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By Jim Allen

Big Tony

VFW 3513 Alley Cats Rescue 2024 - Another Success Story

Series: Veterans In The News | Story 58

Big Tony is a success story. We have had a number of these stories since we began the VFW 3513 Alley Cat Rescue several years ago. Unfortunately, these success stories don't make it any easier to remember the kitties who were not so lucky. This has definitely been a learning process. Starting out I was naive and hopeful of making all of their lives easier and better. Reality soon took over. It is a monumental task. And, the odds against saving them all is unrealistic. Still we persist and take comfort in the ones we can help. I would also like to thank Fearless Kitty Rescue in Fountain Hills, AZ for all of their support with our VFW 3513 Alley Cat Rescue Operation. - Jim Allen

I would like to tell you the ongoing story of Joelle, David and "Big Tony".

My sister told Joelle and David about the Cat Rescue program we have at our VFW Post 3513 in Scottsdale. Joelle was looking for a companion for her cat. Joelle's cat, named Kitty, had been a feral cat living behind her house. Since this was in Arcadia, I kidded her about how her cat got to be named "Kitty". If you have been around the Valley for a few years, you probably know that Miss Kitty from the television series Gunsmoke lived in Arcadia.

Kitty, having been feral, was not altogether comfortable with other cats. We looked around for the perfect match and decided on Tony. Tony had come to us a few months earlier and was timid with other cats and with people. He soon learned to fit in with the other cats in our colony and our Post members grew to love him.

Arizona Boating & Watersports

Tony did not readily adapt to living inside. He hid on a bookshelf for the first few days. He is gradually becoming adjusted thanks to the persistence of Joelle and David. He has been groomed, visited the vet, and is about to have the benefit of a personal cat trainer.

We at the post who have adopted some of the feral cats in our colony know what great companions they can become given care and loving. As any other relationship, it takes some work but is well worth the effort.

Joelle Addante and David Thayer are business partners at Launch Powered by Compass (602/790-6484). I am sure that they treat their business with the same caring, respect and dedication that they have shown to "Big Tony".

Sun Valley Fiber-Glas

More information on the VFW 3513 Alley Cats is available at VFW 3513 Alley Cats Project.

The top picture in this story is Frank and Cali. Frank was number 21 in our rescue effort. Frank was a complete loaner until Cali came along a little later. Frank would have nothing to do with any of the other cats but he followed me around wherever I went. When Cali showed up she took to Frank and they became a pair. Frank is now living with Carol and I and is the most loving and playful cat you can imagine. Totally different personality than when he was literally living in the alley. Unfortunately Cali just disappeared one day. With all of the hazards, including coyotes, that these cats face her disappearance was not unusual. We all know that the cats face terrible odds but it does not make it any easier to accept.

More Big Tony Pictures

Chester James was our first to be caught and taken into Arizona Spay and Neuter. This picture shows Chester sitting in his carrier on top of my car when we brought him back to the Post after his visit with the Vet. He was so groggy from the anesthesia that I thought I would open his carrier door for a minute to get this picture. Chester fooled me, the second after I took this picture he sprang to life and out the door to freedom. My plan was to keep him in the carrier over night to let him recover. He obviously did not agree with that plan. As he flew over my head to escape he gave me this look that said "I trusted you and look what it got me". He still gives me that look today but from a distance.

Mr. Goldwater

MEET MR. GOLDWATER 2020, -- He was one of 13 (at press time in 2020) young kitties who have been captured, spayed or neutered, and released by members of VFW Post 3513 as part of their neighborhood community service. It's known as VFW "Alley Cats Operation Paws". If you would like to offer this gentle boy a forever home (or even a foster home), please email Another way to be a part of this valuable project is to donate in the name of the Post to Arizona Spay and Neuter Clinic. Note - Mr. Goldwater is still with us and still looking for a home. He is a beautiful cat and would make a loving companion. - Jim Allen

Kirk Russell,, has offered to do a portrait photography session at VFW 3513 to raise money for the VFW 3513 Alley Cat rescue effort. A $10 per person fee will be charged for this sitting. This $10 will be donated by Kirk Russell to the Alley Cats. This fee includes the sitting and a digital image, approximately 4x6 in size of your choice, for the internet and social media. A set of preview images will be sent (via email) to all participants with the ability to order photographic prints starting at $39.95 for 2-5x7’s or one 8x10. Additional print sizes available.

Kirk Russell Photos

This will be held on a Sunday (date to be determined).

Appointments will be scheduled at 10-minute intervals.

Advance reservations are highly recommended. Or, you may schedule in person on Sunday as time permits.

Big Tony's First Bath

Contact information will be provided when the date is determined to make reservations.


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