Penelope and Orville’s story wins $1,500 for local shelter

Penelope the sightless cat came from a feral colony and was brought to the Hancock County Humane Society in July. Author Kathleen Free, who volunteers at the shelter, has written a children's book about Penelope and her companion, Orville. (Tom Russo | Daily Reporter)

GREENFIELD — Penelope and Orville are riding high. The story of the feline best friends recently placed sixth among more than 150 entries in an online shelter pet story contest, winning the Hancock County Humane Society a $1,000 cash grant and $500 worth of pet supplies.

Shelter volunteer Kathleen Free of Greenfield wrote the story of Penelope, a cat born with no eyes, and Orville, the kitten who quickly befriended her and became her “seeing-eye cat.” The Daily Reporter wrote about the story and the contest on Sept. 23.

The Clear the Shelters Adoption Story Challenge, hosted by The Animal Rescue Site and, took place the last two weeks of September, with the winners being chosen by online votes.

Penelope and Oliver’s story was in the top 10 throughout much of the contest, finishing in sixth place.

“It was an impressive result, when you consider that there were so many worthy stories,” said Free, who fostered Penelope and Orville before they were adopted as a bonded pair in August by Debbie McKinney, a medical assistant at the Sue Ann Wortman Cancer Center in Greenfield.

“We now have have $1,000 to spend on feeding hungry kittens and mama cats, rescuing abandoned cats and kittens, doing our best to reduce overpopulation, and keeping the shelter warm and safe this winter,” said Free.