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Shining Star: Janis Kell, who wrote the book on animal shelter volunteering

With two adopted cats already in their Chester home, Janis Kell's husband said enough was enough.

So Janis took to volunteering at a nearby shelter to get what she calls her kitty fix.

There, her furry friends are more like family.

“I know their names,” Janis said. “I go home and I tell my husband, guess what Kennedy did today, or guess what Nathan did today. They're all my babies.”

She's been filling up food bowls and serving up snuggles at the shelter for 7 years.

“I love to work Christmas, New Years, 4th of July, the major holidays,” she said. “For one reason, because I'm off work that day, but also that's a day the employees like to get out early, spend time with their families.”

“She makes everything happier,” said Nichole Felouzis of the animal shelter. “And she does her best to help everybody she makes it a little bit easier to get the work done.”

Janis' passion for shelter pets can even be found in the pages of a children's book. "Sunny and Friends" is stories of shelter pets told in their own words, inspired by Janis' own animal adoptions.

The book features eight short stories.

“Each one has a message,” Janis said. “How to responsibly choose a pet, how to care for a pet, some different things like that. So really I hope folks would maybe read that before they choose a pet and think about why they're getting pet.”

The book is self-published.

“We dipped into the piggy bank, took a leap of faith,” Janis said.

As for the illustrations ...

“That part I thought was going to be immensely difficult,” she added. “I asked around a little bit, nobody claimed to be much of an artist, so I found a website called freelancer.com. I went on and I did a little description of my project and immediately I had like 600 responses from all over the world. It was amazing.”

The artist was another animal shelter volunteer from Brazil.

Before long, boxes of the book were shipped to Janis' home, then distributed to several area shelters.

And the proceeds ...

“You know what, the animals need the money more than I need money in my pocket,” she said. “It's just, there's so much need and there's so many homeless pets, not just at this shelter, but at so many shelters. I wanted to do something for them.”

This week's Shining Star is hoping her stories will help others will fall in love with her friends at the shelter, one tale at time.

“I just want them to you know, feel that they're loved and eventually get a home” Janis said.

Books are available at the following locations:

Weirton Book Company & Pennway Pharmacy in Weirton, Davis Brothers Pharmacy in New Cumberland, Chester Vet Clinic & Lynn Murray Library in Chester, Team Impact Gym in East Liverpool, Key Animal Hospital in Wheeling, Hancock County Animal Shelter. Beaver County Humane Society in Monaca, Pa., Angels for Animals in Canfield, Ohio, Animal Care & Welfare in Hookstown, Pa.

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