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PSI Names 2020 Pet Adoption Advocate of the Year

The association recognizes Jill Merjeski for her efforts to help feral cats and promote local pet adoptions.

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Jill Merjeski, owner of Jill's Next Door Dog Walking & Pet Services

(PRESS RELEASE) KING, NC — Pet Sitters International (PSI) has named pet-sitting business owner and long-time pet advocate Jill Merjeski PSI’s 2020 Pet Adoption Advocate of the Year. Merjeski, owner of Jill’s Next Door Dog Walking & Pet Services, LLC, in Delray Beach, Florida, devotes countless hours to feeding cat colonies and fostering cats and kittens and also uses her business acumen and online platforms to assist a variety of pet-rescue organizations in her area.

Since 1999, PSI, the world’s largest educational association for professional pet sitters, has promoted pet adoptions through its annual Take Your Dog To Work Day campaign. To further this mission, PSI created the Pet Adoption Advocate of the Year Award in 2012 to honor one PSI member each year who has gone above and beyond to promote local pet adoptions. PSI makes a $500 donation to the animal shelter or pet-rescue group of the recipient’s choice.

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Merjeski has selected Florida’s Forgotten Felines (FFF) to receive the $500 donation in her honor. FFF is a non-profit organization founded by Susan Carmichael that cares for more than 850 cats in 70 colonies in southern Palm Beach County.

“There’s so much spent time, energy, passion, love, and resources involved in volunteering, but it’s all worth it to make a difference to at least one animal in need,” said Merjeski. “I am especially grateful to be a part of the PSI community and the impact we are all making.”

“I’m honored to have this donation to FFF made on my behalf. The organization’s founder is an inspiration to me—dedicating her life to feeding hundreds of registered cat colonies in need every day, providing medical care as needed, and advocating for adoption,” she added.

Merjeski’s support of FFF goes well beyond singing their praises and requesting this donation be made to them. In addition to volunteering to foster cats for the organization, Merjeski also provided her professional services pro bono to build and design an engaging website, redesigned their logo, and took professional photos to include on the website. She also created and now maintains their social media accounts and developed a hiring system listed on multiple platforms to find qualified cat feeders to keep the organization thriving.

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“Jill has been incredibly generous helping me with FFF. I spend seven hours a day cat feeding and do not have resources to make a website for my charity, let alone social media,” Carmichael said. “I’ve seen an improvement in donations since the website and social media has been launched, and I can’t thank Jill enough for dedicating her time out of the kindness of her heart to help me!”

Merjeski remains committed to expanding her cat community outreach. In 2019, she founded Jill’s Next Door Feline Alliance Program (FAP). FAP is a self-funded advocacy and feline adoption program created as an alliance with local pet rescues around Broward and Palm Beach Counties, Florida. FAP has worked with FFF, iHeart Animals, Kitty Karma of Delray, and Animal Rescue Force, among others.

“We are always impressed and inspired by the time and effort PSI members dedicate year-round to promote adoptions and improve the lives of adoptable pets in their communities, in addition to operating their professional pet-care businesses,” said PSI President Beth Stultz-Hairston. “Selecting only one member to receive the 2020 award was no easy task, but Jill’s commitment to not only foster pets but to also use her skills to fundamentally improve the business models of local rescue organizations is noteworthy. It is our pleasure to make this donation to FFF on her behalf.”

To learn more about Merjeski and Jill’s Next Door Dog Walking & Pet Services, LLC, visit www.jillsnextdoor.com. Visit floridasforgottenfelines.org to learn more about FFF. For more information on Pet Sitters International and its Pet Adoption Advocate of the Year Award, visit www.petsit.com.

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