When you walk in the door of the modest house sitting at the end of a courtyard off of South Shields Street, it could be any college students’ house. A shelf of DVDs camps next to a couch across from a T.V. in the front room. There is no air conditioning, so the heat of the Colorado summer has parked itself in the living room and kitchen. A cat meows a greeting. Then another cat . then another cat. Then two Great Danes, more like small ponies than dogs, lumber up the stairs to say hello.
A trip down the stairs reveals this is no ordinary bachelor pad. Kennels of kittens and cats line the walls, and a fan runs full blast to ward off the heat.
It’s the home of two CSU students and their non-profit organization Flat-Faced Friends Rescue.
The two vet-hopefuls take in stray cats from as far as Colorado Springs and Cheyenne and from owners who can no longer care for their pets.
“It’s just what I’ve always done,” said Brandon Sonn, who works at Fort Collins Veterinary Emergency Hospital. “I’ve always taken in strays anyway. Now I’m just licensed to rescue animals.”
Sonn, who is trying to get into the veterinary school, and roommate Allen Simon, a senior biology/pre-vet major, don’t do it alone. Right now, they have 13 foster homes where they place animals to help socialize them and accustom them to being around people and different environments.
They say that foster care is a perfect solution for a college student who wants a pet, but not the long-term commitment. Cats usually stay in foster care for one to three months, before they are put up for adoption.
They also have about five volunteers who help feed, medicate and clean up after the animals at the house.
Tanja Pliler, a Fort Collins resident, discovered the rescue when she took a stray cat with an injured leg the vet and saw their business card. Five weeks ago, she found another stray, called up Flat-Faced Friends and became a volunteer.
“I had this fear that it was going to be ‘the crazy cat lady,” Pliler said, “but I was really impressed that two 22-year-old guys take care of all these animals. They are really professional about it and really organized.”
Sonn and Simon hold a Pet Animal Care Facilities Act (PACFA) license to board animals. Flat-Faced Friends Rescue is also registered with the IRS as a 501c3 non-profit organization, so all donations are tax deductible.
“The more donations we have, the more we can do,” said Sonn. “There is only so much we can do on a limited budget.”
Currently, the shelter houses 17 cats and kittens, although it has the capacity for 60. They’ve had a record adoption rate of 46 cats in the last month.
When an animal first comes to the three-year-old shelter, it’s put in quarantine for at least two weeks. Once it has been vaccinated, de-wormed and checked for diseases, it’s ready to be spayed or neutered.
Healthy animals are allowed to enter the “general population,” that is, have free reign to run about the house, play with other cats or be mothered by the Great Danes, or they go to foster care.
All adoptions go through PetSmart, at either the Fort Collins or Broomfield location, although they have more cages in Broomfield. After a month of not being adopted, the cat comes back to the house or foster care for a while to avoid the depression and boredom of being cooped up and alone all day.
The problem with running a rescue mission for furry felines? Getting attached.
“I swear for every week I’ve been here, I find a new love in my life,” Pliler said.
Send donations to
1440 Edgewood Ct.
Fort Collins, CO 80526
Bags of dry, unopened cat and kitten food (Iams, Purina 1 and Eukanuba)
Unopened cans of wet cat and kitten food
White copy paper
HP Color LaserJet 2820 Toner Cartridges – High Capacity Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, Black, and Imaging Drums
High Quality Stethoscope
Large ceramic bowls
Clavamox tablets (62.5 mg and 125 mg)
Unused, not reconstituted Clavamox drops
Fel-O-Guard Plus 4 Vaccines
Felv/FIV combo tests
Gift certificates to PetSmart/Poudre Feed/Target
Kate Dzintars can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.