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November 4, 2013

Rescue operation takes in, adopts out small animals

NEW CASTLE — James Herriott wrote about all creatures great and small.

Jen Kilmer of Edinburg never wanted to forget about the littlest of animals. She never wanted to forget about a beloved horse named Judge, either.

It was Judge who inspired her to open a nonprofit shelter to help small animals — some who are abused or neglected. So in 2005, she founded Judge’s Park Small Animal Rescue in the basement of her home.

Since then, more than 700 small animals have been rescued, and homes have been found for them. Those mostly include rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, chinchillas and rats. Cats and dogs are not accepted at this facility.

Kilmer, 31, has loved animals since she was very young.

While attending college, she eventually got an apartment and obtained a guinea pig. Soon after, she started taking in other guinea pigs and learned, “There’s no place in this area where they can be taken.”

Rabbits are also frequently neglected and are the third-most common animals in shelters, Kilmer acknowledged. Those animals are especially dear to her heart.

“We spay and neuter all the rabbits we receive, all our bunnies are trained to use the litter box, and they make wonderful pets,” she said.

Kilmer’s husband, Matt, is an animal lover, too, and helps with the shelter, which she oversees in  addition to holding a full-time job.

“It makes me happy to help them.”

As the shelter continuously takes in animals, there is a need for volunteers to help with cleaning cages, transporting animals to new homes, socialization, making home visits and fostering.

Janet Wigg has volunteered at Judge’s Park for the past few years. Following the loss of a pet guinea pig, Wigg began adopting more, and started cleaning cages at the shelter.

A son of Wigg’s neighbor “helped for fun” during the summer and his contributions gave Kilmer and Wigg the idea that other youth might want to pitch in. The women contacted all the schools in the county and now some teens are assisting and using that time to complete their community service projects.

“We’re still in need of volunteers,” said Wigg who is also vice president of the rescue’s board of directors.

Because some animals are abused, she has addressed the subject of bullying at her church, Westfield Presbyterian, during children’s sermons.

Another issue that has surfaced more this past year is the dumping of animals outside. Kilmer said two bunnies — one that was only 18 weeks old — were dumped in Cascade Park.

“It’s a death sentence because they can’t survive outdoors.”

Cash donations and those of cages, bedding and other items are welcome, Kilmer explained. Funding is constantly needed to care for the animals and pay for vet bills, she added, noting all adoption fees return into taking care of the animals.

Those wanting to adopt must complete a foster application, and all applications are carefully screened.

Wigg pointed out that the rescue operation’s goal is to get animals out to good homes so more can be taken in.

There are always five to 20 people at one time fostering the smaller animals, Kilmer explained, but more foster homes are always needed.

“I would love to get more permanent adopters.”

And Wigg mentioned the essence of what Judge’s Park attempts to do.

“We are giving them the life they should have. It makes it all worthwhile.”

(Email: lhudson@ncnewsonline.com.)

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