VALLEY DISPTACH/HEIDI SMITH
Keri Demers wants to find a home for every stray in her care, including orphan kittens Midnight and Fluffy.
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DRACUT — Loving and caring for animals is what Dracut resident Keri Demers does best. Her life’s work revolves around the well-being of animals, whether it is her own three cats and dog, or the hundreds she has helped to place into homes over the last nine years through her Dracut-based animal rescue, Pets In Need.

Demers, 31, who works full time as a receptionist at Wignall Hospital in Dracut, came up with the idea of starting her own business when she realized there was a problem with overpopulation of stray animals at the Humane Society.

“The animal rescue creates another avenue for animals to be adopted before going to the Humane Society,” said Demers, who runs Pets In Need by phone and e-mail. “It helps to relieve some of the burden from the shelters and gives the animals a better chance of finding a loving home.”

Wignall Animal Hospital can only hold onto surrendered animals for 10 days before passing them on to Demers, one of her foster families or the Humane Society.

Demers and her team of eight volunteers find homes for about 80 animals a year. Pets in Need currently has several dogs, cats and kittens available for adoption, including a 5-year-old miniature Doberman pincher named Bug, who just moved into one of the foster homes on Oct., 27.

There is also Camelia, an 18-year-old tabby cat whose elderly owner recently passed away. She has kidney failure and requires IV fluids three times a week, so she needs an owner with a lot of love and patience.

“She’s a lovable little couch potato, loves to be pet, but she doesn’t do so well with other cats,” said Demers.

There is a minimal fee of $125 to adopt one of the cats or kittens at Pets in Need. The fee includes a spay or neuter, any required medical procedures and updated booster shots.

To adopt a dog, the fee is from $165 to $200, depending on the breed of dog and any extensive care, and includes vaccines, heartworm test and a spay or neuter.

“We prefer the cats to be indoor and we also educate potential adoptive families about declawing, but we really just want them to go to good homes,” said Demers. “That’s the most important thing.”

Demers said she is always looking for volunteers to help organize adoption events or to be a foster parent for some of the animals. Most foster homes will house one or two cats or one dog. According to Demers, all of the foster animals are checked for leukemia and updated vaccines before they are placed in a foster home.

“We never have enough foster homes to facilitate all of the animals,” said Demers. “Anyone interested can call or e-mail me.”

On Nov. 18, Pets in Need is sponsoring a pet adoption day at Fido and Fifi’s Pet Boutique,1794 Bridge St 13A., Dracut, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The rescue operation is in need of blankets, towels, craft items for fundraisers, x-pens, cleaning supplies and monetary donations. If you would like to make a donation, please mail it to: Wignall Animal Hospital, C/O Pets in Need, 1837 Bridge Street, Dracut MA 01826. Please do not contact Wignall Animal Hospital about Pets in Need.

For more information on volunteering or to adopt a pet, visit the Pets in Need Web site at http://petsinneed.978.org, call Keri Demers at 978-337-0773 or e-mail at petsinneed@animal-adoptions.org.

Have a story idea? Contact Heidi Smith at 978-970-4653 or e-mail at hsmith@thevalleydispatch.com.