Everyday Hero: Family gives 'helping paw' to needy cats

By Stephanie Bechara, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, November 20, 2017, 11:59 AM EST

A family in Kissimmee who rescues cats is going above and beyond to save their furry friends. After 25 years, these everyday heroes continue to give a helping paw.

  • Daughter, parents helps rescue cats
  • 'Bonita's Heavely Paws' has not turned away cats
  • Trio pay for veterinarian bills out of pocket

Clarissa Bruno and her parents, T.J. and Hermaleen Palmer, have taken it upon themselves to care for homeless cats.

“If they're sick, we pick them up or somebody brings them to us, and we take care of them,” Bruno said. “We take them to the vet to make sure they're OK, or get them spayed or neutered and go from there. We try to find them homes; if not, this is their forever home.”

These pet parents also cover any veterinary and medication expenses. It is something they have been doing for decades.

“They need help. They can't defend themselves. They don’t ask to be abandoned or abused,” Bruno said.

The family calls their rescue, “Bonita’s Heavenly Paws.” They do all of this out of their home. Their backyard has become a playpen for these felines; it is filled with every cat's dream: toys, crates, catnip and food. To this day, they have never turned away a cat.

“I don’t see myself as a hero. I see my dad as a hero, because he was in the Navy for 20 years. I don’t see myself as a hero. This is something that I have a passion for,” she explained.

T.J. Palmer, Bruno's father, is a retired Navy veteran. When he is not attending the funerals of homeless vets in the community, he is building "catios" or cat gyms, for these four-legged creatures.

Hermaleen, Bruno's mom, has ailments working against her, but despite that, nothing stops them. The trio don't think they're doing anything special. They think anyone with a heart can do the same.

“We do it for the love of cats. We don’t do it for recognition or the glory. It’s about taking care of lives that can’t take care of themselves,” Bruno added.

If you would like to help these pet rescuers financially, click here: https://www.gofundme.com/42qw6e8


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