Wednesday, July 15, 2015

An Interview with Volunteer Extraordinare Deb Navari #BtC4A

I adopted Truffles having never met her. I saw her picture on PetFinder, instantly fell in love, and didn't see her in person until I picked her up at the Petco adoption center. That's what makes this month's Blog the Change post so special to me.

Truffles (and Tara before her) were both adopted from Franklin County Animal Rescue in St. Albans, Vermont, which is about 30 miles north of me. I've always said that shelter volunteer extraordinare Deb Navari "delivered my baby" because she was the transport driver that drove Truffles to Burlington...and to me.

Just days before I lost Truffles so unexpectedly, I finally got to meet Deb in person when I brought some donated food to her house for her next trip north. We had the nicest visit and I even got to meet the two current litters of foster kittens that she's caring for. I found myself completely in awe of the tireless work that she does on behalf of animals, from anything that needs doing at the shelter and it's remote adoption centers to turning her hot tub room into a foster care room. She was even nominated for the Purina Cat Chow Shelter Volunteer of the Year contest for the State of Vermont!

Deb is the epitome of what "being the change" means to me and I hope that you're as inspired as I am by everything she does for animals. I want to thank her for taking the time to answer my interview questions on very short notice, and I will forever be grateful to her for the gift of Truffles.

Melissa: Could you tell us how you came to work with Franklin County Animal Rescue?

Deb: I happen to have 2 beautiful felines from FCAR, and have always loved animals…and I always said, “if I EVER retire…its something that I’d love to help a shelter.” So naturally, seeing my crew was from there, I would drive up and see if I could help.

What is a typical day like in the rescue work you do?

My typical day, starts at 5:30am…up to feed the foster kits! Feed and Scoop…check them over from head to toe…butts to noses…that’s what a good foster nana does. Eye and Ear issues, loose bowel issues you want to take care of right away…sniffles…just like they were children…THEY can’t tell you…YOU have to spot an issue. Then cleaning their room…changing their bedding.

Little Playtime and snuggle time…Socializing, especially if it’s a very skittish or feral kitten, the more you interact, the more relaxed around humans they become! (Start this process very early if they come to the shelter feral.) That why fostering is SO important…if a feral kitten is left at the shelter in a crew of 5-8 other kittens, they will still be very skittish unless touched, interacted with for at least 3 weeks….it’s their instinct to run, hide and hiss! They usually come around when in a foster home setting where they are carried around and played with lots… to be pretty social little ones!

This continues throughout my day until night time, where they usually have an open window to see birds and smell the fresh outdoor air…

If its my shelter day, I’m either scheduled to bring in some of my fosters for rechecking health issues or a surgery day where they will be spayed or neutered, then come home with me for recoup! Then I usually get to meet the new adoptive family! Yeahy!

While at the shelter, I put away food that I transported in…or items that were donated to the shelter…

Clean cages, check cats and kittens that are in shelter to see if there are any with special needs or socialization that I can bring home with me, wash carriers.

Last week there was a leak in the surgery room sink…I tightened the drains…all was well!

Put in a load of laundry…pick up have a heart cages dropped off from being borrowed, straighten the storage shed…I use to mow the lawn, but it became just too much for me to handle…

There is so much to do that the workers just can get over whelmed…but also a challenge to see what needs to be done without asking…my parents instilled that in my upbringing!

What are some of the greatest hardships that you see for homeless animals here in northern Vermont?

I really have a hard time with people who move and leave their pets behind…the animals get accustomed to being fed and housed…then are deserted and really can’t fend for themselves. If they have been inside cats…unfamiliar with location, cars, dogs…it can be such a struggle for a pet. Sad so many are left to fend for themselves…owners of “free” kittens, usually never make the attempt to Spay or Neuter…they want to “experience” having a litter… well, you know the rest of the story on that one…we all do!

What do you find is the most rewarding part and the most difficult part of animal rescue?

Most rewarding: Bottle feeding an infant “Prussian Blue-7toed” 6 day old kitten, stranded in a raining parking lot in the middle of the night…and trimming her toenails, 4 years later at 14 LBS…in her adopted mom’s arms! 

Most difficult Part: Knowing we can’t save them all! Loosing a foster after close care, 2 to 3 night time feedings: You are exhausted emotionally and physically…and there is nothing you can do about it! Mother Nature has a plan…

What are some ways that we can all chip in to help animals in need?

See what the immediate needs are to your local shelters…food/litter…and Help donate to Spay and Neuter Programs…trap and release programs….It would so help each community!


  1. It sounds like Deb does some really amazing work! I'm so glad there are kitten foster moms out there like her to help give little kittens the second chance they deserve.

  2. Great interview! It's wonderful that there are some amazing people like Deb out there helping these poor kitties.

    Purrs xx
    Athena and Marie

  3. what a great interview....and we are glad you got to meet her in person. the world needs more people like Deb

  4. Excellent interview- Deb sounds like an amazing woman.

  5. Wonderful interview and I so admire people like Deb and all the others who work so hard for rescue animals.
    Great to meet you and discover your blog thanks to the hop. :)

  6. Thank you, Deb, for all you do!

  7. That is an amazing interview and bless you Deb for all that you do to help those innocent animals!

  8. What a great interview! Deb is an awesome example of the amazing people who work hard to be the change for animals. A truly inspiring woman, and we're all grateful for all she does (none more than you because of Truffles, no doubt!)

    ...and thank you for being - and blogging - the change for animals!
    Kim Thomas
    Be the Change for Animals

  9. Pawsum innewview posty. And what cute fotos. Have a gweat day. Weez sendin' purrayers.

    Luv ya'

    Dezi and Lexi

  10. Mom's pretty ticked off that she forgot about Be The Change day. This was a terrific and informative interview. The photos were also purrfect. Melissa, you remain in Mom's thoughts and prayers. XOCK, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

  11. Whoa! Lots of us wrote about TNR. Deb is a hero. TW wishes I had been fostered and socialized as I’m still skittish at times even of them. Autumn was socialized and was always a love bug. My peeps only saw me on PetFinder until the Adoption Event at the vet.

  12. Great interview ! Rescue people do an amazing job ! Purrs

  13. Wonderful post--very inspiring! Thank you, Deb, for all that you do to help shelter animals! :)

  14. Such a great interview, and just imagining having days be so filled with stuff starting at 5:30 every morning makes me admire Deb's work so much. It's amazing how giving and caring animal advocates are, and Deb sounds like a real hero to animals.

  15. What a wonderful woman! I take my hat off to anyone who can handle those jobs. They go through so much heartache! They deal with the worst of humanity. I'm glad that people like her are there of the homeless pets in need.
    -Purrs from your friends at

  16. I love interviews that bring home thee goodness in some that counters the utter and completely vacant stupidity of those who dump cats and kittens. Karma will visit it is not for me to judge!

    Hope you are doing OK Melissa.

  17. We admire people like Deb who work tirelessly with rescues.

  18. Deb sounds like an extraordinary person. A true angel. The cats and kittens of Vermont are so lucky to have her.

  19. People like that are special ordered. What a giving heart.