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Difference Makers

 

Animal Farm

When people are down on their luck, so are their pets. Laura Pople, of Seer Farms,
cares for animals until their owners climb back on their feet.
 

Cheryl Vitow and Laura Pople
Seers Farms cofounders Cheryl Vitow holds Precious (left) while Laura Pople cuddles Jon Jon.  Photography by Nick Romanenko

Two years ago, when people started losing their jobs, savings, and homes in droves, Laura Pople GSNB’90, ’93 began to wonder: Who was looking after their pets? She wanted to volunteer with an organization that cared for families’ furry friends in these times of upheaval. Unable to find one, she created her own: Seer Farms, a long-term boarding facility for pets whose owners are facing evictions, foreclosures, domestic violence, natural disasters, and other crises (seerfarms.org).

“When people contact us, they often feel hopeless,” Pople says. “They’ve already explored other avenues, and they think the only option is to give up their animal to a shelter.” By turning to Seer Farms, owners know they will ultimately be reunited with their pets and can even visit while they work to recover.

Located in Jackson, New Jersey, Seer Farms typically houses 120 animals (mostly cats) in indoor and outdoor facilities. Pet owners pay $50 a pet each month—or what they can afford. Pople thus relies on donations and volunteers, including Rutgers alumnae—cofounder Cheryl Vitow CC’87, board president Anne Ciemnecki NCAS’73, and membership chair Karen CyBulski RC’85, GSNB’90—to oversee the organization and maintain the three-acre property.

In its first 18 months, Seer Farms reunited 67 animals with their owners. “When people come back to retrieve their pets,” Pople says, “it’s just the best day for us, for them, and for their animals.” Encouraged by its success, Pople hopes to establish satellite facilities to respond to “the clamor we hear from communities all around the country.”
                                                                                                                                                           — Molly Petrilla