MASSENA Soot, a hefty, jet-black cat with a nick in his right ear, resides at the Massena Humane Society animal shelter, 177 S. Raquette Road.
But his days of calling the shelter home might be coming to an end, thanks to a program that allows people who cant afford adoption costs to take an animal home free of charge.
Skips Retreat, 237½ E. Orvis St., has started a quarter jug that allows customers to drop in their spare change. When the jug reaches $75, bar co-owner Judi Hayden-Shutts takes the money to the Massena shelter and looks over the cats up for adoption. When shes found one that catches her eye, she adopts it.
But instead of Ms. Hayden-Shutts taking the cat home, a sign is placed on the animals cubicle announcing that its available for free, thanks to Skips Retreat.
In less than two months, Skips Retreat has paid for the adoption of three adult cats. Soot, who has been at the shelter since February, was the latest feline to benefit.
Ms. Hayden-Shutts has set up two collection jugs at the bar; while one goes toward cat adoptions, the other provides funds directly to the Massena Humane Society.
I go out there quite a bit with donations. I try to collect things like paper towels and necessities they need, she said.
Ms. Hayden-Shutts said the quarter jug started out as a donation jug. After talking with shelter Manager Heidi J. Bradish, she decided to use the money to pay for the adoption of a cat or dog.
People drop quarters in the jug, Ms. Hayden-Shutts said. It costs $75 to adopt a cat. The reason I picked cats instead of dogs is because theyre overrun with cats. They are with dogs, as well, but I feel like I had to pick something.
Bar patrons give so generously, Ms. Hayden-Shutts said, that the jug recently brought in $150, allowing for the adoption of two cats.
While the kittens at the shelter are cute, she said, she goes for the adult cats who likely have been there the longest.
The nice thing about older cats is a lot of older people come out, and if theyve had a pet for a long time, they want an animal but dont want a kitten, Ms. Hayden-Shutts said.
It maybe entices the older group of people to come out. Theyre on a fixed income and cant afford $75, but they can take a nice lap cat home, she said.
Under the program, potential pet owners still have to fill out paperwork and meet the Massena Humane Societys criteria for adoption. Once thats done, lovable felines like Soot are theirs for free.
They are very strict about where these animals go, Ms. Hayden-Shutts said. They dont want them to come back. They make very sure the animals are going to good homes. They do a very good job of it.
While Soot is next in line, Ms. Hayden-Shutts said there will be others.
My goal is to do a cat a month, she said.