Pictured: Gadsden resident Andi Chupp interacts with kittens at Rainbow City Animal Shelter after delivering her birthday gift on May 24. (Courtesy of Teri Chupp)
By Emma Kirkemier, Editor-in-Chief
An 8-year-old student from St. James Catholic School in Gadsden recently gave Rainbow City Animal Shelter a special gift.
Andi Chupp turned 8 on July 27. She threw a party for her classmates towards the end of the 2022 school year, but instead of birthday gifts, she asked her guests to bring $8 each, in honor of her eighth birthday. .
Andi donated the money she raised, donating it to a local shelter. Her mother, Teri Chupp, said she received a few “generous” contributions in addition to the multiple $8 contributions.
In total, Andi donated $250 to Rainbow City Animal Shelter.
She and her mother handed over the money on May 24, and Andi decided to sponsor some kittens from the shelter.
“It’s so people don’t have to pay, and also so they can get food,” Andi said.
RBCAS Director Kristy Causey explained that giving $100 to sponsor a pet pays for all of their screening, including IVF testing, deworming, vaccinations and microchipping.
Where an adopter would typically have to pay a $100 adoption fee, sponsoring a pet waives that cost. A donor-sponsored animal could return home with the family or person whose adoption application was approved for them at no additional cost.
Causey encouraged interested community members to bring essential items like dog and cat food.
“But if they can’t donate another way, they can sponsor an animal,” she said. “It helps us get them out of here faster.”
Sponsors, she said, “help save a life.”
Causey said she loves having adopters and potential donors visit the shelter, but RBCAS is also accepting donations by phone or mail.
“We like them meeting the animals, interacting with the animals,” Causey said. “Sometimes there’s this animal that chooses you.”
If visitors have a pet that “chooses” them, they can complete an adoption application. The shelter then reviews the applications and matches the animal to its new home.
Causey said the shelter experiences “ups and downs” throughout the year, but the summers are particularly difficult due to the high number of animals they receive.
“Summer is really tough for us because it’s puppy and kitten season,” she said.
Causey estimated that the shelter currently has about 60 adoptable animals.
Andi and Teri Chupp have donated cat food to RCBAS on several occasions before, Teri said. St. James Catholic School hosts an animal drive once a year.
“(For her birthday), we didn’t need any more toys, so we pitched the idea,” Teri said. “Andi has to choose where we donated.”
Passionate about animals, Andi decided to donate the money she raised to the shelter, especially to her kittens. Andi said she wanted to be a veterinarian when she grew up, working with all animals big and small – just “definitely not snakes”.
Her interaction with the shelter cats was one of Andi’s favorite experiences.
“(Through) the glass where you could see them, one of the cats followed my finger,” she said.
Andi said cats are her favorite animals, followed closely by horses, and she takes riding lessons in addition to loving her pets at home.
The family has two cats at home named Daisy and Tommy.
“Andi has a heart for black cats,” Teri said.
Tommy is a black cat. Teri had a beloved black cat named Emma for 15 years. She said that while Daisy is more reserved, Tommy is affectionate towards Andi.
“Tommy is like a dog,” Teri said. “You call his name, and he’s right there.”
Andi said Daisy, although less affectionate, is “the sweetest cat [she has] never felt. Andi loves her two cats equally, but her mother said Andi claimed Tommy as her own.
“She says she’s Tommy’s mom,” Teri said.
When asked if she would consider doing something similar for her next birthday, Andi said yes, but at $9 for her ninth birthday.
Interested animal lovers can donate to Rainbow City Animal Shelter by calling (256) 413-1242 or visiting the shelter at 4450 Steele Station Road in Rainbow City. The shelter is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.