Barbara Bretton


Open Your Heart

Every now and then you come across someone who not only believes in the causes you believe in, but who has the guts and the heart to actually get out there and do something about them. The women who run Open Your Heart, a cat rescue/adoption group, in Hillsborough, New Jersey are a perfect example. They don't just talk about helping animals in need: they volunteer their time, their money, and their homes in order to make a difference.

Shelley Wester is the president of Open Your Heart and she, along with her wonderful group of volunteers, fosters homeless cats and kittens until good, loving, permanent homes can be found for them.

It was my good fortune to discover Open Your Heart four years ago, right after my parents' beloved cat Bonnie died. My parents were distraught. They weren't sure they wanted to adopt another cat but fate (and a determined daughter) had other ideas. Open Your Heart was holding an adoption day at one of our local pet shops. It was a Sunday afternoon, fifteen minutes from closing time. I can't explain to you what came over me as I drove by the store but some unseen force (maybe a paw?) reached out and pulled me into the parking lot, out of the car, and into the pet shop.

And that's where Sammi cast her spell over me.

Sammi was my parents' dear companion for four years until their deaths this year. Right now Sammi is living with us but I'm afraid things aren't working out too well. Our three rowdy (and occasionally aggressive) parrots aren't willing to share their space with a furry interloper and since one of the parrots has thirty years seniority, who can argue with him?

We've begun the process of finding the perfect home for her, with a family who will love her the way she deserves to be loved, and I am so deeply grateful to Shelley and Kathy and the other women of Open Your Heart for all they're doing to help Sammi find her new family.

I hope you'll take a moment to click on their website at and read a bit about them, maybe even take a look at the beautiful cats and kittens who are in need of a home of their own in central New Jersey. I'll be posting articles from their newsletter at -- I hope you'll make it a regular stop when you come to visit.

Open Your Heart can be reached at:


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