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Carlson recognized by Kiwanis Club

Shawn Gay, second from right, joins a team of chiropractors and others when Governor Chris Gregoire signs  a bill guaranteeing fairness in payment for treatment. It’s just one of several bills passed in recent years requiring insurance companies to cover alternative health care. - SARAH ARNEY The Arlington Times
Shawn Gay, second from right, joins a team of chiropractors and others when Governor Chris Gregoire signs a bill guaranteeing fairness in payment for treatment. It’s just one of several bills passed in recent years requiring insurance companies to cover alternative health care.
— image credit: SARAH ARNEY The Arlington Times

ARLINGTON — Cheri Carlson feels sorry for the uncared for cats out there.

Her tireless efforts on behalf of the felines in the community have been rewarded as she was selected to be the recipient of the Arlington Kiwanis Club’s Community Recognition Award for this year.

“This award is given to people whose contributions go unnoticed or taken for granted,” said Kiwanian Virginia Hatch, who nominated Carlson for the award. “Her tireless efforts help the community humanely control its cat population,” she added.

Carlson moved to Arlington in 1999. She never envisioned becoming so involved on behalf of the felines here. What she did see was her neighborhood being overrun by cats, many of them homeless or unplanned, and many which were living distressed, harsh lives.

Starting with her own neighborhood, she sorted out which cats had a home, and which didn’t. She captured the stray, or feral cats in cages from Purrfect Pals and NOAH, and then took them in to be spayed or neutered at no cost. When possible, she arranged for these cats to be placed on farms as barn cats.

She then worked with her neighbors to find low cost surgery for their cats with Pasado and other agencies.

Once the cats on her own street were taken care of, she noticed a colony of cats at a nearby trailer park. She went through the same process as she had on her own street, and then repeatedly moved on to the next colony of cats.

On her trips to Purrfect Pals, NOAH and veterinarians’ offices, Carlson ran into other volunteer rescuers and created an informal e-mail group with about 30 people from throughout Snohomish County.

Carlson works with others in the group to catch the cats but also trains people at apartments, mobile home parks, businesses or residences to catch cats. Her territory reaches from Marysville north, including Arlington, Darrington, Silvana and Stanwood.

In addition to catching the cats and taking them in for surgery, this informal group helps cat owners find affordable surgery for their cats.

Carlson’s goal is to train people to perform the services that she provides, including medicating sick animals, creating feeding stations for cat colonies and finding volunteers to bottle feed abandoned kittens or to foster cats until a permanent home can be found.

Because Cheri has been doing this work for years now, she has become known as a person to contact when there are cat issues. This is a mixed blessing, of course, because a network of thirty people cannot begin to meet the needs. This has not deterred Cheri. She sees a need, and she does what she can, she helps others get involved, and she does it week after week, year after year.

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