Caring for pets

Cynthia Gerrie

Photo By dane stivers

Bay Area native Cynthia Gerrie came to Chico 30 years ago to pursue a job as a field executive/ program director for the Sierra Cascade Girl Scout Council. She’d just graduated from Southern Oregon University with a degree in education and art. Gerrie, who has been rescuing animals all her life, quickly became attached to the Chico animal community. In 2005, she became one of five founding members of a grassroots group called Paws of Chico Spay and Neuter Program, which provides affordable spaying and neutering procedures for dogs and cats whose owners need help with those costs. Gerrie is now the board president and director of Paws. Throughout April and May, the organization is concentrating on controlling Chico’s population of large dogs by offering financial assistance for the altering of dogs 40 pounds or larger. Spays will cost $50, and neuters will cost $40. For more info, visit or call 895-2109.

What is your role with Paws?

I do a little bit of everything. Paws is managed by me with the support of a committed group of volunteers. We would ultimately like to end the overpopulation of cats and dogs in Chico. One of the ways to achieve this is through a solid [spay/neuter] voucher program, which we offer. I’ve always had animals come to me, since I was a kid. I’ve had boxes of kittens dropped off at my doorstep, things like that. It’s like they know I can help them. I want to help make Chico a better place for the animals.

How has Paws been received in Chico?

Well, we’ve increased the number of cats and dogs we’ve helped each year since 2005. In 2010, we assisted with the [spay/neuter] of 876 cats and dogs. I think people recognize that the animal population needs to be controlled, so our purpose here is to have a place where people of all income levels can get their pets taken care of. I love my pets; I’ve got three cats. Two were rescued from Bidwell Park, and a third one was wild; she just came into my back yard one day. She’s been here ever since. So I know how important pets are to their owners.

What’s one outrageous incident you’ve experienced?

Ah, well I’ve got a number of good ones. There was one time when a guy came with his cat to get it neutered, and it was just so funny the way he brought the cat. You see, we like pets to be brought in kennels when they’re here to get neutered and spayed—we even provide kennels. But this one time, this guy came on his bike with a backpack strapped behind him, and out of the top of the backpack, he cut a little hole in it and you could see the cat’s little head poking out and looking around as the guy rode up. He cut the hole so the cat could breathe on his ride over. It was the cutest thing.