Cat Alliance, Maine Coon Rescue, Exotic Bird Rescue, Lane County Ferret Lovers and another recent addition, Luv-a-Bull Rescue, which caters exclusively to pit bull lovers.

Burrows was impressed with Ede's operation and how "immaculate" her home was despite all the rescued cats she shares it with. Burrows adopted Tessa first, then Sabine a week later.

And now they get along just fine with Burrows' miniature poodle, Riley.

"He loves them," Burrows says. "Anyone who says they're not a cat person really ought to give this a try."

More than 9,000 nonprofit animal shelters and pet-adoption organizations are listed on Petfinder in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Jared and Betsy Saul of Pittstown, N.J., started the Web site in 1995 - going nationwide in 1998 - and it has resulted in more than 7 million pet adoptions since, according to a profile of the couple that appeared last summer in American Profile magazine.

You can also list a free classified ad for both "lost" and "found" pets on the site that's supported by advertisers such as Purina and PETCO.

Ede says she needed only a letter from her veterinarian testifying to the level of care she provides to land a spot on Petfinder.

"It really helps me find homes for these little guys," she says. "I like saving lives."

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