JILL'S NEXT DOOR FELINE ALLIANCE PROGRAM

CAT COLONY FEEDER & FOSTER PARENT

Jill Merjeski is a long-standing pet rescue advocate and owner of Jill’s Next Door Dog Walking & Pet Services, LLC. Due to Florida’s warm climate, Palm Beach County is absolutely inundated with cat colonies that need care. She began her rescue efforts in 2016 by feeding local cat colonies During this time, she undertook fostering kittens with Kitty Karma of Delray. Out of the 9 kittens fostered, 3 flew up north to forever families, 3 found local homes, and Jill adopted the last 3. After a year of fostering with Kitty Karma, she decided to impact the feline community on a deeper level and broaden her rescuing efforts by creating alliances with several local animal rescues in Palm Beach County, Florida. In 2020, Jill became a certified Trap, Neutered, and Release Professional through the Animal Rescue Professionals Association.

CAT-CARE SPECIALIST

In 2017 and 2018, Jill continued feeding her cat colonies and also increased her feline knowledge base. She completed several online cat care classes, specializations, and certifications through Pet Sitters International (PSI) while fostering through Florida's Forgotten Felines, Inc. In 2 years, Jill fostered and aided in adoption of over 50 kitties while working on her own cat rescue alliance program.

 

JND FELINE ALLIANCE PROGRAM

In 2019, Jill was eager to expand her cat community outreach and founded Jill’s Next Door Feline Alliance Program (FAP). FAP is a self-funded, advocacy and feline adoption program created as an alliance with local pet rescues around Broward and Palm Beach Counties, Florida. FAP has worked with Florida’s Forgotten Felines, iHeart Animals, Kitty Karma of Delray, Animal Rescue Force, among others; aligning its goals with their feline saving and adoption endeavors. Despite the pandemic of 2020, her efforts have only grown stronger due to most rescues being closed. Jill is currently fostering 8 kittens and cats and promoting their adoption through multiple digital platforms. Although no one was able to predict this pandemic, Pet Sitters International's Disaster Planning for Professional Pet Sitters certification certainly helped Jill with her preparedness and confidence. In late 2020, Jill became a certified foster home and parent through the Animal Rescue Professionals Association.

ONLINE PET ADOPTION ADVOCACY

Today, Jill’s Next Door Feline Alliance Program has aided and served hundreds of rescue animals, and Jill has fostered over 100+ felines and counting as of May 2020! She is bringing adoption and rescue awareness through engaging FAP social media accounts she has created. Jill has a large following on her social media platforms and takes beautiful pictures and videos of her fostering experience, These online platforms connected forever families with FAP kittens, in addition, has reunited lost cats with their original owners! Jill is also a member of several pet rescue Facebook pages, offering fostering and help when needed through the community. Her online adoption efforts tripled since the pandemic began.

HOME KITTEN NURSERY

Since the number of Jill’s successful fosters and adoptions continued to climb, Jill designed a home nursery strictly dedicated to foster kitties. The nursery includes: wall cat mazes, pack and plays, playpens, toys, in addition to supplies for bottle feeding babies (heat lamps, heating pads, medicine, weight scales, etc). Kittens are monitored 24/7 in home with a team of volunteers to assure they are getting the proper medications, vaccinations, and medical care when needed.

VOLUNTEERS

Fostering kitties is a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year job. Jill needed some help with duties such as: socialization, medical care, raising awareness, adoption connections, advocacy and nursery clean up. Jill onboarded a wonderful volunteer, Mandy Plato, also a rescue advocate, to help aid FAP’s efforts. Mandy often spends hours in FAP’s home nursery interacting and socializing kittens, increasing their adoption probability. Our second volunteer is Tony Sakal, a Trap, Neuter, & Release (TNR) trapper and local cat feeder. We call on Tony when FAP receives calls of concern from the community regarding feral cats and kittens. Tony is dedicated to trapping cats/kittens for population control, providing FAP with medical care when needed, preparing them for adoption or releasing them back to their colony. You can meet Mandy and Tony here. 

HELPING RESCUES UPDATE THEIR BUSINESS MODEL

FAP works very closely with our alliance Florida’s Forgotten Felines (FFF). FFF is an organization, dedicated to feeding and caring for over 850 cats in over 70 colonies in Palm Beach County. However, FFF was in desperate need of an updated website and business model to raise awareness and to increase donations. Jill also provided her professional services pro bono to build and design an engaging website found here: Florida's Forgotten Felines, and redesigned their logo. Jill took professional photos of FFF in action, including them on their website. Jill has updated their out-of-date business model, created and maintains FFF social media accounts and developed a hiring system listed on multiple platforms to find qualified cat feeders to keep FFF thriving.

FUNDRAISING FOR A CATIO FOR UNADOPTABLE CATS

Most recently, Jill and her team member Tony Sakal have founded a residential cat farm in Loxahatchee, FL. FAP raised over $2,000 to build a farm catio (cat patio) shelter for disabled, elderly, or unadoptable cats, found through FAP. The catio serves to protect these innocent souls from predators whilst providing standard cat and medical care. On May 11, 2020, Jill broke ground for the catio launch and designed a dedication plaque to honor our generous catio donors. Jill is also placing 3 of her current fosters on the farm as barn cats--as they are too feral for adoption.

JILL'S PET CARE COMPANY GIVES BACK

Since FAP is self funded, a percentage of proceeds earned from Jill’s Next Door Dog Walking & Pet Services, LLC is dedicated to caring for fosters and colony kitties (food, supplies, and monetary donations).

 

ANIMAL RESCUE ADOPTION EVENTS & SPONSORSHIPS

Jill’s Next Door has sponsored and volunteered at local pet rescue events held annually in Palm Beach County. Namely, volunteering with Dezzy’s Second Chance Animal Rescue’s adoption event in 2017 and acting as a company sponsor for their Saint PETrick’s Day Parade in 2018. In 2020, we registered to sponsor additional events that have since been cancelled due to the pandemic--which is why we are strengthening efforts to raise pet adoption awareness online. In 2021, we sponsored events with Dezzy's Second Chance, Family Promise, & EJS Project.

ANIMAL RESCUE AWARDS 

  • PET SITTERS INTERNATIONAL (PSI) 2020 PET ADOPTION ADVOCATE OF THE YEAR
  • INTERNATIONAL BOARDING & PET SERVICES ASSOCIATION (IBPSA) 2020 PETATARIAN OF THE YEAR

 

ADDITIONAL REFERENCES

Susan Carmichael, Founder of Florida’s Forgotten Felines: 561-641-5717

Brandy Everington, All About the Cats: 561-277-5108

Tony Sakal, Florida's Forgotten Felines: 561-310-0425

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

Jill’s Next Door is always accepting volunteers for the JND Feline Alliance Program to help socialize, care, and increase adoption odds for feral cats and kittens. Please email [email protected] and www.felineallianceprogram (still in the works) for more information.

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