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Friends Soar for Animals in Potomac

Love for animals a common bond for 33-year-old nonprofit's volunteers.

Tom Blair’s Piper Cub, suspended in stationary flight over his son’s billiard table, provided a perfect backdrop to propel conversation and put wings on fundraising efforts for Friends Of Montgomery County Animals (FMCA).

FMCA’s annual luncheon meeting with silent auction was held June 13 at Kerry and Andrew Blair’s home in Round Hill. Blair said her hope is to help “raise awareness and funds for the organization.”

FMCA, founded in 1974, is a humane, non-profit organization supported solely by volunteers. Spending in 2007 exceeded funding due to veterinary bills for ill or injured animals and requests from other humane groups for monetary assistance. Underwriting by generous donors has helped fill the gap. Still, more is needed to support the group’s mission.

“Friends is committed to solving animal over-population and alleviating hopelessness by maintaining an aggressive spay, neuter, return/place program,” said Board President Claire Proffitt. “If anyone wants to see these efforts increase, Friends is happy to take your check.”

The love of animals was the recurring theme spoken by luncheon attendees. Longtime member Emily Werner said she and others “tend to gravitate toward people who have a passion for animals.”

Kathy Shonely and Leigh Hughes have each spent nearly two decades providing foster care and finding adoptive homes for cats for FMCA.

“I began with one foster at a time, then I was in it for the long haul,” Shonely said.

Hughes came on board 17 years ago when her boss needed a foster home for a pregnant cat. “It’s tough when it’s time to give up a foster to its adoptive home but, you know you’re creating a space for a new foster and helping someone else,” she said.

Both worked with other agencies on a major cat-hoarding case in Frederick and have received awards from the Metropolitan Council of Governments and Montgomery County Humane Society for their commitment, dedication and compassion shown by saving the lives of so many homeless animals through FMCA.

“It’s great that agencies are working together. One group can’t do it all. We’re in it for the same reasons,” Hughes said.

Shonely added, “Animal cruelty cases are tough, but somebody’s got to intervene or animals get harmed.”

Member Polly Berteling is thrilled with her two rescue cats, Samson and Delilah. “They’re the millionaire cats now. Good home, good food, good medical care, what can be better than that?” she said.

FMCA’s Fix-It Fund provides monies to help low and fixed income families spay and neuter their pets and help with T-N-R (trap-neuter-release) of feral cat colonies. FMCA’s primary focus is cats and dogs, however horses benefit from Friends as well. Proffitt reported that Friends donated more than $3,000 to Days End Horse Farm Rescue to support horse rescue efforts in animal cruelty and owner-abandonment situations.

Friends was established to help animals affected by natural or man-made disasters anywhere and at any time. Emily Werner shared her thoughts about helping animals — “It’s their world too.”