Rescue shelter creation: from tragedy to hope


Photo by Mallary Vasquez

Taffy Dozar with a cat at Seven More Cats Rescue. Dozar founded the rescue and takes in cats that need homes.

Mallary Vasquez, Reporter

The year is 2006 and a St. Charles resident sits on the front porch of her home wondering what her purpose in life is now that her children are not there with her.

When the woman, Taffy Dozar, looked across her yard, she could see the eyes of several stray cats. She then goes inside and returns with food for the cats. She had already been feeding and caring for them at the time.

As they approached her this time, she realized that she had found her purpose: caring for stray and unwanted cats. This was when the mission of Seven More Cats was born.

By having the cats there to rely on her, Dozar began to focus on rescuing them. Helping the stray cat population was her way to fill the void she felt from her adult children being gone.

“It all started just out of trying to fill a void with my daughter and my son both being gone. It kept me busy,” Dozar said.

Around the time she began rescuing animals, Dozar’s son was in the military and fighting in Iraq until he retired from the military around 2014.

Her daughter Heather was murdered on New Year’s Day in 2006 at the age of 23.

Dozar said she and her daughter would talk about opening a rescue shelter if they ever won the lottery. Dozar posted to Facebook on Heather’s birthday in March mentioning the plans the two had.

“I put out there: ‘happy birthday, our little game of if I won the lottery has paid off. I didn’t win the lottery, but the cats have,’” she said.

Dozar said that both of her children loved cats. Her son helps out at Seven More Cats, and she believes her daughter would also enjoy the rescue.

“She would’ve been right here with me, with my son,” Dozar said.

Seven More Cats is a no-kill cat rescue shelter in St. Charles. Dozar began taking care of stray cats around 2005 while giving the cats to foster homes until becoming an officially licensed rescue in 2015.

“When I first moved in to where I live now, I noticed all of these stray cats and at the time we had dumpsters so I’d take food up and I’d call the city about it, and this is before TNR became legal,” Dozar said. 

TNR is trap, neuter, release. Trapping feral cats, getting them fixed as well as giving any vaccines they may need, and releasing them back to their original location as long as someone there is able to care for them.

Dozar said that after helping numerous strays, she noticed that many of them were friendly cats and could be adoptable. She would take in the cats and either adopt them out or give them to foster homes, with some of the cats staying at her own house.

“There is no ‘I’ll do these few and quit’ cause there’s always stray cats, always people dumping them, it’s like fighting a never-ending battle,” Dozar said. 

Dozar’s son, Rocky Hinsperger, became involved in the rescue after coming back from deployment and began taking in foster cats that his mother needed homes for. While Dozar’s inspiration for the shelter came from filling the void she felt in the absence of her daughter and while her son was away, Hinsperger also finds the shelter to provide another emotional fulfillment.

“Sometimes it gets me away from the house and the daily grind, just kind of an outlet, just kind of take my mind of the seriousness,” Hinsperger said.

The shelter has become a family operation, with Hinsperger himself becoming more involved over the years and now volunteering at the shelter on a regular basis.

“I come in usually in the evenings because there’s usually someone here in the morning, I just basically interact with the cats. One’s that need work I try to work with them, make them a little more friendly, check their food, water, give them snacks or treats, and just hang out and interact with them,” Hinsperger said.

Dozar’s desire to fill the void she felt in the absence of her children ended up starting the mission of seeking to control the stray cat population in the St. Charles area, one that has lasted for more than a decade.