Animal Hero of the Month: John Bartlett

Meet our first animal hero of the month: John Bartlett. Find out what makes him an amazing animal advocate, and learn more about the organization he helps.

John pictured with a previous foster family.
John Bartlett bonds with a foster family.

The winner of Petful’s very first Animal Hero of the Month award is John Bartlett, who fosters cats and kittens in his Washington State home.

We asked John what he does and which organization he supports. He explained, “I volunteer with Purrfect Pals, the largest no-kill, cat-only shelter and sanctuary in the Northwest.”

He continued: “I assist at one of the off-site adoption centers at a PetSmart and perform socialization for the cats and can adopt them out to new homes. I also foster cats and kittens who need a little time for TLC until they’re old enough and healthy enough to be adopted.”

John also operates and maintains a web cam in the room of his house in which he raises and cares for each set of foster cats and kittens. This has become known to fans as the Kitten Cam.

Through this streaming video in which John regularly appears, he has inspired others to donate, get involved in rescues and shelters, and even start fostering too.

The Nomination

We received many nominations for so many different and worthy animal heroes that it was hard to choose a winner. The nomination that won us over for John was sent in by Nancy Freeman:

“This man has been giving his time, money and heart to the many litters of kittens he has been fostering since 2008. He is on his 35th litter! I find this level of dedication to be exemplary. Many folks foster, but continuously for five years? That is true dedication to a promise made and kept.

He also gives his time freely as a volunteer at adoption events as well as fundraisers for PurrfectPals…. In addition to all these efforts, he chose, in late 2011, to take an even bigger step. He chose to install a live webcam to broadcast 24/7 from the nursery so that he could share his foster experiences with all who chose to tune in.

It is impossible to count the thousands of viewers who have been touched by his efforts. Some have started fostering on their own, some have aided their local shelters, some have cried and shared their grief and have been comforted by total strangers half a world away. Friendships were forged through a monitor screen. It is priceless and wonderful, all because of this one man’s heart-of-gold efforts.”


Here’s what our Animal Hero of the Month award winners receive:

  • Winners will receive a Animal Hero of the Month medal.
    Winners will receive the Animal Hero of the Month medal and a $50 cash prize.

    A feature article (you’re reading it)

  • Social media mentions across all of our platforms
  • A permanent spot on the list of winners
  • Our custom, engraved gold-tone paw print medal with ribbon
  • $50 cash award

In true animal hero style, John has chosen to defer the cash award to Purrfect Pals so they can help more cats and kittens. The donation in John’s name represents Petful’s ongoing commitment to give back to the animal welfare community.

About the Organization

Purrfect Pals was started in 1988 in Washington State by Kathy Centala. Slowly outgrowing her home rescue, she relocated to a five-acre location to accommodate more cats. The cat-only shelter went from placing a few dozen cats each year to more than 2,500. There is an animal hospital on the property offering low-cost and free services for ferals. Purrfect Pals also provides accommodations to cats with leukemia, FIV and behavioral issues.

Children’s birthday parties are frequently held on site, with kids asking for donations to the shelter instead of presents. Purrfect Pals also operates a prison program that helps tame feral cats to prepare them for adoption. Purrfect Pals is currently the Northwest’s largest cat-only adoption organization and sanctuary.

If you would like to make a donation to Purrfect Pals, you can do so via PayPal here.

Q&A With John Bartlett

John, what got you started helping animals?

An old friend of mine had a cat who had kittens. Since she lived in an apartment, she asked if I could foster them while she located homes for them. Taking care of them got fostering in my blood, and the thought of fostering more litters was a tickle in the back of my head for several years until I finally scratched it and contacted Purrfect Pals.

John is in blue next to the cat. (c) John Bartlett.
That’s John in blue next to Rusty the cat. By: John Bartlett

What’s your earliest childhood memory that is animal-related?

A photo of our cat Rusty and my brother and me side-by-side looking over a fence. I don’t remember the actual moment, but it’s the oldest thing of me and a cat.

How old were you when you got your first animal?

We’ve had cats all my life, but the first cat I adopted once I lived on my own was when I was 23 after I moved out of the dorms while I was in the Air Force.

What is your favorite animal?

The wolf. Majestic creatures they are.

Tell us about the one animal you will never forget.

My oldest cat, Socks. Bullheaded, pigheaded, stubborn and arrogant for the vast majority of his life, he fears nothing. He’s extremely intelligent and has loved to prank me — for example, dipping his paw into his water bowl and then touching my bare lower back with it. But as he aged, he started to realize that being petted was actually a nice thing, and now that he’s 13 he has turned into a sweetheart.

What are the least and highest amounts of pets you have had at one time?

Least was one. Socks was an only cat for the first couple of years of his life; then I adopted a playmate for him. Then I bought a large house and suddenly I (and the local strays discovered) had no pet limit. I did discover that I had a limit and after I found Purrfect Pals, new strays and kitten strays go to them.

If your pets could talk, what would they say?

Young Socks: “Pet me and die.”
Old Socks: “Pet me or die.”
The rest of them would be a chorus of, “My bowl isn’t full!” “He’s sleeping in my spot!” “I can hear you breathing on the other side of that door; come out and pet me!”

If you could solve one problem facing animals, what would it be?

That no domesticated animal would ever have to die alone and unloved.

If you could be reincarnated as any animal, which would you choose and why?

Bald eagle. Soaring through the skies, watching the world slide underneath my wings.

If the rainbow bridge exists, which pet would you most like to see waiting for you on the other side?

Right now, Keaira, who crossed over it in February.

* * *

If you would like to nominate someone to be Petful’s next Animal Hero of the Month, nomination details are available here.

Help us make this award even more special. If you or your company is interested in sponsoring our Animal Hero of the Month award or adding prizes, contact us at [email protected]

  • Learn more about how Pets Adviser is working to help make a difference: How We Help.

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, is an author, poet and pet lover from Louisiana. She is the author of an award-nominated book, One Unforgettable Journey, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. She was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. She is also employed as chief operating officer for a large mental health practice in Louisiana. Kristine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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