MENOMINEE INDIAN RESERVATION, Wis. - Cathy Bates of Appleton began her animal rescue work on the Menominee Indian Reservation nine years ago. She said the friendships she has created and her passion for the pets keep her coming back, but she needs more help from Northeast Wisconsin to make a bigger difference.
Every six weeks, Bates and her husband, Jeff, make the drive from Appleton to the Reservation, and they always arrive with gifts in hand. When NBC26 tagged along, we stopped with the Bates at Mary Martin's house.
"There's a lot of times that when you can't afford dog food or dog treats and then they come here and it's like, 'Yes! We got some,'" Martin chuckled.
She is unemployed and said many of her neighbors, who own pets, struggle with poverty.
"You see a lot of people on like food stamps."
So imagine Martin's despair when her dog, Queenie, developed mammary cancer. Treatment was too expensive, so Bates used her connections to get Queenie life-saving surgery.
"For me to give them $300 would've been huge, but with people contributing, we were able to come up with it," said Bates.
After seeing Queenie's progress, the Bates traveled down the street to Marvin Matchopatow's" house to drop-off a handmade dog house for his German shepherd, Semper. It'll provide warmth and shelter during the winter months.
"For me, it's kind of like a blessing. For the dog, I would say the same thing," said Matchopatow.
Bates relies on a volunteer to build the dog houses from scratch.
"She picks up scrap wood and stuff at work that they allow her to get, and she builds houses. When she gets a load built, she lets me know and they come up."