Karma Cat + Zen Dog Rescue Society
by Krystal Hasard Executive Director
Imagine a sanctuary where every cat finds compassion, cozy blankets, a sunlit perch, and a second chance for a forever home. This vision comes to life at Karma Cat + Zen Dog Rescue Society (KCZD), a haven founded on the principles of compassion, care, and community. We are dedicated to providing a safe haven for cats in need and preventing unnecessary euthanasia in our local shelters. Our dream? A world where every companion animal is respected, fed, warm, happy, and not in danger of being killed because it is temporarily homeless.
KCZD’s mission started in 2010, when sisters Christie and Michelle Arlotta, with motivation from a stray cat named Karma and her kittens, decided to pursue their dream of creating an organization dedicated to giving homeless, abandoned, and abused animals a safe haven and second chance. From humble beginnings in a basement, KCZD has grown over the years into a bustling community of over 180 volunteer animal lovers, and a standalone cat adoption center in Milltown, NJ. We recently celebrated the milestone of our 2300th cat, Snowball, a dignified diabetic senior. Furthermore, our trap-neuter-return program has successfully vaccinated and spayed/neutered over 1500 community cats, exemplifying our unwavering commitment to mitigating local feline overpopulation and unnecessary euthanasia.
Our cat adoption center stands as a beacon of hope and sanctuary for felines in need. With its sunlit cat climbing wall, bar-free enclosures, and ample opportunities for free-roaming, the facility is more than just a shelter—it's a home where cats can thrive while they await their forever families. Volunteers, the backbone of our organization, ensure the center is not only maintained but also festively decorated for seasons and events, creating a cheerful and welcoming environment for both the cats and potential adopters. The impact of our efforts is best encapsulated by the words of a recent adopter, Eugene G.: “Karma Cat + Zen Dog is an amazing rescue organization. They have a super clean facility and the warmest, most caring, and helpful staff. We adopted our latest rescue from them and the process was very simple and easy, and we got the most loving little kitten who has been an amazing addition to our family. We are truly very lucky, and we greatly appreciate Karma Cat + Zen Dog for bringing more joy and love into our lives.” Eugene's experience is a testament to our dedication to not only the cats in our care but also to ensuring that adopters like him find their perfect feline match, creating lifelong bonds that enrich the lives of both pet and owner.
Our bond with our community is one of the keys to our success; we are honored to serve the people and pets of Middlesex County. Our local challenge is stark: cat overpopulation. Unlike dogs, who are often transported to local rescues and shelters from out-of-state, a staggering number of adoptable cats face the grim reality of shelter euthanasia. This disparity has sharpened our focus and fortified our commitment to working synergistically with local shelter partners. Together, we address the most pressing needs: facilitating cat adoptions, implementing effective trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs, and launching comprehensive educational initiatives.
Central to our mission, our adoption program operates around two core values: providing exceptional quality care to our animals and maintaining transparency throughout the adoption process. Our foster homes become sanctuaries where animals receive not only the essentials—food, litter, and medical attention—but also a safe space where they are cherished and nurtured. Our robust network of volunteers, spanning foster, medical, and socialization teams, stands ready around the clock, providing support and guidance to foster parents at every step. We don’t merely facilitate adoptions; we create lasting bonds by ensuring every animal is seen, cared for, and placed in a home where they will be eternally loved.
In addition to the healthy and readily adoptable, we consistently turn our attention to those often overlooked; seniors, FIV+ cats, and those with behavioral or medical issues. Our focus is on those who need us most, and supporting our local shelters. By transferring these often-overlooked cats from their facilities we create much-needed space and simultaneously minimize the the need for unnecessary euthanasia. Take, for example, the heartwarming story of Anisette. Surrendered to a local municipal shelter, she struggled with stress-related overeating while confined to a cage, which led to obesity and flagged her as a potential diabetic. Facing euthanasia, Anisette was brought into our care, where she immediately received a thorough blood work-up, a medicated bath, and a shave to rid her of matted fur. Placed on a specialized weight-loss and exercise program, and benefiting from a socialization plan, Anisette underwent a remarkable transformation during her 633 days under our care. Ultimately, she found a forever home where she is cherished every single day.
Navigating the challenges of shy or undersocialized cats, we staunchly advocate for the transformative power of positive, engaging experiences. Our feline residents bask in 6 to 10 hours daily of enriching interactions, including playful activities, gentle petting, and meticulous grooming, facilitated by our devoted volunteers. We prioritize targeted socializing time and create detailed plans to ensure they flourish and enhance their adoptability. Moreover, our cats receive thorough medical care, including spaying/neutering, flea treatment, deworming, microchipping, and vaccinations for FIV/FeLV, along with any necessary medical procedures, from dental surgeries to amputations. This comprehensive approach ensures that they step into their new lives in optimal health, ready to bring joy to their forever homes.
