Alisse Russell, Puff Cat Rescue, Inc.
You tuned in minicabs podcasts reading. Let's go welcome to the community cats. Podcast I'm your host Stacey Lebaron. I've been involved helping homeless cats for over twenty years with the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society. The goal of this podcast is to expose you to amazing. People are improving the lives of cats. I hope these interviews will help you learn how you can turn your passion for cats into action today. We're speaking with a lease Russell. Alise is the founder and Executive Director of Puff Cat Rescue Inc. A recently launched grassroots rescue with an ambition to grow into a nationwide rescue network. They are dedicated to solving community cat. Overpopulation not only by participating in TR. Foster care but by preparing seminars and workshops designed to engage communities and get involved in the effort. Puff or pause up for felines is a small but mighty initiative born out of the instagram rescue community. Puff is designed to make connections with rescues across the country and increase rescue accessibility to underserved areas while also making a local impact and encouraging to do the same in their communities. Outside of Puff. Elise works in the mental health field with underprivileged people and is working toward certification as a humane education specialist and spends her nights watching. Hgtv marathons with her husband and her two cats Khloe embel- elise welcome to the show. Thank you so much for having me. Yeah so before. We JUMP INTO DETAILS ABOUT PUFF. Tell us a bit. How did you become a fan of felines? Well I think that probably plays a pretty common way for most of your guests. You know I grew up having cats in my house and I just fell in love with from the Gecko so as I got older and became more involved with the health of my cats in my home I started getting involved with municipal shelter. I learned how to trap neuter return early stages of this was back in the early. Two thousand love just kind of grew from there. I went to school to be a social worker and through my time working and mental health. I've realized that at underprivileged as the people are that I'm serving so are the homeless animals or the community cats in my local area. So that's kind of where that got started. After I graduated college I had put my community cat. Love not as off to the side but I guess kind of on the back burner a little bit to focus on my career and then I started following kitten lady on Instagram and it just reignited that flame right there. I got involved. I started getting more and more involved in the rescue community on instagram using the hash tags to connect with people who were needing someone come out and traffic or to foster a. Catholic showed up in their yard and really utilizing that platform to connect with people who needed the assistance. That's wonderful I mean we've had a couple of interviews with some organizations that have really taken advantage kitten. Lady obviously is one of them will zweig yard at flatbush. Cats has also really created very huge presence on instagram. You know what is it about instagram? I mean I understand their hold of visual. Everybody can take a million pictures of their cats and post that information up there but why instagram versus some of the other social media platforms. What is it that really you gravitated towards that so instagram seems to be more of an instantaneous Experience to me. So the connections there so far reaching it's a very very global network where the facebooks twitter's they are global but many of the group seemed to be more localized instagram. What I liked about it is that I can connect with somebody who is in California. I can connect with somebody who's an Indonesia or in London in help them connect to other resources. So Puff Cat. Did THAT START ON INSTAGRAM. Or was there something else on instagram. A different logo or name or just your own personal account. I'm trying to figure out how you went from instagram. To puff cat. Was there something specific in there? And I think I may be sharing my age right now on the podcast and the fact that I'm a little bit instagram ignorant. So I apologize. If I'm not understanding everything fully no so I did start originally with just my personal instagram and that was when I follow kitten lady and I started following other fosters and I realized as I was falling more and more that they were kind of taken up a whole fee so I created a separate account. I named it. Khloe and bell. After my cat's just why could have in instagram? We're on looking at the cats and then another one where I'm looking at my friends and then as I started following more so to get more involved. This isn't really my cats instagram anymore. This is for rescue. This is for foster and I renamed it to what it is. Now pitter-patter pause and that's kind of where puff was born. I have two separate instagram accounts. Now I have my pitcher powder pause and I have a cat rescue. We utilize both to to maximize reach. So tell me. What is Puff Cat Rescue? And what you hope that. It will grow into so puff. Cat Rescue is a volunteer foster based rescue. It's a grassroots effort building. It completely from the ground of we are a hundred percent donor-funded no investors new corporate interests and originally the idea was to focus on Massachusetts cats whereas where I'm based out of Massachusetts and we realize as we were growing that the resources are there but they're very hard for people to connect to especially for more rural areas. Underserved areas are having trouble connecting to rescues to help out with the community. Cats and their locales so we were still focusing on that direct care initiative with tr with the fostering but we really want to develop this network an actual network maybe like a social media kind of thing where rescues are members they can go on and any person in the country can go on and see a list of the resources in their area or resources that will come to them and help out even if there's none in their immediate area so how would this be different than some of them are regional programs. Best friends has like best friends network. And there is a Maddie's pet forum out there and then there's facebook pages for the Massachusetts Animal Coalition that you mentioned is this something that's even more grassroots than sort of what those larger organizations might be offering. Yes I would be bringing in mostly. The smaller rescues though is independently. Run one or two person just trying to make a difference really bringing them into it so that they cannot expand their own reach best friends. Aspca