About six months ago, Terry Lauerman, a retired teacher, walked into Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and asked if he could volunteer. He just wanted to brush cats.
The sanctuary is a rescue for cats with disabilities and special needs that likely would be at risk for euthanasia elsewhere. The kitties are rehabilitated in the cage-free sanctuary and then made available for adoption.
Lauerman started coming every day, brush in hand, learning the personality quirks of every feline resident. Brushing and petting all those kitties sometimes can be exhausting, so on most days, the dedicated retiree settles into one of the sanctuary's couches for a little cat nap. Naturally, a cat or two always joins him.
So infatuated with Lauerman and his cat-napping, the shelter posted a few pictures of him snoozing with his feline friends. The Facebook post said:
We are so lucky to have a human like Terry. Terry just came along one day and introduced himself. He said he'd like to brush cats. Eventually it became everyday. He brushes all of the cats, and can tell you about all of their likes and dislikes. He also accidentally falls asleep most days. We don't mind — Cats need this! Terry is a wonderful volunteer.
The post took off as people fell in love with the dedicated, nap-loving volunteer. The photos were viewed and shared tens of thousands of times, which flabbergasted Lauerman when he found out.
An update from the shelter said:
"He was SHOCKED! I tried to explain to him that he's famous now. 😂 (I'm still shocked too) He said, 'Now if all of those people would just donate $5 to help the kitties, that would make such a big difference!" He also said we should all pray for him to win the lottery so he can donate it to his cat friends. Oh, Terry. I want to come up with a trophy or award I can present to him at the Furry Tail Ball if any of you have a good idea! I'm thinking something with "Honorary Cat Grandpa". If you'd like to donate in honor of Terry's request here is the link: https://www.safehavenpet.org/donate/ I would LOVE to be able to tell him that he helped raise money for the kitties next time he comes in. 😻"
Those newfound fans followed through, donating $5 here and $20 there. Just three days after the Facebook post went up and the world was introduced to Terry Lauerman, the sanctuary had received more than $20,000 in his name, with donations still coming in for all his kitty friends.
Shelter founder Elizabeth Feldhausen tells MNN that Lauerman can't believe what has happened.
"Terry is very grateful, and very surprised that this all came out from accidentally falling asleep!"
Watch this Facebook Live video as Lauerman talks about his newfound fame and thanks everyone for donations: