While many teenagers may focus on their school work or hanging out with friends, Sarah Jones is focused on cats. And she's specifically focused on the free-roaming cats around her community. You know, strays.
"When other girls were playing with dolls, Sarah was playing with toy animals," Sarah's mom, Beth, told Best Friends Animal Society. Beth helps Sarah by driving her and the strays that Sarah humanely traps to Best Friends spay and neuter clinic in South Ogden, Utah, just outside of Salt Lake City.
Once the cats have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and ear tipped, Sarah collects the felines and returns them exactly where she found them, a process called trap-neuter-return (TNR).
"We see Sarah as an inspiration," Tiffany Deaton, service manager at the clinic, said. "She's the perfect example how just one person can make a huge impact on the lives of animals."
Caring for cat communities
Sarah's drive to help cats started when she noticed a group of hungry cats in a field near her home. She trapped them on her own and took them to the Davis County shelter. When she arrived, she met members of the Best Friends community cat team. They explained to Sarah that the cats had already been ear tipped, which meant that they were spayed or neutered and living their lives as strays.
But since the cats were hungry, it appeared as if no one nearby was caring for them. The cat team guided Sarah on how to become the caretaker for that colony. After that, Sarah became, as she describes herself on her Facebook profile, "a voice for a voiceless" followed by a cat emoji and a dog emoji. Sarah joined a number of animal shelter Facebook pages and put herself forward as a TNR volunteer.
Even more dedication
That's not all Sarah does for homeless cats, however. Since her first encounter with community cats, Sarah has become involved in multiple rescue efforts, aiding sick or injured cats or assisting with fundraising efforts so cats can get the care that they need. She's also taken up the care for a second cat community.
Sarah has started building shelters for feral cats to help them stay warm in during the winter, and she launched her own TNR organization in January. Provided you're in the Davis or Weber county areas of Utah, Sarah (and presumably Beth) will come to your home and provide you with shelters, humanely TNR cats or take in kittens that "you just don't know what to do with."
Even with all that, this is all probably just a beginning for Sarah; she's learning how to start her own nonprofit, after all. She would love to see other people get involved in helping the animals of their communities.
"Anyone can help at a rescue organization," she told Best Friends. "You're never too young to make a difference."