Live Oak —
Local flea market guru and business owner Barney Everett has had a lot of challenges in the last few months. He and other Live Oak land and business owners have dealt with flood damage from TS Debby and the sinkholes that forced them to move out and condemn the remaining structures. Among his passion of antiques and unusual pieces he’ll often acquire at various flea markets, he is on a mission to saving stray cats. There is an ever-growing problem of strays not being cared for locally and Everett and a few others have stepped up to tackle the issue.
Everett, who owns two acres on Helvenston Street and the proprietor of Big Wheel Market Place, takes care of local cats through his Save the Cats initiative.
“We take care of them two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon,” said Everett. He and his volunteers also dispose of cat waste regularly.
“In our kitty condo, we’ve got about 45 cats,” said Everett. “One of our other guys has about 45 or 50. We feed at the dump sites, Wendy’s, Best Western, the Econo Lodge.”
Everett and the handful of volunteers have been working toward providing food, shelter, medical attention (including spaying and neutering) and all that is required to taking care of the cats with an out-of-pocket expense.
Everett spoke of another woman in O’Brien who is currently on government assistance, takes care of her mentally handicapped son and there are between 150 and 200 cats there and Everett and his volunteers go down twice a week with 50 pound bags of food to feed them.
As if taking on this huge and difficult task isn’t enough, there is a pre-existing city ordinance that doesn’t allow for an individual to house as many cats as Everett had on his property. Everett was given a warning recently that he had two weeks to get rid of the cats.
“I couldn’t really argue with them,” said Everett. “All I was asking for was some extra time.”
Everett was thankful that Live Oak Police Chief Buddy Williams did grant him an extra week to make arrangements to move the cats out of the city to honor the city ordinance.
Fortunately, Everett said there’s a woman out in the county who has a large enough place to house the cats. There is still the issue of money and adoption for these cats.
Everett said the Save the Cats organization is a non-profit and are also connected to a similar group in Pensacola. Everett said that last year, a woman wrote a grant and was awarded $25,000 strictly for spaying and neutering. Everett is pushing that his Live Oak group try to acquire a grant as well.
“Can you imagine what we can do with $25,000,” asked Everett. “If we neuter 1,000 cats in two years or less, you won’t see the cats. There won’t be any kittens running around. I think that should give us some leverage.”
Everett said that it will make a huge impact on not only the city, but the county as well as he gets contacted to go all over the place at times.
Everett’s main focus is that he’s asking for some financial help to take care of the cat population and keep it to a manageable level and to find good, safe homes for the cats they have now. After a cat is adopted, he would hope that new owners could help in defraying some of the cost toward spaying, neutering, feeding and sheltering the cats.
Be on the look out for buckets and jars in various businesses throughout town where individuals can make donations. If you would like to help save the cats, you can visit Barney Everett at his store, Big Wheel Market Place, at 217 West Howard St. You can also call him at 386-364-1006. For more information, log on to www.savethecatsofliveoak.org