When flood waters ravaged Warwick in 2010, many pets were displaced from their homes. Christopher P. Hayes Gomm Jr., a senior at Warwick Veterans Memorial High School and assistant scoutmaster of Troop 7 Buttonwoods, and his family adopted one such cat, Misty, following the flood and became her foster family.
Gomm said when the Warwick Animal Shelter was under water due to the floods, the Care For Animals organization provided all of Misty’s medicine free of charge to the family. Now, Gomm wants to return the favor by holding a collection drive for items needed by PAAWS RI, a shelter for cats and kittens and which came out of Care For Animals, as part of his project to become an Eagle Scout.
According to the PAAWS RI website, www.care4animals.net/paaws-ri, “PAAWS RI was formed in December 2011 to address an unmet need within Rhode Island’s companion animal population. The need to form this nonprofit was highlighted through the work of the low cost animal hospital, Care For Animals. As Care For Animals sought to provide medical care to shelter animals, feral cats and to cats and dogs owned by low income pet owners, it became clear that some animals were not getting adequate – even minimal – care, because of budgetary shortfalls.”
PAAWS RI uses two programs to carry out its mission, the first of which is a shelter/rescue program to provide shelter, medical care and rehabilitation to feral cats and homeless cats and dogs. The second program provides funding for medical and surgical services, such as preventative and sick animal care, surgical and dental procedures, vaccinations and spay/neuter surgeries.
“Many cats and dogs are suffering with easily treatable problems because affordable veterinary care is unavailable. We will fill that void with our program to provide funding for medical and surgical services,” according to the website.
Gomm said he is collecting a number of items the shelter needs on a monthly basis, which include non-clumping cat litter, Purina Cat and Kitten Chow dry food, Friskies canned food, paper towels, Lysol wipes, and garbage bags.
“We have also received some random items, such as cat toys and water and food bowls,” he said. “It’s been great working with the shelter. They gave me a pamphlet explaining how to take care of the cats.”
Gomm said the drive started Dec. 1 and will run through the end of this week, Friday in the schools and Sunday for public collection sites. He said he’s placed donation boxes at the following locations: Sandy Lane Meat Market, Village Wellness Center, Warwick Public Library, St. Kevin Church, Heritage Christian Fellowship Church, St. Kevin School, Gorton Junior High School and Warwick Vets High School.
Gomm said he’s encountered some challenges along the way.
“Getting approval [for the collection boxes] at some of the places was a challenge, but also making sure there’s enough room in the boxes for the items because they fill up fast,” he said. “Seeing what people give has been the most enjoyable part.”
Gomm said the Eagle project provides Boy Scouts with a good leadership opportunity.
“Getting things organized and telling people what needs to be done; you need different leading styles for different groups of people,” he said. “It’s an important part of scouting.”
Gomm said he worked with his fellow scouts and troop members to make and decorate the collection boxes that have been placed throughout the community.
While he doesn’t think he’ll pursue a career related to animals, Gomm said he likes being able to help them out and may continue working at the shelter on a volunteer basis.
“I’ve always liked animals, so it feels good to help out a place that cares for the animals,” he said.
Boy Scouts is open to boys ages 11 to 18 and members can join at any time. Troop 7 Buttonwoods is always looking for boys interested in becoming a Boy Scout. The troop meets every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the hall at St. Rose and Clement Church on Long Street.
For more information on PAAWS RI, visit www.care4animals.net/paaws-ri.