Our commitment to providing high-quality care has not gone unnoticed, establishing us as the gold standard for rescue operations in our region. It fills us with pride to have not only uplifted the lives of countless animals but also to have served as a beacon of knowledge and expertise for other rescue groups aspiring to elevate their practices, and we have seen the quality of animal rescue in our area improve as a result. It is an honor to share our expertise with others and make a positive impact on the lives of animals in need.
Our Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program addresses the challenge posed by the overpopulation of feral cats in our community. A small group of our volunteers TNR approximately 200 cats each year, preventing the birth of thousands of feral kittens and presenting a humane alternative to shelter euthanasia for our feral friends. Our TNR team, rooted in compassion, ensures feral cat populations are managed with care and respect. We work side-by-side with community members upon request, and offer a quarterly “Snip + Tip” event, where we invite local rescuers to bring feral cats to our local TNR clinic for complimentary spaying/neutering and vaccinations, fortifying our collective effort to humanely control the feral cat population.
Our outreach program focuses on providing education to the public on proper animal care and humane practices. We've noticed that children's groups are particularly interested in our work and frequently participate in our program. These young visitors are not only delighted to interact with our cats at the adoption center but also absorb vital knowledge about the needs and behaviors of these animals. We strongly believe that by teaching children these values, we can help create a more compassionate and responsible society.
Intake diversion, a pivotal component of our outreach program, is designed to offer support and resources to the public, mitigating the necessity of animal surrender. We offer an extensive array of resources, encompassing behavioral and environmental advice, along with pet emergency planning guides The most recent addition to our program provides financial resources to local pet owners. Although still in its infancy, this initiative has already facilitated assistance for six cats, addressing various medical and behavior issues and enabling them to remain with their families instead of facing shelter surrender. By extending support and resources to pet owners, we aim to prevent pet abandonment and diminish the influx of animals into shelters. We are committed to ensure that every pet owner can provide a loving and safe environment for their pets, regardless of their financial situation.
Our efforts are made possible by individual donations, generous grants, and event fundraising efforts which allow us to provide the best possible outcomes for the cats in our care. Operating as a volunteer-driven 501c3 non-profit, we are not beneficiaries of government funding, thereby placing a premium on our approach to financial stewardship: strategic spending and transparency. We ensure every donation, grant, and fundraising effort is channeled effectively to support our mission and to maximize impact. Every dollar is a step closer to our dream.
In addition to orchestrating large-scale fundraising events such as our annual Paws for Celebration gala, we also immerse ourselves in community gatherings, such as craft fairs, to both raise funds and elevate awareness about our cause. Our merchandise initiative, which began with a volunteer crafting simple knit catnip toys for our resident rescues, has blossomed over the years into a dedicated team of volunteers, affectionately known as the “Crazy Crafters.” Over the past five years, their tireless efforts have not only generated over $10,000 annually but also introduced our organization to new segments of the community. Donations of crafting materials, including fabric and yarn, are always warmly welcomed and put to creative use, furthering our mission and enhancing our community engagement.
Our journey is far from over. As we look to the future, we envision expanding our reach, touching more lives, and continuing our unwavering commitment to animal welfare. The Karma Cat + Zen Dog Rescue Society stands as a testament to the profound impact that compassion, dedication, and community can have in forging a world that is kinder and more empathetic towards all its inhabitants. But we can't do it alone. Whether it's through adoption, donation, or volunteering, your support can make a world of difference.
Our mission, while impactful, is far from over. To date, the issue of cat overpopulation in our area has not been solved, but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop trying. As we look towards the future, we aspire to broaden our impact, touch more lives, and perpetuate our steadfast commitment to animal welfare. The Karma Cat + Zen Dog Rescue Society is not merely an organization; it's a living testament to the transformative power of compassion, dedication, and community in crafting a world that extends kindness and empathy to all its beings. However, this journey is not one we can traverse alone. Your support, whether through adoption, donation, or volunteering, doesn’t just assist us— it becomes an integral thread in the vibrant tapestry of our ongoing story, making a tangible difference in a world that our furry friends can thrive in.
Discover the heart of animal rescue at Karma Cat + Zen Dog Rescue Society, 39 S Main Street, Milltown, New Jersey. Connect with us via email at email@example.com or visit the kitties at our adoption center on Wednesdays and Fridays from 5 – 7 PM, or Saturdays and Sundays from 12 – 4 PM. Embark on the journey to a more compassionate world with us by becoming a pivotal part of our rescue family—whether through donations, volunteering, adopting, or simply by amplifying our mission on social media @karmacatzendog. Explore further and find applications on our website: https://www.karmacatzendog.org.