Jill Winans and Kathy Ford
After college at Jacksonville University in Florida and a four-year enlistment in the Air Force, Kathy Ford headed west in 1976 to Los Angeles, where she worked for the phone company, ATT, and where she met her partner, Jill Winans. The pair escaped the Southern California heat in 1985, when Ford took a job with US West in Seattle, and escaped the big-city rat race in 1992, when she transferred to US West Wireless in Eugene. Two years later, Winans opened the CatSpa, a boarding kennel for cats. In 10 years of operation, the CatSpa became increasingly involved in animal rescue. "Greenhill needed a place for victims of domestic violence to leave their cats," she says. "I had as many as 15 at a time." As a board member of the Stray Cat Alliance, she organized an adopt-a-thon in 2003 and brought the Oregon Neutermobile to town for two months in 2004. "We altered 611 dogs and cats," she notes. "And we realized that we needed a full-time everyday low-cost spay/neuter clinic." So Winans and Ford started their own non-profit, the Willamette Animal Guild, and paid a visit to the Humane Alliance of North Carolina. "They mentor groups that want to open a clinic," says Ford, who retired from her phone-biz job in 2006. "We had a blueprint." The WAG Spay/Neuter Clinic opened its doors in January of 2008, at 3045 Royal Ave in Eugene. Earlier this week, the clinic celebrated its 40,000th surgery. To learn more about WAG or to schedule an appointment, visit wagwag.org.