note: Ruth Fordon and Gael Hawkins are board members of
the group that sponsored the July clinic on Ocracoke.)
July 19, was a day the members of Ocracats had been preparing for
several months. Still, we are amazed at the number of details it takes
to plan and host a clinic of this size on Ocracoke.
This clinic to spay and neuter feral cats had been planned since last
fall by Hyde County Animal Control Officer J. M. Eakes and Dr. Kelli
Ferris of the North Carolina State University School of Veterinary
The first date was cancelled because of scheduling issues. However, the
56-foot long mobile medical unit from the School of Veterinary Medicine
finally arrived on that Monday afternoon and was parked in the grassy
area next to the Ocracoke Fire House after the long ride from Raleigh.
Dr. Kelli Ferris, clinical professor of community practice, her two vet
technicians and two volunteers worked well into the late afternoon heat
to ready the mobile unit for the surgeries scheduled to begin at 8 a.m.
on Tuesday, July 20 continue through Friday, July 23.
The North Carolina Ferry Division donated the ferry fee, both
ways, for the huge rig and the Fire Hall offered not only a parking
spot but also use of power, water, and staging areas that included air
conditioning, not only for recovering cats but also for very hot
Ocracats was in the process of regrouping over the winter, which
coincided with the plans being developed by Eakes and Ferris.
group applied for and received a generous grant from the Outer Banks
Community Foundation, along with an outpouring of support from the
community and from visitors to the island.
These funds provided Ocracats with enough money to not only support
this clinic but also to sponsor a one-day clinic by a volunteer
veterinarian from Elizabeth City in the late spring that spayed or
neutered 30 cats. The number of cats that were trapped for that clinic
that could not be accommodated made this recent clinic all the more
When we first spoke with Eakes about the N.C. State clinic, it appeared
that Hyde County had funds in its budget for this event.
it turned out that Hyde County never had the funds available. The
previous N.C. State clinics on mainland Hyde were funded by donations
to the School of Veterinary Medicine.
In addition, Ocracats has learned that the county has ended its
contract with Eakes because of budget issues and will no
have an animal control officer in the county. County residents are
disappointed and angry, since Eakes has provided this much needed
service over the last several years.
Fortunately, Ocracats, Inc., a local non-profit organization started in
the early ‘90s, was able to campaign for donations, lodging,
food, and volunteers to make the July clinic work.
In four days, 97 cats received surgery and were either released back
into their colonies or were taken to foster care volunteers who will
work to tame them and, hopefully, find them adoptive homes. Amazingly,
96 of the cats treated were very healthy.
None of this successful clinic event would have ever been possible
without the tremendous support of the N.C. State School of Veterinary
Medicine doctors and their able assistants and volunteers -- Drs. Kelli
Ferris and Korinn Sader, vet techs Mary
Clarke and Judy Wagaman, and volunteers Frances Crockes and Dana Clarke
(enlisted by their moms, Kelli, and Mary).
Ocracats also thanks J.M. Eakes who worked with Ocracoke residents to
trap cats for four days and managed to smile through it all.
To the Ocracoke community, whose members shared their energy,
hospitality, and resources to make this clinic possible, “thank you”
doesn’t seem like enough.
Tracy Smith, owner of the Mary Francis Cottage on Creek Road, donated
her cottage during prime rental season for housing for the N.C. State
crew, who were overwhelmed by the accommodations. Lunches and
snacks were provided by Jennifer Rich (leftovers were wonderful!),
Jason’s, Pony Island, Thai Moon, Sweet Tooth, and The Coffee
Shop. Volunteers who braved the heat and the sometimes very
unhappy cats were Katie O’Neal, Carson O’Neal, Caroline Temple, Brandon
O’Neal, Carmie Prete, Mickie Baker, Beverly Meeker, Tom Payne, Felicity
Gage, Eny Mutro, Ken Debarth, Keryl Jensen, Barbara Hardy, Merle Davis,
Kay Hornung, June Razwilavichi, and Rita Thiel.
Dick Jacobi and the Fire House crew were onboard from the beginning.
Without their support, the clinic location would have not been
possible. But on Thursday, Dick and his pals really proved that they
could rally for any emergency. The N.C. State mobile unit
generator died. Ernie and Darlene Styron Dozier volunteered a
portable generator that might work. Dick and Ernie and John Ferrara,
assisted by Jake Johnson and Andy Todd, somehow patched together a
workable machine that powered the mobile clinic for the next day and a
An unexpected result of the clinic was the trapping of more than 15
kittens about 12 weeks old, just meeting the requirements for the
clinic. They were not released, but instead they have been fostered in
groups of five by Rita Thiel, Gael Hawkins, and Barbara Jemison.
Ocracats is especially grateful to Barbara Jemison for turning her
bathroom into a nursery and taming these semi-wild kittens. Six of
them have been tamed and placed in good homes.
Some of the kittens are still available for adoption. Click
here to see some photos and a poster with more information.
There were many anonymous donors who put money in the Ocracats jar,
adopted kittens, or simply expressed their support of the neuter/spay
efforts that Ocracats is trying to accomplish.
Again, thank you to everyone.