Family comes together to save animals at Furry Paws Rescue

REED CITY — Alycia Niebrzydowski has rescued a number of animals, but if you ask her, they rescued her. 

Her not-for-profit animal rescue shelter, Furry Paws, is looking to make a difference in the lives of animals from across Michigan.

Niebrzydowski, who is originally from Wyandotte, runs the shelter herself in her house in Reed City, with the help of her kids, Jayd, Jason, Zona, and Drake, and her former partner, Anthony Kuzia, with his kids, Cerelia, Antonia, Monesia, Briana and Giustina. The grandkids also help out a lot and will take animals to veterinary appointments while Alycia and Anthony are at work.

"Being out here in the country I feel like they have a better life than in the city."

It all started when Niebrzydowski started seeing dead kittens on the side of the road, due to over-reproduction by cats that roamed the area. She decided to put her foot down and started taking in these cats, spaying and neutering them.

“It was like, kitten after kitten after kitten I was seeing on the road, so it was like, 'enough, we’re going to do this right,'” Niebrzydowski said. 

Niebrzydowski filed for a nonprofit organization three months ago, as well as a tax ID number, but hasn’t heard back. Ideally, she would get recognized as a professional animal shelter and it would be her retirement plan to take care of animals in need of care and a place to stay before they get adopted. 

Aside from not being officially recognized as an animal shelter by the government, the DIY shelter has a fair share of issues. Niebrzydowski has accidentally brought a sick animal into the fold before and is being more careful now, she says.

Running an animal shelter while also working full-time jobs and taking care of kids keeps the entire family busy constantly. While they all pitch in and do their best in part to help the animals, the situation is still not ideal. 

"I would like for them to all have their own home and be adopted out, but while they’re here I make it the best I possibly can," Niebrzydowski said. "I do think that they love it here."

There is an issue of too many kittens and not enough mother cats capable of nursing, so Niebrzydowski and her family use kitten formula and nurse them to adolescence themselves.

Changing food is an ordeal among the cats who all have different digestive preferences, and Niebrzydowski noted that cats can develop IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), just like humans, which can complicate things further.

The cost of litter and food for the dozens of cats and four dogs is expensive, as one might expect, additionally the cost to spay a female is $110, or $70 with a voucher. 

Furry Paws is always in need of funds to help get these cats fixed, so Niebrzydowski has conducted several fundraising events to help her cause, as veterinary fees get expensive and Niebrzydowski pays for everything out of pocket. 

If there’s one thing Niebrzydowski wants people to do aside from donating to the shelter or adopting these cats, is to always spay and neuter.

“There are 70,000 homeless animals in the U.S, and 4,000 healthy animals are put down by shelters per day,” she said. “Adopt from a shelter, don’t reproduce.”

Niebrzydowski also brought up what she calls "kitty AIDS," a sickness that comes from cats being bred by people who don’t have experience, and “it kills them. You don’t want the suffering to go on for animals. Adopt, don’t shop.”

Usually, these cats get sick and are passed on to somebody else. Niebrzydowski tries not to say no to anybody, but with the current volume of cats in her house right now, she’s trying to find other ways to help these animals.

“We can put their pictures and their story online instead of bringing them here and taking a chance of getting an eye cold or something else,” Niebrzydowski said.

Niebrzydowski wants to thank her co-workers at Ventra Evart Local UAW 2770 and says they have been amazingly supportive, donating supplies, money, and help in any way they can. "We are so grateful for all they do."

All cats and dogs at Furry Paws are looking for a forever home. Furry Paws has a page where prospective pet parents can see updates and read about these animals’ stories at