those are great organizations. And they're doing wonderful work but we still have a lot of grassroots rescues. That need support that. They're not quite getting so the aim for this is to get them the support that they need so that they can support the people in so when you're saying they're not getting the support is it money. Is it help volunteer help? Is it items stuff? You know food supplies. Do you have a specific list? Or that's to be determined by. The groups is to be determined by the groups. I mean I would think it's all encompassing. There's rescues at have great donors. They have that cash flow coming in but they don't necessarily have the volunteers to support the volume of cats in their area. So head of all encompassing you know it sounds like you did the foster care and rescue. I is that correct. That's correct and we are still doing that. So it sounds like based on that you felt like there was something lacking and that's why you're creating this next level and it's interesting because back in the late nineties for me. When I was answering the phone at the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society all the time with people wanting to surrender their cats or questions about cats etc. Yeah so many people outside of our local area wanted spay neuter assistance for community cats and everybody had to pay one hundred twenty five at that point in time per cat with a private jet to get a colony done and so you know. I knew we couldn't set up another adoption center. You know in all these different communities but I thought well we could certainly do some subsidized free spay neuter for any FERAL CAT. That came in trap needed to be spayed or neutered. So we would start. We started our mash style clinic. So it's basically based on experience you sort of our understanding what might be missing. And what's needed going forward? You know looking at this. Are you creating this network? How is the database being put together or? Is that just a very linear thing will be accessible to everybody. It is going to be designed to be accessible to everybody. The aim is going to be to create a whole new social network where people can get on an engaged maybe like facebook maybe similar to instagram. Where we can make individualize groups prestige lists prostate? We really want people to be able to directly contact each other not just through email or phone calls but instant messaging route chatting so that they can reach as many rescues at the same time as it can trying to streamline all of the connections that we try to make us rescues into one platform. Hi everybody early bird. Tickets are for sale for the two thousand Twenty Online Kitin conference which will be held on June twelfth through Fourteenth Twenty Twenty. It will start on Friday night and then it'll run all day through on Saturday and all day on Sunday speakers that the national kitten coalition have lined up our Chris. Roy Dr Cynthia Delaney. Emily Carl Dr Aaron Doyle Heather Svoboda Michelle Lynch Arden More Carolina key Dr Karen Ver- now Dr Linda Jacobson Kirsten Jenky Dr Mardi greer Miquel Delgado Monica friend. Nicky Harris Simone Kelham Taylor La brea or just a sampling of the folks that are going to be presenting during the weekend. So it's a huge lineup. It's a very exciting weekend. We have go to. Www DOT online kitten conference dot com. Get your tickets today. The early bird price of fifty dollars. This is a weekend not to be missed if you can't be there though it's okay because there will be recordings available. 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Where you can sell your items and even mobile APP on both android and apple for those people on the go check out DUBAR DOT COM to get signed up for free today and start saving more time. Well you save more animals. You're also talking about potentially doing some events. Are you thinking in person or virtual or you haven't thought that far yet or designing them to be more in person because there's going to be some hands on workshops really teaching people how to do? Tnn HOW TO SET UP A trap. How do this how to do that? I do see the potential for a virtual seminars virtual workshops to for sure yeah no. It sounds very exciting. Have you done any educational workshop up to this point in time up to this point we haven't launched any? We have been working on designing a couple of workshops so that when we are ready launched. We have a couple in our arsenal. Sounds good so you currently work in the mental health field and you sort of touched upon this. But I'd like to find out more wizar- something that in your experience in that field has also drawn you to the need for community cat. Spay neuter access as well as access to affordable spay neuter for cats anything from that field. I feel like we sometimes have a big gap between social services and animal welfare and I feel like they should meld closer together and I'm not sure if you get that impression too. Yeah I agree. One hundred percent many of the people that we work with are homeless individuals who still have a suspect spot in a heart for a furry friend. They may be homeless whether without their furry friend. There's a lot of crossover between human social services and animal welfare. And do you see a role for those agencies doing something in this network? I mean that's a really good question one that I hadn't actually thought about. I think there is a place for social services to get involved in animal welfare puzzled how much animals impact our lives. Everyone's lives yeah. It's been interesting. It's been frustrating on sort of the flip side win. Some organizations have dealt with wording situations and they've gone in and they've been able to really assist with regards to the animals but social services has not been able to assist that person. Say that houses condemned and they need to find housing and social services an effort to get to the house as timely. A manner as it is to deal with the cats and then the staff dealing with the animals also dealing with that person who's obviously extremely emotional in devastated. Her oftentimes their children. You know and you're going around in your trapping cats and it can be an emotional scene. And so then the Animal Welfare folks are also being social services to Intel. Social services can come and help that person so I think that that probably happens both ways in various scenarios. And so it's it's a challenge and I think we haven't crossed that bridge jetton bringing those two groups together in a very active basis yet. So you're a new group. You just started in January or you got incorporated in July of two thousand and