CFC News

Susan and Scotch at Hump Back Park

Susan and Scotch at Hump Back Park

Susan Blakeney has been a tireless volunteer at Caring for Creatures since 2007.   You’ll see her at CFC running/walking dogs at a rate that is hard to keep up with, and behind the camera taking photos of dogs.  She is involved with the (new and exciting) Sanctuary web page, providing many of the photos that are included with the pet bios available to potential adopters, as well as other behind the scenes work.

Susan has played an invaluable role at CFC by fostering pets for Caring for Creatures.  These have included a mom with newborn kittens, kittens who need to be bottle fed, kittens who are extremely shy and almost feral, and special needs dogs.  Fostering makes such a difference in getting these pets adoption ready!

Susan has a very active role with numerous very special animals, working with Caring for Creatures and rescue organizations in New England to save these dogs and cats from euthanasia at high kill shelters.

Lucky for Caring for Creatures, Susan and her husband David relocated to this area in 2007 from South Carolina.  She stumbled upon CFC and our very persuasive Sue Scott trained Susan to be a dog walker and (in Susan’s words), “did a great job luring me in for the long haul.  Thank you Sue!”

For Susan, the best part about volunteering at CFC is the pets.  In her own words, “We are all in it for the pets, and each and every one in their own special way, is SO grateful and loving and appreciative.  It is frankly an honor to be around all of these wonderful, kind hearted souls.  I am humbled by them.”

Susan has two favorite dogs, but they both think they are the one, so please don’t tell them that there is another one.  Susan has been fostering Scotch, age 7, since January.  Scotch was a very energetic fellow, but almost immediately upon coming into Susan’s home, he became a well behaved, gracious pet.  He is ready to be adopted and will bring someone great joy!  Paulie is Susan’s other favorite.  He can be bossy and ill-behaved but Susan and other CFC staff and volunteers are working very hard to change Paulie.  He also would make a great companion for someone who could guide and understand him.

Susan spends her limited free time running with Scotch on trails in state parks and, during the winter, snowboarding.  In addition to David (human) and Scotch (foster dog), Susan also lives with three cats, Mikey (CFC alum, adopted in April) and Isabelle (adopted from CFC), and Ruthie (adopted from the shelter in South Carolina).

Come out to CFC and meet Susan and Scotch and Paulie, or you can check them out at


Sue Scott has been a dedicated volunteer at Caring for Creatures since 2005.  She is a faithful and tireless dog walker, volunteers at adoption events and craft fairs, and is well known for the Holiday Gift Bags she creates and sells every holiday season on behalf of Caring for Creatures.

For Sue, walking dogs entails much more than just a walk.  She also provides socialization, plays with the animals, and bathes them. The pooches all know they can count on Sue for regular walks and lots of love!

Sue’s work at adoption events and craft fairs has many goals, including spreading the word about the Sanctuary, seeking donations, sharing her knowledge about the dogs up for adoption, and selling hand crafted items made by other volunteers.

Sue heads up the popular Holiday Gift Bag fundraiser. The $5-donation dog bags include a bandana and either a rope toy or a tennis ball, along with snacks.  The cat gift bag includes homemade catnip pouches with fresh catnip, toys and snacks.  The bags are available at pet shops, veterinarian offices, and many local businesses in Fluvanna and Charlottesville.   This is a great fundraiser for Caring for Creatures.  With the help of other hardworking volunteers, Sue raises a minimum of $5,000 through this campaign every year!

It was back in 2005, that Sue saw a notice seeking volunteers for an animal sanctuary.  As described, it combined her lifelong interest in volunteer work with her love of animals so she decided to give it a try.  She has loved every minute and has convinced many of her friends to join her at the Sanctuary.  What Sue loves most is seeing a frightened, abandoned animal learn to trust and enjoy a safe and happy life while residing at the Sanctuary.

