Fur & Feathers flies the coop

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By Kelly LeVan

Next time you see a sick skunk or find a ring-tailed cat in your tool shed, don’t call Bob and Cathy Anderson, the force behind Fur & Feathers Rescue & Rehabilitation. The couple’s longtime business is now closed.

Bob has already left for Texas, and Cathy will follow soon behind.

For the Andersons, the move is very positive.

“I’ve always wanted a mini-horse ranch,” Cathy said. “Bob’s always wanted to have space for his wallabies. That’s the main reason we’re leaving town. We want a place where our animals can have some space.”

The Andersons’ Los Alamos home was set on a third-acre plot. The couple will have 16 acres at their new home, located southeast of Dallas.

“We’re excited,” she said. “We’ve got the 16 acres and there’s trees and pastures … We’re looking forward to finally retiring.”

However, the Andersons’ departure leaves Los Alamos in a lurch, especially in terms of mammal rescues.

The nonprofit Fur & Feathers has functioned for more than 18 years, providing free rescue and rehabilitation to wild and exotic animals that are sick, injured, abandoned or in need of a safe home.

Bob, who grew up in Los Alamos, and his wife Cathy, aided by a dedicated cadre of family and volunteers, have rescued thousands of animals, from skunks and raccoons to ring-tailed cats, miniature horses and wallabies.

“Since we started,” Bob said, “we have rescued more than 9,200 animals in Los Alamos. We were hoping to get to 10,000 so we could have a big party – but maybe in the next place.”

The Andersons also provided information and hands-on help –available 24 hours a day, seven days a week – for Los Alamosans with “wild-animal situations” such as a raccoon in a clothes closet or under a barbeque grill, a skunk family under a deck, or a big snake in a garage.

The Andersons’ for-profit company, Kritter Gitters, helped the community deal with nuisance animals such as pocket gophers that kill fruit trees and devastate landscaping.

“At any given time, we’d have 60-100 animals, depending on rescues,” Cathy said, adding that the couple is moving to Texas with only four mini-donkeys, five mini-horses, four wallabies, three cats and two dogs.

The Andersons’ philosophy is to act in the best interest of the animal, to return it to its natural environment or provide it with medical care, if necessary. Along the way, the Andersons educated homeowners and the community about co-existing with wild creatures.

They also provided formal educational services for children and workshops to train animal rescuers. Visitors were always welcome to see the many animals that were in various stages of rehab or were waiting for a new home.

“I hope the community continues to stress animal education to the kids,” Cathy said. “This is so important for the future of our little wild animals.”

Los Alamos is not be entirely without animal-rescue services now that the Andersons are moving on to bigger – if not better – pastures.

The Los Alamos Police Department has a system for rescuing snakes – call 662-8222 – and Duck Buddies, which was formed under Fur & Feathers, will continue to watchdog and provide care if needed for the Ashley Pond Ducks.

“We know we’re leaving Duck Buddies in the capable hands of Sallye Sibbitt,” Cathy said, “and we know she’ll continue to look after the ducks.”

Edward Ferdinand and his wife will still be around to help with other bird rescues. Call the couple at 662-7418.

Additionally, local county animal control officers as well as county and volunteer services provide care for abandoned dogs and cats. Nevertheless, community members may be at a loss when confronted by dumped bunnies, unwanted guinea pigs, injured iguanas – or raccoons in their bathtubs.

Until a local system is put in place, those with mammal emergencies are advised to call New Mexico Game and Fish at 505-476-8000.

“We want to thank the many people in Los Alamos who really care about the plight of animals for their support of our efforts,” Bob said. “This is a great caring community and we will miss it.”

Sallye Sibbitt contributed greatly to this article.