By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
DEARBORN – Cat condos created by Eagle Scout candidate Zachary Haas may encourage cats at the Dearborn Animal Shelter to come out of hiding and socialize, increasing their chances of adoption.
Haas, 17, of Lincoln Park, a member of Allen Park Boy Scout Troop 1051, built six cat condos — climbing structures designed to encourage cats to play, exercise and relax — with perches tall enough to let cats survey their environment. The structures increase the likelihood that cats will be out in the open when potential adopters visit the shelter.
Haas’ mother, Victoria Haas, said his father, who died two years ago of a heart attack, loved animals, and Zachary wanted his project to reflect that passion.
Shelter Manager Heather Mehi mentioned the need for cat condos to Zachary Haas because trailers currently housing cats provide room for them to move about, but lack furniture-like structures that are easy to sanitize with spray cleaners.
Two cat trailers will be outfitted with three cat condos each.
Haas raised money for the cat condos with a chips and salsa sale and a returnable can and bottle drive to purchase PVC pipes, fittings and screws.
Signature Awning, 12283 Merriman Road in Livonia, donated vinyl for the structures’ hammock-like shelves.
Lowe’s, 16300 Fort St., Southgate, offered a 10 percent discount on the PVC piping.
Scouts and adult volunteers assembled the cat condos June 8, and on June 9 four of the six units were delivered to the shelter, while the other two were in the Haas’ garage awaiting the purchase of more screws.
Assistant Scoutmaster Andrew Johnson of Allen Park said the project was well-planned.
“Knowing where (Haas) came from, what he’s been up against, he’s doing a really good job,” Johnson said.
As the Scouts carried the cat condos into the trailers June 9, Mehi said she likes seeing the shelter animals happy.
“Any time we can do something to enrich their stay here, it warms my heart,” she said, “For him to pick a shelter and to put this kind of time and effort into making something that is going to make their stay here better, it makes me happy.”
Mehi said if the cats don’t have structures to climb, they tend to hide, and when people come to adopt, they stay in the lower areas.
“When cats can move around and climb and look out windows, it stimulates them and it builds their confidence and so they will tend to be up here more,” Mehi said. “People will come in and people will approach them more, and it helps build a better attraction between the people and the animals.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)