By Jennifer Henion

Triplicate staff writer

When Kim McCormick first saw the cats in the window at the former Wild Feline Rescue downtown thrift store, she was mortified into volunteering.

She still chokes up when she thinks about it.

Since then, McCormick has gone from scrubbing floors and emptying litter pans to a new mission of building Del Norte's first adequate and modern Humane Society facility.

andquot;We just got all the paper work together to apply for our first grant,andquot; McCormick said yesterday.

She got involved in the huge undertaking of gathering up Del Norte's homeless pets and finding them a new shelter just after moving here three years ago.

When welcome service lady Katie Berkowitz came to the house for a visit, McCormick's three cats swarmed Berkowitz skirt.

The two talked cats a while then Berkowitz told her about Wild Feline Rescue's efforts to raise money through its thrift store.

andquot;So I went down there with stuff I didn't need and shouldn't have packed for the move when I saw Carol Leither and the cats in the window,andquot; McCormick said.

There were so many cats because the local Humane Society had just gone under and asked Leither to help.

Del Norte's Humane Society has been a three-time loser in the last 10 years. No funding, poor organization and too many animals to care for in too little space sent former society leaders out of the business.

With McCormick on board at Wild Feline Rescue, Leither decided to begin a new incarnation of the Humane Society. McCormick became treasurer and eventually was elected president of the board.

Now they are in trouble again. Del Norte County, the agency's landord, needs the Humane Society's land for airport expansion. President McCormick refuses to let the ship sink.

andquot;Having to find a new location, put together a new facility, and move all our animals by the end of May seemed like a catastrophe. But we quickly realized that this challenge is a blessing in disguise,andquot; McCormick said.

And she's making it happen.

The clock started ticking in January when the county gave McCormick 180 days to move the three small buildings housing more than 150 cats and kittens.

The logistics of finding enough people and enough cat carriers to transport the animals to an as yet unknown location sent McCormick and her partners scrambling for ideas.

Within the last few weeks, McCormick and grant writer Charlaine Mazzei found several new funding sources, some that could provide yearly stipends to cover the cost of running a new facility.

andquot;That was great news. Here we have been using our own money and that of volunteers who provide foster homes for the adoption of dogs program and now we find out we can apply to get this grant every year,andquot; she said.

The two also found a free technical assistance program through the Humboldt Area Foundation that will train them how to organize their effort and how to plan it out. That's a crucial first step that will help them win grants.

andquot;It's a great help for those of us coming out of left field and have already tapped our resources,andquot; she said.

But they haven't won any grants yet and it may take six months to a year before they get a response from their applications.

That means they still need immediate help from the county and the general public willing to give donations.

andquot;We are still looking to the county to either find us a place to go or give us the time we need to hear back about the grants, because that's what we're going to need if we want to do this right,andquot; McCormick said.

To contact McCormick call 465-4787 or mail to: The Humane Society of Del Norte Building Fund at P.O. Box 1526, Crescent City, Ca. 95531.