Local 8-year-old donates to animal shelter for birthday


Photo: Gadsden resident Andi Chupp interacts with kittens at the Rainbow City Animal Shelter after delivering her birthday donation on May 24. (Courtesy of Teri Chupp) 

By Emma Kirkemier, News Editor

One 8-year-old student at St. James Catholic School in Gadsden recently made a special gift to Rainbow City Animal Shelter.

Andi Chupp turned 8 years old on July 27. She hosted a party for her classmates near the end of the 2022 school year, but instead of birthday presents, she asked her guests to bring $8 each, in honor of her eighth birthday.

Andi made a gift of her own with the money she collected, donating it to a local shelter. Her mother, Teri Chupp, said they received a few “generous” contributions in addition to the multiple $8 ones.

All told, Andi donated $250 to the Rainbow City Animal Shelter.

She and her mother delivered the money on May 24, and Andi decided to sponsor a few of the shelter’s kittens.

“It’s so people don’t have to pay, and also so they can have food,” Andi said.

RBCAS Director Kristy Causey explained that giving $100 to sponsor a pet pays for all of their vetting, including FIV testing, deworming, vaccinations and microchipping.

Where an adopter would typically need to pay a $100 adoption fee, sponsoring a pet waives that cost. A donor-sponsored animal would be able to go home with the family or person whose adoption application was approved for them at no extra cost.

Causey encouraged interested community members to bring essential items like dog and cat food.

“But if they can’t donate in other ways, they can sponsor an animal,” she said. “That helps us get them out of here faster.”

Sponsors, she said, are “helping save a life.”

Causey said she likes to have potential adopters and donors visit the shelter, but RBCAS also accepts donations over the phone or by mail.

“We love for them to meet the animals, to interact with the animals,” Causey said. “Sometimes there’s that animal that just chooses you.”

If visitors do have a pet that “chooses them,” they can complete an application to adopt. The shelter then vets the applications and matches the animal with their new home.

Causey said the shelter experiences “highs and lows” all year round, but summers are particularly difficult because of the high numbers of animals they receive.

“Summertime really is hard for us because it’s puppy and kitten season,” she said.

Causey estimated the shelter has around 60 adoptable animals at the moment.

Andi and Teri Chupp have given cat food to RCBAS before on several occasions, Teri said. St. James Catholic School hosts a pet drive once a year.

“(For her birthday) we didn’t need any more toys, so we threw the idea out there,” Teri said. “Andi got to pick where we donated.”

An avid animal lover, Andi decided to pledge the money she collected to the shelter, specifically to its kittens. Andi said she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up, working with all animals, large and small — just “definitely not snakes.”

Her interaction with the shelter’s cats were some of Andi’s favorite experiences.

“(Through) the glass where you could see them, one of the cats followed my finger,” she said.

Andi said cats are her favorite animals, with horses at a close second, and she takes horseback riding lessons in addition to loving on her pets at home.

The family has two cats at home named Daisy and Tommy.

“Andi has a heart for black cats,” Teri said.

Tommy is a black cat. Teri had a beloved black cat named Emma for 15 years. She said that while Daisy is more reserved, Tommy is affectionate toward Andi.

“Tommy is like a dog,” Teri said. “You call his name, and he’s right there.”

Andi said that Daisy, though less affectionate, is “the softest cat [she has] ever felt.” Andi loves both her cats equally, but her mother said Andi has claimed Tommy as her own.
“She says she’s Tommy’s mom,” Teri said.

When asked if she would consider doing something similar for her next birthday, Andi said yes, but at $9 for her ninth birthday.

Interested animal lovers can donate to Rainbow City Animal Shelter by calling (256) 413-1242 or visiting the shelter at 4450 Steele Station Road in Rainbow City. The shelter is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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