WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield native Rosina Wissel said it's her love of animals that motivated her to start her own non-profit rescue organization, Pop-Up Paws, which specializes in helping animals who pose the greatest burden to traditional shelters.

The primary focus is on infant kittens and cats, but organization also takes in the occasional puppy. According to Wissel, the young animals require extensive attention and resources that shelters typically cannot provide.

“We specialize in neonates because they create a very large burden on shelter resources,” Wissel said. “They are highly susceptible to different illnesses, are unable to stay at the shelter overnight and need to be bottle fed every few hours, so they are always on the euthanasia lists.”

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Wissel is not new to animal rescue. While she was in college, her family adopted one of their two cats from a rescue organization.

“We learned a lot about the strain on the community to control the homeless cat population,” she said. According to Wissel, if a cat is left unsprayed it can have up to three litters a year, with each litter possibly consisting of four or more kittens.

Upon graduating Lehigh in 2014, Wissel dedicated a considerable amount of time to learning about animal rescue.

“I’ve worked hard to learn the ins and outs of rescuing and, at 25, I felt ready to create my own organization,” said Wissel, who is now now 26.

Wissel has developed an essential community to help support her rescue efforts including a group of six volunteer foster families that take in animals that are pulled from shelters. These foster families host the animals until they are healthy enough for adoption.

Once the rescued animals are ready for adoption, they attend a public adoption event at retail stores around the area. The adoption process requires paperwork and home visits to ensure the rescues will be well cared for. Wissel said that the organization is also in the process of organizing smaller adoption events in order to help more animals find their forever home before the holidays.

“I’ve established great relationships with different shelters, vets and some fellow rescuers, which has made rescuing really special,” Wissel said.

Pop-Up Paws is always looking for more fosters, she said. Because the neonates are so young, they require in-home care and attention before being re-homed. The organization is also seeking funds.

“We are a small organization with limited resources so we are only able to rescue animals as funds allow, as the cost for caring for them is sometimes astronomical,” said Wissel. “As we continue to fundraise, we are able to pull more animals from shelters and can use more and more foster homes to place them into while they get ready for adoption.”

Interested in volunteering, donating or adopting an animal from Pop-Up Paws? Visit the organization’s website for more details.