nineteen. What's that been like in? Would you have any advice for someone? Who's thinking about starting a new group? Have you already run into any challenges or obstacles? Oh of course yes definitely run into any obstacles and challenges. The best advice I could give. People is stay organized. Go into it knowing that. You're probably going to be over your head if you go into it knowing that you're going to be over your head and you're going to be overwhelmed. You'RE GONNA be more inclined to be more organized and that's really going to help you get through all the application processes. There's a lot of background work. That goes into building a rescue that. I think maybe people aren't aware of when we started a rescue. We're doing it because we want to help the cats and we're not doing it because we want to do paperwork but the paperwork there and it needs to be done so being organized really going to be your best friend. Yeah and you can say that to me as I have here. You know planning a cat conference have about thirty stickies on my desk so I will take that suggestion to heart and try and clean up my sticky notes. Because that's probably the worst way to do. Things is by putting things on sticky notes that end up getting into piles and all that kind of stuff so lesson learned for me today. That's for sure. And it's a big challenge. Do you have a board of directors? Have you put a board of directors together yet? Yes we have a full board of directors we have all four officers plus a sitting board member and when I was recruiting board members are really left for people who are smarter than me in different areas that we have somebody who has experienced with nonprofit philanthropy. We HAVE SOMEBODY. Who's experienced with social media and marketing office management? We have a veterinary assistant. I come with nonprofit management experience in all of our experience together is what's GonNa make this a success. It's not just me running the show with a couple of board members behind me saying yeah go. That's great they back on me. They tell me when I have that idea. They don't mince words and I appreciate that so very much. You actually mentioned in the beginning of the show that you are a listener of the community cats podcast and not to like my own show but have you found it valuable to tune into the show. Yes absolutely wave managed to start developing a relationship with a former guest list whittaker by utilizing her software politics rebuilding our databases. We have really taken a lot of the episodes to heart as far as you had wills wider talking about videos. We're now making videos. Because of the advice that he was giving so there's a lot of great information that comes out of the show and it's really helped us build this pretty quickly past six months. That's great can you share with us what you're following on Instagram Yup. It's a Lotta Fosters people that I've developed relationships with using the instagram platform. We have some veterinarians following us as well a couple of wildlife sanctuaries that we have a pretty broad follower list. I guess you would call it. I mean there's plenty of individuals to who are coming onto the page. Do we have a facebook page as well. So they're coming onto the page. They're seeing the great posts. They're liking the page and then they're inviting their friends. So we're seeing a lot of organic growth that way so I'M GONNA ask a couple of the standard social media questions. How often do you post in? Do you post organically or do you use a scheduler. We try to post every day as we're such a small organization like I'm GonNa be real. We don't have the amount of content that getting ladies do so we're also engaging with other rescues kind of locally nationally and helping promote their animals that they have or adoption really helping them market that and do you use any special tools for your social media like any scheduling tools or do you just go on and post every day. We're just going on and posting every day. We're posting organically. Were commenting organically. This is a very personal rescue and I want the whole experience to be a very personalized one for everyone involved and tell me the difference between instagram's stories and the feed the instagram's stories. That's the twenty four hours that people can click on your profile and they see a little whatever picture video laying however you WanNa put it up in there. Those are temporary. Do come down. Instagram does have highlights feature where you can make them a permanent video or post on your page but the news feed is really where all the permanent posts. Oh that's where we're putting. The adoptions the updates all of that stuff is going into the newsfeed so we use the stories to kind of I guess. Hook people in to come to our main feed. I wouldn't say that the stories are the main focus when using instagram. So Elise if folks are interested in finding out. More about puff cat. How would they do that? We have several outlets where they can see us. We have a website. That's puff cat rescue dot. Org were also on instagram. At puff hat rescue and on facebook of cat rescue. It can also learn more coming to my personal instagram which is at pitter-patter underscore pause great. Is there anything else? You'd like to share with our listeners today. Yeah I'd really encourage all your listeners to engage with the grassroots organizations in their localities because these are organisms that are out there giving it their all and they don't have the community support necessarily that they mean whether that's financial material volunteer. There's always ways for people to get involved if you can't donate than maybe you can volunteer even just helping post on their social media so that it's one less thing that somebody has to worry about. There's so many ways that people can help local grassroots organizations like ours. At least that's awesome. Thank you so much for agreeing to be a guest on my show today and I hope. We'll have you on in the future when puff cat has grown a little bit more and for our listeners. Out there pleaseconsider sharing this podcast with others and if you feel real dynamic it'd be great if you can post a review wherever you listen to this podcast reviews or really so if you do have a few moments and would be willing to post review that would be great and at least thanks again and hopefully we'll be chatman soon. Thank you again so much for having me. It's been a real honor. Thank you for listening to community cats. Podcast I really appreciate it. If you would go to I tunes leave review of the show. It will help. Spread the word to help more community cats.