Volunteer Spotlight: Carla Castro

Carla Castro currently volunteers with our TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) program, in addition to being a vital part of our foster team. She first got involved at DAWS while participating in our Walk for Animals event back in 2009 and kept coming back each year. Then, in 2021, Carla began volunteering with TNR while trying to stabilize her own feral colony of about 10 cats. During the pandemic, she started feeding a couple of feral cats around her home and before she knew it, kittens appeared! “I did my research about TNR and the full circle of stabilizing feral cat communities. After speaking with the TNR Coordinator, Lauren Mucci, I learned the whole process of TNR in our Greater Danbury area. Since then, I’ve been helping to trap local ferals, kittens, and friendly cats. I’ve also helped foster some of the ones I’ve trapped and luckily for me, all of them were adopted,” shares Carla.

For Carla, the best part of volunteering is being able to see some of the “feral” cats she has trapped become sociable, get adopted, and then thrive in their new homes. Carla explains, “It warms my heart to see the transformations some of these cats go through after putting in so much hard work and unconditional care and love for them.” Her recent foster cat was a special one. He had been abandoned near Carla’s home and started showing up whenever she was feeding her ferals. At first, she thought he was another cat looking for food, but soon noticed that he seemed lost and scared. “I did everything to gain his trust, it took me about a month before I was able to finally pet him. Then, a week later, I didn’t even have to trap him, I just picked him up and brought him inside my home. After some vet care, he was perfect, and within two weeks he was adopted. He was the first cat I actually happy cried for since he had gone through so much and was now going to now live the life he deserved.”

Last year was a difficult one for Carla, not only due to the pandemic, but because she had to put down Romeo, her 15-year-old chihuahua. He was her first pet and had been with her through everything, even traveling to Ecuador with her. “Becoming a TNR volunteer and foster helped get me out of that depressive state of losing Romeo. Seeing the cute faces of the various kittens and cats rotating throughout my home while fostering, certainly helped brighten each day,” says Carla.” Michelle Messemer, DAWS’ Foster Coordinator, states, “Carla has been an invaluable addition to our TNR and foster programs! Regardless of weather conditions, the time of day (or night), or her long work day, Carla is always smiling and putting the welfare of the animals first. Without Carla, DAWS would not be able to help our community with the needs of feral cats and their babies.”

A Danbury native, and as much as she adores cats, Carla also has a dog that she rescued, a cute three-year-old yorkie poo named Jude. He has been a great dad to all her former foster kittens. Carla has also “foster failed” three sibling kittens, Elizabeth, Churchill, and Harry, from one of the feral cats she trapped near her home. She also has a six-year-old cat named Bay. In her free time, Carla also enjoys helping humans as she works as a full-time clinical research coordinator at Yale. Her hobbies include binge watching tv shows/documentaries, reading, and stress baking.