Cheektowaga nursing home’s newest resident is the cat’s meow

Local News

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB-TV) – There’s a new resident at The McGuire Group’s Garden Gate facility. 

“For a time period over the last year, people have been isolated to their rooms at certain times, visitation has been an issue during COVID, and I thought that having a cat in the facility could bring a piece of home into their lives,” said Amber Wiehe, administrator at Garden Gate.

It just so happens, her mother runs A Purr-Fect Animal Rescue & Adoption Center, Inc. in Williamsville.  So Amber contacted her mom to adopt a cat. 

“I was so impressed with my daughter that she wanted to do this for the residents,” said Chris Wiehe of A Purr-fect fit.

Chris was thrilled to help arrange the ‘purr-fect’ adoption.

By their own admission, Amber and Chris do not always see eye-to-eye, but they did agree on the mutual benefits of this. 

“I think it’s given the residents something to look forward to…And it’s just brightened up everyone’s day a little bit,” Amber said.

“Shelby has made a great difference in my world,” said resident Shirley Schweickert. “I come in here, and the first thing I say is, ‘Where’s shelby?’ I look for her, I like her.”

“I think animals are one of our favorite things. And we see, we lose friends here, and we gain friends,” she said.

Shirley explained she lost a of friends due to COVID and was thrilled to gain Shelby. 

“I call her the queen. Queen Shelby,” Shirley laughed. 

Queen Shelby’s throne is in Garden Gate’s activities room, but she takes strolls in a special pet stroller to visit residents elsewhere.

On those walks, Shelby will stop by rooms for a pet a smile from some, and along the way, her presence will lift the spirits of the employees, too.

It’s a win-win for the mother-daughter duo that helped make it happen: A cat finds a forever home, and everyone at Garden Gate gets something out of it, too. 

“It’s just a good feeling to know that [Amber] thought of me and that there is now an animal that didn’t have a home that now does and is loved by all the residents,” Chris said.

Chris hopes this story helps let Western New Yorkers know that you can adopt a cat for your place of work. What matters, when you apply, she says is that you’re a responsible pet owner who will love the cat and make sure it’s up to date on vet check ups and vaccines, no matter the setting.

Erica Brecher is an anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.

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