Donna and Bob Reese have spent years helping the Oktibbeha County Humane Society through volunteer service. Donna has volunteered as the treasurer for more than a decade and Bob rescues cats in a service that has raised about $4,000 for the humane society. Photo by: Alex Holloway/Dispatch Staff
June 17, 2019 9:53:56 AM
Bob and Donna Reese have found their own ways to help out the Oktibbeha County Humane Society.
The Reeses, both retired from Mississippi State University, have worked in different ways -- direct and indirect -- to support the nonprofit.
Donna started volunteering as OCHS' treasurer in 2005, after former treasurer Mildred Sellars stepped down from the position. She joined the OCHS board two or three years later and has served ever since.
"It's not just taking the donations and adoption fees and that sort of thing," Donna said. "It's actually paying the people and paying bills at the shelter (for) the food, supplies, transport, gas, the van maintenance, insurance, doing the annual tax documents, filing payroll taxes. It is really like running a small business."
Donna's worked in computer science, not finances, as a career field. Though she worked as the treasurer for Starkville Academy's booster club before she took on the same position for the humane society, she said the work has been a learning experience through the years on proper accounting practices.
Where other potential successors to Sellars petered out after a month or so, Donna has stuck with her work as treasurer for nearly 15 years.
"It's something that I can do that I feel like I'm giving back," she said. "I don't necessarily do too well with going in and seeing all the animals and not wanting to bring them all home, which my husband is going to laugh at because I have four that I brought home who are in the bathroom because they need to be fostered until they're a little bigger."
Bob runs a service to rescue cats who are stuck in trees, which started when one of the Reeses' cats got stuck in 2013.
"I called a couple of local tree services and they were busy," he said. "I started looking on the internet and found out about people who did this. That night, our cat climbed down and came home, but I had the bug. So I ordered some gear, made some mistakes, ordered some more gear and watched a lot of Youtube videos."
Bob did his first rescue in May 2013. Since then, he's rescued more than 200 cats across the state, as far south as Hattiesburg and as far north as the Memphis area.
His rescue gear includes a guide rope that he shoots into a tree with a slingshot. Once the guide rope is in place, he uses it to lift the climbing rope into place and tethers one end of it to the tree. He climbs the tree using a harness that has plenty of hooks to hold all of the equipment he might need while in the air because, as he explained during a demonstration, "you don't want to come back down to get something once you're up there."
Once up among the branches, Bob can grab cats by hand with a long-sleeved glove that folds off into a bag to safely bring them to the ground. For aggressive cats, he has a pole he can use to safely bring them down.
There aren't many people in the state who do the work Bob does. He said he's the only person listed on an official online cat rescue directory, though there are others in the state who do the work, and he'll sometimes coordinate with them for distant rescues.
For all the success his work has seen, Bob doesn't ask for any money. He tells people who feel the need to offer some sort of payment to make a donation to OCHS. His rescues have raised about $4,000 for the humane society so far.
Bob said that's rewarding, as is the work itself.
"You rescue the cats for the person. People love their animals and they're in a position where they can't help their pet, so you're helping the person," he said. "You get out and meet new people. I've been to places in Mississippi that I never would have been before."
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
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