By Pat Young
For Hometown News
Cherie Stockholm keeps very busy finding homes for people and animals.
Ms. Stockholm is up every day between 5 and 6 a.m. to work with assorted dogs, cats, horses, cows, rabbits and roosters on her 10 acres in West Volusia County.
She is president of Angels Have Whiskers, a non-profit animal rescue organization she started in 2004. Some of the animals at her home are her pets. Others are just a few of the animals her organization fosters while they are waiting for permanent homes.
When she is done taking care of the animals, she showers and dresses for work as a Realtor with RE/MAX Property Centre of Ormond Beach. She is frequently up late into the night at her computer doing real estate related work. She works hard at both jobs.
"I'm a home finder," said the petite, energetic lady who describes herself as a "type A" person.
"This is my heart work," she added as she cuddles two puppies, part of a litter left on the curb "like unwanted trash." These are the last two of the litter; she found homes for the rest.
"People need to spay and neuter their pets so there aren't so many unwanted puppies and kittens," Ms. Stockholm continued. She pointed out there are low-cost clinics for spaying and neutering pets, such as at the Halifax Humane Society (386) 274-4703 or the Pet Vet Cruiser bus in Volusia County.
Ms. Stockholm hails from upstate New York, where her love for animals was nurtured on her grandfather's farm.
"Everyone has a calling. I love animals," she said. "People call me Ms. Dr. Doolittle."
She started out randomly picking up animals that needed help. Then she founded Animals Have Whiskers. She found homes for more than 80 animals last year.
She encourages people to adopt, donate money or supplies, or volunteer time. "It doesn't matter which organization you help, as long as you help animals," she said.
She puts the puppies down as she talks and picks up a baby rabbit -- one of a litter someone left at the Goodwill store. She calls on other rescue organizations to help with animals other than cats and dogs, and she is involved with other rescue organizations as well. She takes a minute to talk to other pet owners at a pet park, gently encouraging them to spay and neuter their pets.
She also encourages people to foster animals. "Imagine a family in spring. What a wonderful training experience it would be to foster an animal until they can be adopted," she said. "It teaches kids to be proactive, have compassion and kindness; it might even find the pet a home."
Ms. Stockholm continued talking passionately about her organization, saying, "I'll never retire. I love to work. I have to accomplish things every day or I'm not happy."
When she does find a home for an animal, the person or persons adopting the pet pay a modest fee and are interviewed to make sure the animal will have a good home. Spaying and neutering is mandatory. Ms. Stockholm had 17 animals spayed or neutered in January.
If people can't keep an animal, she suggests they take a great photo of the animal (a black cat, for instance, could be photographed on a hot pink blanket) and make a flyer, posting it at stores and veterinarian offices, and posting it on Facebook and Craigslist. But she says be sure to add, "seeking good home -- references required -- home checks will be done" to assure a good home.
Ms. Stockholm never married and said, "The animals are my family."
She added, "Some people are born with a certain calling. It's hard to explain."
When it comes to animals, she said, "I am the richest person in my heart."
Visit Angels Have Whiskers at AngelsHaveWhiskers.org or email Ms. Stockholm at firstname.lastname@example.org.