A display at the Petersburg Public Library details plans for the new shelter. Photo/Jessica Ieremia

A display at the Petersburg Public Library details plans for the new shelter. Photo/Jessica Ieremia

Write a review about a book, movie, or album and help fund a new cat shelter in Petersburg. That’s the idea behind a new program at the Petersburg Public Library.

For 17 years, the Petersburg Humane Association has taken in stray cats and dogs and found homes for them if possible. You might not see the strays on streets these days but Volunteer Coordinator, Marilee Jones, says they were a problem in the past.

“We used to have dog packs roaming around downtown,” Jones says. “You had to watch where you walked. And those are gone. You used to see kids downtown with boxes of kittens or puppies trying to get rid of them. I haven’t seen any of those for quite a while. So, the scholarship program, I think, is really working.”

The scholarship program helps pay for neutering and spaying cats and dogs for residents who can’t afford it.

The Humane Association is run by volunteers. Eighty percent of its budget goes to services for the dogs and cats. The other part of the budget goes to insurance. Funds come through memberships, fundraising, and donations.

Now, the animal shelter is about to close. Well, actually Jones is moving out of her house and that’s where the cat shelter has been for years.

“I’ll take some of them with me when I move. The ones that have been there all their lives,” Jones says. “I’m just moving next door so they’ll just be kind of indoor-outdoor cats. But right now we’re trying to build, get money to build a shelter up at the dog park.”

The Humane Association has raised $40,000 to fund the new shelter but they still need more money. They have a building already but they are seeking $25,000 for foundation work. To help the organization reach that goal, the local library has started a fundraising campaign called, “Words for Whiskers”.

Librarian Jessica Ieremia says it’s about writing reviews. You read a book, watch a movie, or listen to music and then write a review about it.

“Essentially you’ll be earning dollars for the reviews that you give,” Ieremia says.

Each review is worth one dollar paid for by the Friends of the Library. Their goal is 500 reviews. It’s an all ages program. You can enroll as an individual or as a group.

Ieremia: “A group could be a family, it could be a classroom, it could be a workplace, and we really encourage people just to have a lot of fun.”

Denning: “And what kind of reviews are we talking about? Are they short or is there a form to fill out or is it just, you can write as much as you want?

Ieremia: “You can write as much as you want. It’s nice to be able to write a review where a person who’s reading it can get enough information to decide if they would like to read that book or watch the movie. But you know, this is an all ages program so we accept anything. So even if you have a baby and you’re reading a book to your child and you can just write down, describe why your child likes the book even though they can’t say it to you or write. You can just write down words like they liked the CD, they were dancing, and chattering around the room and that’s great.”

The reviews can be about any story, music, or movie and it doesn’t have to be from the library.

The new Humane Association building is in town but can’t be finished until the foundation is created. Jones says the new shelter is the size of a shipping container.

“It’s finished inside,” Jones says. “It has a small bathroom so there’s water. It can be plumbed and wired directly and we’ll build cages inside so that they can be separated or together however they want to be and have an area for food and supplies and stuff and then they’ll have the outside cages around.”

The deadline for writing reviews for the “Words for Whiskers” program is March 16th.

The person or group that gives the most reviews gets the honor of donating the raised funds to the Petersburg Humane Association.

You can enroll in the Words for Whiskers review program on the library’s web page.