Pittston Animal Hospital
4 O'Connell Street
Pittston PA. 18640

Office hours are
8:00a.m. to 8:00p.m. Mon thru Fri

Call for appointment (570) 655-2412

Wilkes-Barre Animal Hospital
421 N. Pennsylvania Avenue
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702

Business Hours are evening only:
8 p.m to 12 a.m. Mon thru Fri

Please call us at (570) 821-9390
During business hours.

Tandojam Charity Animal Hospital
Mirpurkhas Road,
Tandojam City Dist.
Hyderabad, Sindh, Pakistan

Phone 92 221 765442

Felines' Best Friend
Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, November 12, 2002
By Kimberly Davis
Perth, Domino, Pickles, Olive, Rosemary, Hobart and Plume are the names of some of the cats awaiting adoption at Valley Cat Rescue. But they could all be appropriately named Lucky.

Heather Balester is their guardian angel. Since 1996, Balester and Valley Cat Rescue have taken in more than 300 stray and abandoned cats and placed them in good homes.

Balester knows the adoptive homes are good - she checks out each one personally before she turns over one of her precious friends to a new family. A few times Balester has even changed her mind and nixed the adoption. She also makes the new family aware that the cat can be returned if the situation doesn't work out.

"Rescuing a cat means following through and seeing that it has a good life," Balester said. "I guess the difference between me and other people is that I don't see them as just cats. They're a precious life."

Many of the cats owe their lives to veterinarian I.H. Kathio of the Pittston Animal Hospital, who donates his time and expertise to the cause. Kathio helps to nurse sick strays back to health and offers low cost rabies vaccine clinics and spay and neuter clinics to the public to benefit the program.

The spay and neuter clinics are offered at $40 for a female cat and $25 for a male, less than half what one might pay in another situation. Rabies vaccinations cost $5 at the clinic.

Yard sales, canister collections and private donations help to keep the program going.

And overhead is low for Valley Cat Rescue. A group of dedicated volunteers do most of the work at the clinics. Strays awaiting adoption are housed in a couple of rooms at Balester Optical in Wilkes-Barre, where Balester can keep a close eye on their progress.

"We don't have any administrative costs to speak of," she said.

Balester is a true cat person. She moves about the two rooms where cats roam with ease and grace like she's one of them. She is aware of their idiosyncrasies, needs and habits, and has respect for their personal space.

Heated beds, litter boxes, food and water dishes, and plenty of toys are spread about the rooms. A large cage keeps a new arrival separated until it is ready to join the group.

She is quick to dispel any misconceptions about the animals. For instance, Balester said people believe cats are aloof and self-sufficient, and can fend for themselves when abandoned.

Not true, she said. Cats are vulnerable to many diseases and misfortunes when they live outdoors. Feline leukemia and feline AIDS are some of the more common maladies. Cold weather lowers their resistance to disease and the lack of medical care makes it impossible for them to survive.

One such stray touched her heart so much that Balester decided to make it part of her own family.

A little kitten, not more than 8 weeks old, was pulled from a pond where it was drowning. The kitten was brain-damaged, and could only walk in a circle. His swollen belly and protruding ribs were an indication that he was starving. Balester took the kitten to Kathio's office for emergency care before deciding to adopt the animal.

She named the kitten Gyro because of his odd movements. "He's never going to be like a normal cat," Balester said.

Valley Cat Rescue receives between 50 and 125 calls per week to take in cats. "I can only help a limited number of them, so I try to take in those most in need," Balester said.

Supply and demand is the problem. Cats can have three or four litters a year, with an average of four kittens per litter. Also, people prefer to adopt cute and spirited kittens over older cats. "There are too many cats and not enough good homes. There's a complete over-supply situation."

"Our mission is three-fold," Balester said. "Finding good homes for cats in need, spaying and neutering to decrease the cat population, and educating people are the priorities."

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