Sue Scott was born in the Bronx, lived in New York for her first 29 years, in Connecticut after that, and has been in Virginia for 13 years and counting.    She lives with her husband, Bob, who is also a CFC volunteer.  They have been married for 47 years and share their Lake Monticello home with Macey, the third dog she has adopted from Caring for Creatures.  In addition to her volunteer work, Sue and Bob enjoy traveling and visiting National and State Parks with their grandsons!

Asked who her current favorite CFC dog and/or cat is, Sue talks about Kia, a 15 year old dog who has been at the Sanctuary since a very large emergency rescue undertaken by Caring for Creature in 2005.  She describes Kia as “a bit shy, but full of love, tail wags and belly rub cravings.  She is polite and a good leash walker who has waited all these years for a home of her own and that special person to love.” Come meet Sue at Caring for Creatures, and you can meet Kia, too.  They’ll be glad to see you!

MCRUDERS_with cats_aug2014 (1024x815) (800x637) CCraig and Cheryl McGruder love the 150 cats and kittens who reside at Caring for Creatures. They have been enthusiastic volunteers for 10 years.  In the beginning, they volunteered the first Monday of each month, cleaning one of the rooms at the Scratching Post.  They helped the staff as they got to know and love the cats.  Eventually once a month was not enough and they started coming every Monday.

It is almost impossible to name the number and variety of tasks and projects that Craig and Cheryl have undertaken for CFC.  They do laundry (and put up a clothes line to help with this task) and dishes (no small task with 150 felines).  They have replaced the countertop surfaces in each cat room.  They built cat steps and benches and patio tables.  They had a Memory Garden constructed in honor of their parents, which provides a wonderful place for everyone to enjoy the peaceful Sanctuary that is Caring for Creatures.

The McGruders clean the leukemia positive room, which contains, in their words, “some of the most awesome cats at CFC. Watching them play and zip around the room is so rewarding and even if we have them for only a short time we know they are safe, warm, well fed, and loved without limits.”

Craig McGruder was born in Richmond and grew up in Henrico County.  Cheryl moved to Henrico County when she was very young.  They met in high school and married in 1969.  They have lived in Goochland County since 1977. They got to know Caring for Creatures initially when they were volunteering with a small cat rescue group in Richmond.  They had a FIV+ kitty named Mr. T and CFC agreed to accept him.  They were so impressed with the Sanctuary and its mission that they promised themselves that they would volunteer at CFC when they retired (a promised they kept!).

When asked about their favorite part of volunteering at Caring for Creatures, Cheryl responds, “The feeling I have at the end of the day that we have helped in some small way.  Mary is such an amazing woman that you just want to help in any way you can.”  Craig adds, “Interacting with all the different kitty personalities.  We mourn when one passes and we celebrate when they go to their forever loving homes.”  They both love watching a shy, scared and sometimes terrified cat realize that everything is going to be OK.  Seeing that stark fear leave their eyes to be replaced by trust and love is so rewarding.  They also have met some very special humans at CFC.

When they are not at the Sanctuary, Craig and Cheryl live with 9 very spoiled kitties ranging in age from 4 to 15.  They also foster a very petite 4 year old FIV+ kitty from CFC named Porsche as she recovers from dental surgery.  Five of their cats were adopted from CFC and four were rescues from Richmond.  Sitting in their sun room reading the Sunday paper surrounded by these wonderful creatures is one of their favorite activities.

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Donna and Lulu

Donna and Lulu

Donna Horan has been a really “sweet” volunteer for Caring for Creatures since 2005.  She began making and selling baked goods soon thereafter, donating the proceeds to CFC.  Her baking has satisfied many a sweet tooth and bread lover!  When Donna isn’t baking, she is busy walking CFC dogs, washing them, helping with fund raisers, and transporting dogs to and from CFC’s very helpful Veterinarians.  Donna also sells dog bandanas, cat toys, and she has just added cat nip bags, all of which provide much needed revenue for the Sanctuary.

