Pelican has been ‘model’ city for homeless cat rescue, spay-neuter-return campaigns in area 

The “Friends of the Feral Cat” have been well known in the Pelican Rapids and lakes area as advocates who promote spaying or neutering cats.  

Hazel Hovde, left, and Anita Pearson, Pelican Rapids, well known advocates for homeless cats and TNR Trap-Neuter-Return are pictured with a couple kittens that were recently dropped off. The local group has restructured as “Hazel’s Cat Friends of Pelican Rapids.” Though non-profit status has not yet been formally processed, the group is encouraging area volunteer and financial support.

Pelican Rapids became a “model city,” and the efforts, led by Pelican resident Hazel Hovde, have been endorsed by the Pelican Rapids City Council since about 2003. Over ten years, more than 2,000 cats were serviced in Otter Tail and surrounding areas–preventing the birth of as many as 47,000 homeless cats.

Sadly,  one of the leaders of the cat advocacy group, Gary Ruehmann died about three years ago, and his wife Jeanne Cannady, has sustained health problems as well. Cannady is offering direction and advice, but has been unable to continue an active role on behalf of cats. Friends of the Feral Cat and other humane organizations advocate TNR, which is Trap, Neuter, Return–as a long term approach to reduce stray cat populations. 

The success of the movement is a “legacy to their foresight, persistence, and dedication to hard work,” said Hovde of the late Ruehmann and Cannady. 

These are the qualities that a group of Pelican area cat advocates hope to emulate as they continue under the name “Hazel’s Cat Friends of Pelican Rapids.”

To carry on this valuable work, they are encouraging the Pelican area community to affirm the program  and continued commitment to control the cat population. 

Though the restructured local TNR group has not yet been processed as a formal non-profit, Hovde is seeking resources–volunteer and financial.  

“We continue in faith, just as we did ten years ago,” said Hovde, a longtime Pelican resident and retired teacher with the Pelican school district. “Remember that the same Lord who sees the sparrow fall; is the same one who watches the cats and how we treat them.”

“We’re based out of Pelican Rapids, but we’re willing to reach out to the surrounding area,” said Pearson, but people who need assistance are asked to come into Pelican whenever possible. 

As recently as a few weeks ago, Hazel was greeted with a crate of thirteen cats. There were a mother calico,  an orange father, and babies–about half calico, half orange.  

Some of them were  transfered to “Cat’s Cradle” in Fargo, an organization with which Hovde works.  Several of the pets have been adopted to happy homes.

Volunteers with Hazel’s Cat Friends include Anita Pearson, Fay Reid, Katharine Montgomery Hagen, Jamie Bartch, Dioane Everhart, Pam Franklin, Julie Kjos-Hunter, and Brandon Pearson. 

Cat’s Cradle is a shelter for rescued cats and kittens, cared for by a volunteer group.  

Hazel and friends also work with Minn-Kota PAWS, another non-profit animal rescue organization.

For information on how to assist the local cat TNR efforts, contact Hazel Hovde at 218-863-5361 or   Anita Pearson, 218-731-5448.