WESTFIELD – Two weeks ago a six-year-old girl donated food and toys to the Westfield Regional Animal Shelter as part of a growing trend among child donors.
Sofia, the little girl who donated, brought in the donation for her half birthday instead of her actual birthday because she wanted to celebrate in the nicer weather, a post on the shelter’s Facebook page said.
Then the shelter received another donation from a girl named Rania for her tenth birthday.
“We receive a lot of donations and a small portion of that comes from children but every year more and more kids are opting to donate rather than receive gifts for their birthdays,” said Terri Kutayli, one of the workers at the Westfield Regional Animal Shelter
However, children aren’t the only ones donating to the animal shelter according to Kutayli. Every year businesses and the general public alike contribute by donating supplies such as toys, food and cleaning materials. She added children also bring in coin collection jars in addition to supplies for the shelter.
But the children can contribute with more than just monetary donations, in some cases, they even draw pictures for the animals. Right when potential adopters walk in the first animal in the shelter area is a cat that children recently drew pictures for after it was rescued, Kutayli said.
When shelter guests walk in they are greeted by Daisy, a cockatiel, who sits in a cage in the middle of the shelter’s front office. Daisy is one of many animals found in the shelter. Currently the shelter is full of cats, dogs and rabbits that live in spacious cages and pens.
Bedding donations are one of the most common items donated to the shelter. In the shelter area one of the first things guests see are shelves full of donations with the bedding on the ground in front waiting to be sorted.
This year the shelter has rescued more cats than usual, Kutayli said. “We’ve rescued a lot of cats and kittens this year, it was not like that at all last year,” she explained.
Employees spend time with the animals on a daily basis. Kutayli said the cats are let out into the office and are even allowed to roam the shelter alongside the employees. Every day the dogs are let out several times but the rabbits spend most of their time in the cages due to their more sedentary lifestyles. Right on the side of the shelter is an open pen where the animals are allowed to roam and play at various points throughout the day.
Other than two pregnant cats, just about every animal in the shelter is currently up for adoption.
Despite offering a home for misplaced pets, not everyone in Westfield knows about the shelter just off of Airport Road.
“I am surprised about the number of people in Westfield that don’t realize we have a shelter, especially in such a big city,” Kutayli said.
The shelter is currently open Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday from 12 to 4 p.m. but they will be open on Fridays again soon.