Woman hopes to keep helping cats

2013-01-11T08:03:00Z 2013-01-11T15:39:49Z Woman hopes to keep helping catsBy Cathy Ingalls, Albany Democrat-Herald Albany Democrat Herald

Jody Harmon of Albany is 56 years old, but it wasn’t until about 12 years ago that she said she found love for the first time.

That love wasn’t familial love or love from friends. Rather, the love that gave her life purpose came from a colony of feral cats that lived with Harmon on the banks of the Willamette River in Corvallis.

“Those cats became my family,” she said. “Everyone has to have love and that’s where I found it. I like to tell people my real life began in 2001 when I was homeless in Corvallis.”

Prior to living on the river, Harmon said, she was in the mental health system, staying at the Julian Hotel and the Benton Plaza. After a bad experience with a health care professional, she took refuge along the river.

Harmon became so attached to the river cats that she has made it her mission since then to trap and neuter as many as funding permits.

Most of those cats in Corvallis were neutered at Eastgate Veterinarian Clinic. She still goes to the clinic but there is no fund set up there for her to use. Then a couple who used to live in Corvallis bought her a live trap to make catching cats easier.

“What Scott and Pam Chadwick started by buying me that trap for the cats and for me was astonishing,” Harmon said.

She still has one of the cats from the river. Her name is Vision and she is 19 years old.

Now Harmon is facing financial problems. One of her neutering funding sources in the Portland area will go out of business early this summer.

Harmon is on Social Security disability insurance and can’t afford to continue her work without additional help.

Being on Social Security prevents her from accepting financial donations to help cover her trapping and neutering costs. However, she can continue her work if she sets up  a nonprofit. She hopes to do that but needs help setting one up, she said.

Anyone who can help her obtain nonprofit status can contact Harmon at 541-928-2543 or email her at bluestray@yahoo.com. She also wants at least two hardworking board members.

Meanwhile, she needs donations of food and litter for the cats waiting to be neutered and for those awaiting adoption. For food, she prefers Kirkland in the purple bag that comes from Costco and Purina One or Purina Cat Chow.

She uses wood pellet fuel for litter.

Photos of cats looking for homes can be seen at www.purr.petfinder.com and videos are available at www.youtube.com/user/Catweedhigh. She will only release cats to indoor homes.

Harmon won’t say how many cats she has at her Albany house that are ready for adoption. The ones that are there have rooms designed for their play and their comfort.

Harmon designed and built enclosed skywalks in the living room that connect with others in the house that eventually lead outside. The walkways are built with salvaged and scavenged materials she’s been given or that she’s found.

Chicken wire and oven racks keep the cats from falling out of the overhead runs, and once the cats are in the backyard, they can’t get out because of fencing and overhead chicken wire.

“I owe stray cats everything because they saved my life,” said Harmon, who estimates she’s helped thousands of cats over the years. “Since I’ve started doing this, there has been a vast improvement in Albany in the number of unneutered cats.”

Cathy Ingalls is the city government reporter. She can be reached at cathy.ingalls@lee.net or at 541-812-6094.

Copyright 2015 Albany Democrat Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. Keating Kitties
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    Keating Kitties - January 11, 2013 4:08 pm
    Jody is a credit to the feline world. She has an amazing talent of understanding the feline mind,sometimes trapping is very difficult,and you have to try to outsmart the cat!
    Jody is also an amazing writer...and has a way of telling a story so that you almost feel like you were there,looking over her shoulder as the event unfolded.
    I haven't met Jody..maybe one day..
    She is a wealth of information and wisdom in dealing with ferals.
    I have followed her blog for a number of years..she has reduced the cat overpopulation in the area by thousands,and thousands...and saved thousands from terrible misery. Her own life story is waiting to be told in a book...this woman has the karma of Ghandi..
  2. ConnieG
    Report Abuse
    ConnieG - January 11, 2013 3:58 pm
    Thanks for sharing Jody's story with your readers. I've been reading her blog for several years & we've become Internet friends. I have also been involved with Trap/Neuter/Return in Central Florida where I live. I can't emphasize enough how dedicated, knowledgeable & hard-working she is. Jody has provided help, not only for the cats she has caught & had fixed, but for the people who have either fed the homeless cats or simply not bothered to get their personal cats fixed. I hope others in the community who want to help her & make a difference in the lives of the community cats will step forward & help her get a non-profit for low cost spay/neuter surgeries up and running. She is truly an amazing person.
  3. K8DHW
    Report Abuse
    K8DHW - January 11, 2013 12:02 pm
    I stand amazed at the full extent of Jody's dedication. Cat wrangling is a nocturnal activity, dark, dank, and dangerous. I worry about her out there in unsavory places in the middle of Oregon nights. Every single penny Jody can get her hands on goes into the enterprise. Never was there an activity more efficient or cost-effective.
  4. Ocean
    Report Abuse
    Ocean - January 11, 2013 11:32 am
    I have known Jody for many years. This woman is a hero and deserves all the help that anyone can offer. Single-handedly she has done more for the cat population in Linn County than any other person I know. Due to her care and Trap-Neuter-Return system, thousands of cats are no longer being born and being abandoned to live a life of pain and misery. It is disgusting that in Linn County there is no place to even take a stray injured cat to be euthanized. Jody spends every last cent of her money on her cats, even denying herself things to do so. The cats at her home are very well cared for - no animal hoarder there. I would support every effort to help her stay in her business of cat spay neuter and care.
  5. SAR
    Report Abuse
    SAR - January 11, 2013 11:10 am

    I met Jody in a desperate internet search of what to do with 5 hungry feral cats that I intended to trap. My goal was to get this abandoned mother cat and her four 2-month old kittens (who were living in nutria dens at the end of Tangent Drive) spayed/neutered and adopted out. I already have 3 cats and didn't need another but I wanted to avoid the exponential growth of another cat colony in our area. Jody put me in contact with a spay/neuter clinic and offered valuable advice in the trapping and care of these cats. Every other local organization that I called said the same thing, "We're full" or "Linn County does not deal with cats." Jody was a lifesaver with unlimited, helpful information. She is truly on a mission to spay and neuter every cat and I wish her well in her zealous mission to help stem the tide of unwanted cats in Linn County. She is a remarkable, knowledgeable lady doing a wonderful service.
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