A big mistake that landed an upset feline named Zeke behind bars has now become a children’s book that benefits the Glacial Lakes Humane Society.
More than two years ago, Deb Shephard went in to Glacial Lakes Humane Society looking to adopt a new family member. She came across a cat whose kennel was marked with a warning that he had done something terrible. Zeke had bitten a child.
Zeke’s original home had been at a daycare center, and he interacted with children every day. However, a new child at the daycare was curious about Zeke and had grabbed his tail, pulling hard enough that the cat bit the child on the arm.
An animal control officer was called to the scene, and Zeke was taken to the humane society, where he waited for his second chance.
“He had been there for many, many months. So, I took a chance on him and took him home,” said Shephard.
After bringing Zeke home, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, changing the traveling plans for Shephard and her husband, Scott. The couple normally would have hired a pet sitter while traveling, but the pandemic forced them to take Zeke along. This gave the feline a chance at adventure.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, we didn’t want anyone inside our home. So, we started taking Zeke in our camper with us,” said Shephard. “His big mistake of biting someone led to his best life.”
Zeke got to see many new places as his family traveled. He even learned to explore campsites on a leash. He was free to roam his backyard at home and learned to put his biting to more productive uses – catching mice!
When Shephard visited the humane society to adopt Zeke, there were 80 cats without homes looking for their furever families.
“That was way too many. The staff and the facility can’t handle that many cats,” said Shephard.
Dan Miller, the Bramble Park Zoo director, was on the humane society board. Shephard reached out to him, looking for a solution to the number of adoptable cats in the humane society.
“He agreed that there was a problem, so we brainstormed ideas,” said Shepard. “He asked me to be on the humane society board, and I’ve been on the board ever since.”
Once on the board, Shephard and the other members started heavily promoting the spaying and neutering of cats. With Watertown and the surrounding area having a more rural setting, barn cats are common. Without spaying and neutering, these feline populations quickly become too much to handle, and many of the animals end up in a humane society.
“We do not put a cat or dog to sleep at the humane society unless they have a dire health condition. Otherwise, we will do anything we can to find them a home,” said Shephard.
Funds are needed for improvements to the humane society, including items for animal care like toys and bedding. Spaying and neutering animals that come to the shelter is also a considerable expense.
Shephard decided that Zeke’s tale would make a good children’s story, and it could be used as a fundraiser to better the lives of cats and dogs just like Zeke.
Shephard’s book “Zeke’s Big Mistake” has been well received by the children who have had an opportunity to listen to it. They even played a role in its creation.
“My grandkids helped me with the book. Every time they were over, I would read them the drafts, and they would help me make changes,” said Shephard.
“Zeke’s Big Mistake” was illustrated by local artists Gary and Deb Ernst.
The books are $10.95, with all proceeds dedicated to the Glacial Lakes Humane Society. The book can be purchased on Amazon, at DDR Books and Glacial Lakes Humane Society.
There will be a book signing event at DDR Books at 1 pm on April 9.