Merced County Times Newspaper
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Merced SPCA names new president to lead effort


After nearly 13 years of loyal service to the Merced SPCA, President Florence Lambert has stepped down. While supporters say it’s sad to see her go, another passionate individual has been selected to fill her role. Longtime volunteer and major proponent of the Merced SPCA, Cynthia “Cindy” Kelly was recently voted in as the new president.

“She is dynamic,” Lambert told the Times. “She has been a member for many years and has always volunteered to foster cats that no one else would — hospice kitties and tiny kittens, tripods, burned cats, on and on and on. Right now, she is fostering six kittens approximately 5-8 weeks old that were desperately ill and dumped in one of our colonies.”

Kelly is a longtime resident of Merced and has dedicated over 20 years to the cause of fostering and saving stray animals in the community. Remarkably, she is only one of the three active rescue hospice care providers and one of the few who take in and care for critically injured animals. In that time, she has fostered more than 1,000 cats, puppies, and other animals. Currently, she works full-time as the director of sales and marketing for VIA Trailways, a local charter bus company.

“It wasn’t something that I stepped into lightly,” Kelly said. “It took me almost a month before I was appointed to make a decision. During that month, I shadowed Florence to learn what it would take being at the helm of one of Merced’s oldest nonprofit organizations. I had to be sure I was ready to assume responsibility when the time came.

“I want to take the SPCA back to its foundation — the Merced SPCA started off as an oversight organization for the welfare of farm animals in Merced County in 1969. I want to focus not only on our trap, neuter and release program, but also on being champions for animal welfare in the City of Merced. We have a wonderful relationship with our police department and animal control officers, and we want to continue to make sure that relationship grows so that we can be proactive in animal welfare.

“Our mission has always been to protect and care for the abandoned and abused animals of Merced. We are a group of volunteers that are passionate about what we do and believe that every animal deserves compassion and respect. We will fight to make sure their voices are heard.”

When asked what the most prominent threat that is facing our community’s animal population, Kelly said: “The most important threat is people who have great intentions but actually harm our community colonies by feeding raw meats and human foods. Our colony cats are used to a very structured feeding schedule and are on a specific diet. We’ve worked with our vets to develop a plan that provides them with the correct type and amount of nutrition for outdoor cats. Most citizens who feed our colonies feel that they are doing the right thing. We discourage residents from feeding the cats. If they are overfull, it reduces their natural predatory and hunting instincts, and they may not hunt to rid an area of rodents or pests. Sometimes the foods they are given sometimes make them ill. We’ve had to euthanize cats that would eat tainted meat and were suffering from E.coli. We have signs posted in our colonies to please not feed the community cats. Each colony has one or more caretakers who make sure that they are getting the proper amount and type of food that they need to remain healthy.”


Kelly’s 2024 goals include:

• Continue to build upon the relationship with the City of Merced Police Department and their animal control officers.

• Expand the foster care network for the many cats and kittens dumped in their colonies. This past year was a record year for foster services, with over 75 domesticated cats and kittens placed with fosters.

• Expand rescue partners. The Merced SPCA relies on other no-kill rescues to accept or transport their cats and kittens out of Merced to get them adopted.

• Increase volunteer opportunities. The Merced SPCA is operated by volunteers who donate their time and resources to ensure that our community cats are protected and cared for.

• Educate the community of the importance of community cat colonies and how they can help decrease the populations of spays through spaying and neutering their pets.

• Apply for animal welfare grants that focus heavily on prevention services such as spay/neuter to prevent an increase in homeless cats in Merced.

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