Cats are said to have nine lives, and now, thanks to A Voice for All Paws, cats and kittens in Dallas will have longer and healthier lives.
A Voice for All Paws (AVAP), a nonprofit cat rescue organization, is opening a Cat Café, an adoption center and luxury boarding near Garland and Peavy. Set to open in late 2022, the Cat Café will provide a home for rescue cats eager to be adopted into a forever home, a sanctuary for cat lovers to grab a coffee, and most importantly, the abandoned cats will have access to veterinary care as needed.
The story began when former East Dallas resident, Nancy Stephenson, was working for a dog rescue. There, she met Max, a seven-week-old, mangled kitten. “I checked with other rescues to see if anyone would take Max, but they were full.” Instead of leaving Max in the Shelter, she adopted him. “After Max spent a week in the hospital, having his tail and ear amputated and discovering he would be blind in one eye, he came home with me.” That cat now lives with her in Oregon, where she and her husband recently moved.
Stephenson reached a point that she could no longer foster dogs as she ended up with five herself. “My husband is a big cat lover.” Through online posts, outreach and prayers, she began A Voice for All Paws, a nonprofit foster based rescue specifically for cats and kittens, in 2018. She recruited additional volunteers to help her and formed a board.
By chance, Stephenson met East Dallas resident Caroline Stovall, who is now president of AVAP. Stephenson said, “I was picking up some kittens in South Dallas from a transport, and Caroline was also picking up kittens at the same time, and that’s where we initially met. It was instant sympatico. We both worked for large businesses and had the same mentality for rescue. We used our business acumen to fuel our passion. We kept talking about our dreams for these cats and became good friends.”
Stovall, originally from the UK, was shocked at the animal welfare laws in Texas as she has a passion for all animals. “I’ve worked in a number of rescues in Dallas, but I finally decided that it was time to take the next step.” She and her husband, Rob, proved to be the team needed to turn this dream of a cat café and adoption center into a reality.
With the Stovalls’ generous donation, they purchased two buildings to provide a physical space for the Cat Boarding and A Voice for All Paws: one building to house a cat café and adoption area located at 1211 Casa Vale (about 3,500 sq. ft.), and the other for a cat boarding business at 10320 Garland Road (about 1,600 sq. ft.). The nonprofit identified the East Dallas area near Garland and Peavy as a central location providing relatively easy access to intake and adopt out abandoned cats and kittens. These buildings are now being renovated with a planned opening later this year.
Stovall said, “Our team, along with volunteers, will run the cat café and adoption center. We will run it like a business with a coffee shop where people can work. We see (the coffee shop) as a means of funding our non-for-profit organization, too.”
When cats are found and don’t have homes, the organization gets them the treatments they need – spay/neuter, deworming, medications, baths, dipping, a full exam by a vet, shots, and a check for parasites. This process is often expensive. The second part is to get kittens and cats socialized around people and other animals. After that process, they are ready to be adopted. Having a place where people can visit cats ready for adoption will be a huge benefit to AVAP.
Though Nancy has moved to Oregon, she is still involved in operations, fundraising and marketing, while Caroline now handles the day-to-day aspects.
Other board members who are involved in the day-to-day aspects of the rescues and have helped this dream become a reality include Libby Cooley, Shelley Dai, Dr. Gail Bushur-Irwin (Medical Director), all local East Dallas residents.
Once the cat café and adoption center open, A Voice for All Paws will help even more strays. They invite the public to spread the word and help support its efforts online with any type of donation. They are also looking for volunteers who want to help, especially when they open their doors. Find out more online at https://avoiceforallpaws.com/