Frankie & Friends Cat House

students working at the Cat HouseIn 2009, Dr. Rebecca Morrow, a Duquesne University Professor, took part in an undercover raid to close down Tiger Ranch. Tiger Ranch was a cat shelter that had been operating for 14 years until Dr. Morrow realized that the owner was mistreating hundreds of animals.

Many of the cats living at Tiger Ranch had pneumonia, ring worms, infections, respiratory problems, and other life-threatening issues. Dr. Morrow saved more than 300 cats found in the raid that desperately needed love and care. She bought a house for these sick cats to be able to have somewhere to stay and Frankie’s Friends Cat Rescue was born.

More than 40 cats currently reside in the two-story house and are able to roam freely. The cats have an outside gazebo that is accessed from the house via a fenced-in ramp, which was broken and in desperate need of repair. Duquesne students volunteered on March 26, 2011 to help repair, clean and organize the house. The gazebo was cleaned out and fixed up so that the cats were able to go outside and play.

In that one day, the student volunteers put much work into cleaning and fixing up the kitty house to enable a safer and healthier environment. Donations of litter boxes, cat toys, cat carriers and other items that are received throughout the year needed to be organized.


“Throughout this project, we have learned that good qualities to express are discipline and your ability to listen. If you can listen to what others are saying and take advice and direction, it makes for a smoother atmosphere. One quote that Dr. Schroth brought up that applies to this project is 'we each try in our own little ways to change the world, but together we can change history.' This is a strong indication that if you are able to obtain order and avoid chaos as a group, you can really change the lives of others. Without the Service Learning class, we may have never had the experience to step outside the box and do something different.”

-Danielle Massey

"I am very glad I got to volunteer with Dr. Morrow, and Frankie's Friends. I learned a lot about the what, how and why's that make community service work, and I became more aware that everyone's help is needed to make projects run smoothly. Every person counts, and is important in achieving the goals of a project, but it also goes with saying that education is the number one combatant of unsuccessful communities. I plan on being a life-long learner to help my community.
Working with Frankie's Friends has had a major influence upon me, I would have to say that volunteering there made me realize just how much I want to succeed in all aspects of my life, not just in academically, but socially, and as a leader in my community, to provide a better place to live for my family, friends, community members, my future children, and myself. Looking at what Dr. Morrow has accomplished, and the group of people that she hangs out with, it is clear what one person can start the ball rolling, but you also need to learn to listen, trust, and rely on others when projects get too big for one person.
Science at the Service of Society has taught me to look at what was going on around me, and look for ways to try and make things run smoother for everyone, and that is what I want to do in my future career."

-Caitlin Templin, Biology 2015

"Community service has always been important to me, and giving back and donating my time is something I have always striven to do in the past. My time in class and with Dr. Morrow, however, has taught me that there is a difference between volunteering and serving. Service-learning is about extending knowledge gained in the classroom to work in the community and reflecting on the influence the activity has had on oneself. I was able to apply the knowledge of anatomy and physiology that I had gained in the classroom to help me treat the cats in the clinic, but I was also able to apply lessons we learned in our Science at the Service of Society course, such as being a good listener and taking on leadership roles. While I will continue to volunteer in my community in the future, I will always keep in mind the important distinction between serving and volunteering.
Working with Dr. Morrow has highlighted important personal qualities that I know I need to possess for a future in veterinary medicine. Communication with the client is essential, and many of Dr. Morrow's clients come from low-income families that do not necessarily have the knowledge or resources for optimal medical care for their pets. Relaying medical information accurately and in colloquial language can be challenging, but is necessary in order to build trust between the doctor and client. In addition to communication skills, Dr. Morrow has taught me a lot about leadership. In her, and others involved in Frankie's Friends, I have found leaders who manipulate available resources to their advantage, rather than using them as an excuse. I have found people dedicated to the betterment of their community, despite the obstacles, long days, strange hours, and lack of financial support. I have been truly inspired by their commitment and passion, and hope to help carry the torch they have lit in future years when I am a veterinarian myself."

-Melissa Hanson, Biology 2015

"Reflecting back, I am beyond happy that Service Learning is still a requirement for the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. It gave me a chance to development my communication skills, organizational skills, and time management skills. It also served as an opportunity to help a community partner with their scientific endeavors. Service learning is a course essential for any aspiring scientist.
Working with Dr. Morrow and her Feral Cat Project has been very enjoyable. I was able to develop personal qualities such as communication, organizational, and time management. The hustle and bustle of her clinic forced me to step out of my quiet nature and comfort zone and be loud and clear. I realized that without proper communication skills, few things would be properly accomplished at the clinic. It is important to be an effective listener in order to gain proper communication skills. All of these skills are important to become an effective leader. An effective leader can guide his or her group in a clear, organized fashion in order to accomplish major goals and tasks that will positively affect the community they are involved with. It is an essential class for scientists because it allows us to engage with the community in order to gain civic responsibility."

-Nikhil Patel, Biology 2015

"Working with Dr. Morrow and Frankie's Friends has truly changed my view on service learning and totally transformed by perspective of community service as a scientist. As part of this project, I helped Dr. Morrow with her medical records for her clinic, and I attended and helped at the Pittsburgh Pet Expo 2014 held at the David Lawrence Convention Center. The respect that the pet expo attenders had for us was evident and quite encouraging.
Working with Frankie's Friends has made me more experienced and has given me social and interpersonal skills. All of these skills are not only useful in everyday life; they will also be extremely useful in the future in my medical profession. For example, when I helped at the Pet Expo, I was required to interact with people of varying educational and social backgrounds, as they asked us questions about the organization or just questions about caring for animals in general. This improved my communication skills and made me a better listener."

-Rami Rajaram, Biology 2015