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New wheels for Frankie's Friends

| Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, 12:17 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Dr. Becky Morrow of Frankie's Friends Cat Rescue talks about a new pick-up truck she was able to buy with a $26,000 grant from the Petco Foundation. The truck will be used to tow the mobile surgery trailer. Photographed at the foundation's lot along Allegheny Sreet in Tarentum on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch

Dr. Becky Morrow is getting better at driving a pickup-trailer combination.

Morrow, president and medical director of Frankie's Friends Cat Rescue, has been learning since the non-profit organization put its mobile surgery unit — an 18-by-8 foot box trailer — on the road in July 2011.

Now, thanks to a $26,000 grant from the Petco Foundation, she has a 2012 Ford F-150 to get around with.

“It's great,” she said. “It was our first grant we tried for.”

Frankie's Friends was formed as a result of the 2008 raid on the defunct Tiger Ranch cat sanctuary in Frazer, and named for one of the feline survivors that has since died.

It is dedicated to caring for the unadoptable Tiger Ranch survivors and providing no- or low-cost veterinary care to other animals in need.

The mobile surgery unit — formerly a motorcycle trailer — features an image of one of the other Tiger Ranch survivors.

More than 2,000 procedures have been carried out in the unit so far, mostly spays and neuters, Morrow said.

Other procedures performed include dental surgeries, tumor removals, tail and leg amputations and eye removals, all done to alleviate pain and suffering.

It is also used for examinations, vaccinations and treatment of homeless animals and animals from low-income families and other rescue organizations.

“We've done a good job with the short period of time we've been out there,” Morrow said.

Frankie's Friends had been using an 18-year-old pickup to move the surgery unit around. That truck was destroyed when it caught fire in July.

Since then, Frankie's Friends has rented trucks to transport the trailer. The cost cut into revenue.

Morrow said she applied for the grant out of desperation.

“Something like this would've been a long time coming,” she said.

Word that they had gotten the grant came in October; they got the truck about two weeks ago. Two days after getting it, they took the unit to Pittsburgh's South Side Slopes, where they spayed, neutered and vaccinated more than 60 feral cats.

Revenue from paid procedures performed in the mobile surgery unit go to support the organization's sanctuary, a house in Harrison.

Its recent population was 62 cats — including 47 surviving from Tiger Ranch.

Morrow said the grant has reinvigorated the organization.

“I was just so amazed,” she said. “All of our work that we've been doing is kind of under the radar. This is just a way of, I guess, rewarding what we're doing in helping us to continue helping the animals in our community.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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