With all of her caring for Creatures activities, it’s hard to believe that Donna has time for anything else, but she loves cooking and baking, working around her great house, traveling and cruising, and having family and friends come to visit.

Donna and her late husband Bernie lived in Hicksville Long Island, New York before moving to Lake Monticello.  They built their house in 2003 and moved in in 2005.  Soon after, persuasive Sue Scott (see other Volunteer Spotlights) came knocking and asked Donna if she liked animals and would be interested in helping at an animal sanctuary walking dogs once a week.  Donna said yes and the rest is history.

When asked who her favorite dog is, Donna chose Lulu, a five year old black and tan beauty.  “She really is beautiful, she’s house trained and just a sweet girl who needs a loving family,” Donna said.

Donna’s husband died in 2012. She is sustained by the love of her friends at Lake Monticello, her family, and the unconditional love of her four legged friends at Caring for Creatures.  CFC is a peaceful spot to walk dogs, and the rural setting and the quiet helps to reduce stress.  In her words, “you get to escape for several hours from the craziness of the world.”  She especially appreciates the “thank you” and the “I am glad to see you” doggie kisses, and the barking and tail wagging when she arrives at the Sanctuary.  It makes her day!

Come find out for yourself why Caring for Creatures is such a special place.  You can meet Lulu and the other dogs and cats at CFC.  You might even see Donna walking or washing dogs.  You can also check out the dogs and cats at

Roxy WEB FINALCompact cutie pie!   This sunny faced, golden girl is simply darling. Roxy is sweet, snuggly, cute and very smart!  She appears to have some basic training and she’s always happy to show you all the special tricks she has up her paw!  A pleasure, Roxy quickly sits when she sees you approaching. Chasing tennis balls is one of her favorite pastimes and what a joy it is, to watch her have such fun!   She’s super fast and likes dropping the ball after she picks it up so she can play with it some more on her way back.  Frisbees are also her friend so coupling her athletic, focused, and quick to learn qualities, might make her a good candidate for agility course work.  A dip and lounge time in a swimming pool round out Roxy’s unique mix of outdoor activities that keep her busy and entertained for long periods of time. Roxy nicely mixes and mingles with other dogs both large and small and is a skilled, steady paced leash walker.

Roxy is a petite gal weighing only in the mid 20lb range so she’s ideal for just about any size lap.   A more active family to keep her brain and body exercised will perfectly suit her pet style and adding slightly older kids to the mix would wonderfully round out her new family.   Roxy is hoping soon you’ll come on out and tell her, “You’re the one for me!”


BBQ Buddy and crew3 good rev

Our first annual Cure the Critters fundraiser was a huge success!  A huge thank you goes out to our sponsor, Buddy’s Banging Que, Event Coordinator, Alexander Stone of James River Good Works Group, Musicians Ethan Hamburg and Four Hits and a Miss, our volunteers and to everyone who participated in this event to make it a huge success!

Thank you Scottsville Monthly  for publishing this News Release:

Cure the Critters Fundraiser A Success

The Scottsville area community showed strong support for homeless animals at the May 20 barbecue benefit held to raise funds for Palmyra’s Caring for Creatures animal sanctuary and its Medical Needs Fund.  Cure the Critters event sponsor Buddy’s Banging Que served up a “sell-out” 270 barbecue sandwich plates, for which appreciative diners dropped $2471 into the Caring for Creatures donation jar at the end of the food line.  And there was more to it than the great food.

A fun time was had by the event attendees, as they enjoyed live music by local artists Four Hits and a Miss and Ethan and His Keyboards; held, hugged and petted adorable puppies that motivated five spontaneous adoption applications; judged a pet fashion contest; and viewed displays exhibited by several local service organizations.

Caring for Creatures President Mary K. Birkholz was moved to say “Even after 30 years of doing this work, I am always moved by the generosity of others and the deep caring so many in our central Virginia community have for animals — especially those who have been neglected or abandoned. All of us at CFC send our heartfelt thanks to everyone who made this event possible.”