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Cats find Companion in Michele

Cats find Companion in Michele
Michele Quandt is the founder of the nonprofit Camp Companion for stray, farm and feral cats.

If you are one of the lucky people in the world who knows what it's like to have the love and companionship of a dog or cat, you might share with me a great appreciation for all those people who work so hard to help animals.

Michele Quandt, the founder of the nonprofit Camp Companion , is one of those people. In 2003, Michele started the organization as an all-volunteer-operated trap, spay and neuter program for stray, farm and feral cats.

Her goal was, and still is, to make a significant impact on reducing the number of cats and kittens that end up homeless because people don't, for whatever reason, spay and neuter their animals. Most of the work Camp Companion does is on farms, and the veterinarian bills and medications are all paid for through donations.

Today, Camp Companion strives to spay and neuter between 2,000 and 3,000 cats per year.

In addition to those efforts, and her in-home pet care job, Michele began an adoption program in 2006. Camp Companion works with PetSmart to keep and show some of its cats for adoption in the stores. The rest, as well as some dogs, are cared for in foster homes.

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"When I started Camp Companion, I thought maybe we would do a little bit (of adoption)," Michele said. "But the truth is we're adopting out more animals than any other organization in southeast Minnesota right now. And that's phenomenal for an all-volunteer, all-foster home program."

But the last year has been a tough one for Michele. She lost her home in Oronoco to the flooding that happened last September. She still hasn't resolved the situation with her property and she and her three dogs are living in a friend's camper.

However, she said friends and Camp Companion volunteers — especially Teresa Zais, who took over much of the responsibilities when Michele could not — have kept her and the organization afloat.

"Volunteers are so important in a community," she said. "They may think that they're coming out for two hours, but two and two and two makes a day. When more volunteers come together, more happens. We all can give that. We don't have to have anything besides a little time."

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