Taking care of the less fortunate

Taking care of the less fortunate

by Eric A Thomas

One area social worker not only has a heart to help other human beings but also has found herself helping the pet world.

Approximately 10 months ago, Maggie Hea found herself faced with taking care of two bottle-fed kittens. These kittens are classified as neonatal kittens; because they were separated from their mother too early, they needed to be bottle-fed. Hea has always been fond of kittens and there is a plethora of information to help someone self-educate on how to help the neonatal population. So, within the last several months, she has fostered up to 19 at a time and approximately 300 in total since she started. She has decided to name this endeavor Animal Medical.

The name was an easy choice for Hea. “In those early days, we may be faced with medical issues. There are many helpful and informative documents that educate you to know what to do,” she comments.

Hea adds, “As they approach adoption time, we involve a veterinarian for immunizations and other needed procedures.” It is important as well that all kittens are spayed or neutered before they are adopted. That can happen as early as four to eight weeks up to five or six months old.

When they first take the kittens, it is hard to save the ones that are just a day or two old. “Many of those don’t make it. It is heartbreaking,” Hea states.

She continues, “But it is very rewarding when one survives, is adopted, and you know it can bring joy to the family for 20 years.”

Hea works with Morgan County Animal Control mostly but has also worked with Pike and Cass counties. Other kittens are given to them by friends of the family that don’t have a nursing mother to care for them. While she has been only doing this animal care work for the last several months, prior to that she would nurse the kittens and take them back to the shelter — a situation that caused her to rethink the whole picture.

She decided to team up with Pet Supply Plus and hold adoption events at their Jacksonville location. In addition to having the cats for adoption, she also has available a binder with pictures of all the dogs available through Morgan County Animal Control and Pike County. “This has been, I believe, very helpful to get more publicity for the dogs and their odds of being adopted. The staff at Pet Supply Plus has been very helpful in giving me space for each adoption event. They help me set up and tear down and even provide a place for me to store my supplies,” she remarks. At least 50 cats have been adopted through these events.

Hea is a licensed clinical social worker by trade and has been working in the profession for 20 years. She has a full-time job and a private practice. Teaching empathy to her clients is a part of what she does. “It is my belief that animals help teach children empathy in a way that their human caregivers cannot. So, some of the bottle-fed kittens we save may be the best friend to the little boy or little girl that needs to learn about empathy,” she concludes. It is her hope that she is making a difference with her social work clients, and by helping the neonatal kittens live another day to be an important part in someone’s life.

The best way to reach Hea regarding kittens is to contact Morgan County Animal Control and they will get in touch with her. She can also be reached through her Facebook page by searching “Animal Medical.”

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