Event to aid Finnland’s Fosters, homeless cats

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ONEIDA — Finnland’s Fosters will hold its second annual cat stock event in order to raise funds to keep the rescue going from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 4 at the shelter, 147 Cedar St.

There will be music by One Man, The Band and others. There will also be food, vendors, chances to win baskets, and cats available for adoption.

Admission is free. Donations will be accepted.

The beginning of Finnland’s Fosters

Finnland’s Fosters was started by Sherrill resident Michele Finn, who has dedicated three decades to placing homeless animals and giving them a voice.

It all started with a dog named Tippy. There was also a skunk named Petunia and a burly Tomcat she called Tiger. Those were some of Finn’s first encounters with abandoned animals.

Her childhood home was a sanctuary for them, a calling that started with her father rescuing the ones left behind on his job sites. Finn said she inherited her father’s compassion toward furry souls, learning at a young age how to bottle-feed kittens who lost their mother, bandage infected paws and socialize those unfamiliar with human touch. 

That passion turned into a lifelong career for Finn, who has been placing homeless animals for almost 30 years.

Her husband, Alex, joined her mission as well. The pair assisted local animal shelters with fostering for many years until their own home was overflowing with whiskers and tails. They then started Finnland Fosters Cat Rescue and Adoption Center in 2018.

That passion, now in jeopardy due to a lack of funding, threatens their existence and that of many animal shelters, the Finns said.

Funded mostly through donations, amid soaring costs of food, its limited supply, compounded with the costs of litter and other supplies, and vet fees up 12 percent, Finn said she’s concerned.

“Our goal when we first started out was to be an overflow for shelters,” Finn said. “But it has grown into so much more.”

Throughout the years, Finn has fostered hundreds of animals, adopting out just as many through Finnland’s Fosters.

The hours are long — sometimes 70 per week. And there is no paycheck at the end.

“There are days when I don’t know how we are going to keep going, and I am ready to pack it in,” Finn said.

Fundraisers, bottle drives and donors help defray the shelter’s costs. Donations keep not only placement of pets going, but also their programs for children, veterans, senior citizens and other groups.

Despite a shortage of food and funds, there is never a lack of love at Finnland’s, said Finn.

“It’s pure passion that motivates me,” Finn said. “And volunteers who are die-hard and never let me down. And kind people who love these animals like I do.”

It’s evidenced when she posted a need for litter and 15 boxes arrived that afternoon and later, when a donated refrigerator arrived within hours after the shelter’s stopped working overnight.

She points to a wall inside the shelter — every board donated by a volunteer.

Always needed, volunteers help with daily tasks running the shelter, repairs, transporting to the veterinarian and socializing kittens, which is vital to preparing them for their forever homes.

Amy Mays has been volunteering with Finn for two years.

“Michele is wonderful. She cares about every one of these cats,” Mays said. “What is notable to me as a volunteer is when a cat is sick, she gives them as much care and love as she can.”

Finn’s devotion is also visible in her knack for pairing people with their best friends. Those who are told they are too old to adopt a cat, she finds an elderly match.

On a given day, visitors frequent Finnland’s, some looking to adopt, and others to socialize or get “pet therapy.”

Happiness filled the cat room one busy Saturday as eight felines found their forever homes. More good news that day, too. Lowes was donating supplies toward construction of a new kitty room and an isolation area. 

For more information about adopting, volunteering or supporting their efforts with a donation, call 315-280-0075 or email www.finnlandsfostersrescue@gmail.com. Finnland Fosters is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. 

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