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East County Cat Rescuers, Working Together to Make a Difference

Ray Zeeb and Clarice Nunnally together rescue and nurse to health kittens, some as tiny as these.
Ray Zeeb and Clarice Nunnally together rescue and nurse to health kittens, some as tiny as these.

Long-time animal rescuers Ray Zeeb and Clarice Nunnally have what you might describe as a symbiotic relationship -- he finds homeless, starving, and sometimes half-dead cats and she brings them back to life.

"Every time I turn around, there's Clarice, willing to take in another cat, " says Zeeb, a steadfast volunteer with two East Contra Costa County animal rescue organizations (H.A.R.P., an all volunteer animal welfare organization working to end pet overpopulation through community education, spay and neuter programs, and adoptions and S.N.I.P., a non-profit, low-cost spay and neuter organization for feral cats, working to reduce the number of cats and kittens brought into the animal shelters in Antioch, Martinez, and Pinole).

During the day, when he's not tending the 10 plus cats he fosters and the cats and dogs in his own animal sanctuary or visiting stores for contributions of litter, food and other supplies, Zeeb can be found in various locations throughout downtown Antioch where he and his wife, Phyllis, cart roughly 80lbs of food (including some 25 cans of wet) and water to feed homeless cats along the waterfront.

"Clarice makes doctor's appointments and nurses sick kittens and cats for me," he says, recalling a recent evening when he called on her to care for some three-week-old kittens he found during one of his evening missions.

"It was 10 p.m., but I didn't know how to care for them myself, so I called her and her husband and she said, 'come on over!' Here it was, 1:30 in the morning, and there's Clarice bathing these flea-covered babies in her bathroom sink!" says Zeeb.

Incredulous at the memory, he shakes his head when he adds, "I regularly call on her (during the night). If that's not dedication, I don't know what is."

It doesn't stop there. " She brings cream over for their eyes when they have infections and applies it. I don't know how to do that sort of thing," he says, holding up his large worker's hands.

Zeeb, who has been rescuing animals some 30 years now, since he was on the road working as a cross-country truck driver, appreciates that his fellow rescuer and H.A.R.P. volunteer can always seem to see the light down the darkest path.

"I came upon a little black and white cat one night (at the waterfront) and knew I couldn't leave her," he says about the newborn kitten he named Sadie.

"Clarice comes over the next morning and shows me how to bottle feed her. I had no idea what to do with her." His mind drifts down memory lane as he adds, "Clarice is responsible for the 10 cats I have now being alive."

Zeeb is equally appreciative of Nunnally's husband, Bill, who often accompanies Zeeb on his gathering of plastic milk cartons to fill with water for the homeless cats. Nunnally's husband also repairs cat poles and assists Zeeb with his efforts for quarterly held S.N.I.P. clinics, trapping feral cats along the waterfront and bringing them in to be spayed or neutered by volunteer veterinarian staff and then releasing them where they were found.

"Bill goes everywhere with me to pick up food and other donations. I don't know what I would do without the two of them."