Only Kindness Rescue: Advocacy for Animal Welfare and Wildlife Preservation


Isabel Birritteri, Copy Editor

Only Kindness Rescue along with the new Animal Welfare program on the William Paterson University campus are continuing their efforts and advocacy for the campus cats and other animals in need this semester. 

The nonprofit took on the task of controlling the stray cat population five years ago and has developed a community around caring for those that have been abandoned. Last semester the Animal Welfare Program was introduced in partnership with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion during the university’s Communiversity Day and Part-Time Job Fair. Where students learned more about career and volunteer opportunities in the surrounding area. 

Only Kindness Rescue was also a part of Pioneer Service Venture Day, a day in which students helped clean and replenish the various cat houses around campus. The nonprofit worked with 20 students that chose the project as their civic engagement opportunity. Students helped clean and refresh old cat habitats, assembled and camouflaged new ones to replace the ones lost or damaged in hurricane Ida. Through acts of service and helping to care for the cats, students can get credit towards a social justice leadership badge.

Only Kindness Rescue offers great opportunities for students to make a connection with social justice using an environmental justice, animal rights lens,” said Yolany Gonell, the Director for Student Diversity and Inclusion at William Paterson University. “There is great value to students who are interested in learning more about animal welfare issues from a diverse range of notable vets, activists, authors, via the Zoom Paw Calls. These calls inspire students towards new career paths that support their passions.”

On Thursday evenings, Only Kindness Rescue hosts “Zoom Paw Calls,” where students get to hear from guest speakers and learn their stories surrounding animal rescue. Interested in attending? Students can either send a DM to @onlykindnessrescue on Instagram or email the group at [email protected] to receive both an invite and notifications.

Last semester, the “Zoom Paw Calls” guests have been Erin Earley, Director of Community Engagement at the ASPCA; Grace Hamline, founder of W-Underdogs – a program for at-risk youth to connect with animals in underserved communities; Calvin Tucker, the founder of SOCAT; Joe Rocco and Jackie Roche of The Broken Antler, a wildlife search and rescue program; and Carlyn Montes De Oca, author of “Dog as my Doctor, Cat as my Nurse.”

The Kindness Kitties group also took a trip to Unbridled Heroes, a horse sanctuary that helps veterans deal with their traumas. The guest speakers and trip to Unbridled Heroes were all sponsored by Lakeland Bank.

“I thought it was an emotional but incredible experience to learn about the Unbridled Heroes Project. Being able to communicate and touch the horses made me want t make a change,” said Katherine, a William Paterson senior. “It made me want to help animals that are in need of rescue.”

The Kindness Kitties, are made up of those who are part of the program that help care for the community cats. Through both zoom calls and trips, they have also learned about other animal welfare programs.

“The activities I’ve been participating in during my time as a Kindness Kitty in the Pioneer Paws program has been so therapeutic,” said Gabby R. a William Paterson sophomore. “Being able to help the cats and our community, and meeting people who are doing the same has sparked a flame of hope that things aren’t so bad.”

While the community cats are cared for at William Paterson University, it is important to keep in mind that they do not choose to live in the wild. Companion animals must never be abandoned in the wild.

April 23rd from 9:30 am till 5:30 pm Only Kindness Rescue will be hosting a field trip to the Tamerlaine Sanctuary & Preserve. If interested students can reach Only Kindness Rescue at [email protected] or sign up on Pioneer Life.