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She's rescued over 1,300 cats. Now, she needs help finding them a new home.

Posted at 6:40 PM, Jan 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-24 09:46:17-05

CHESTER, Va. -- Smitty's Cat Rescue Shelter in Chester has helped over a thousand cats in Central Virginia. However, now this safe haven is in need of a new home.

The friends of Lynne Layton, the owner of the shelter, reached out to CBS 6 with hopes of getting help from the community.

"She’s my hero, she's my role model, she is, I call her the cat angel," said Diana Gayhutchins.

"She’s an incredible animal advocate and an incredible person," said Kim Adams.

The community showed up by the dozens in support of Layton and the shelter.

"She just has a god given love in her whole being for God's little creatures and for people in need as well," said Joyce Purr.

Friends and colleagues said that Layton does much more than just rescue cats. Several community members said Layton's impact reaches far beyond the grounds of the cat sanctuary.

"The amount of stuff that she has given our homeless population is huge," Adams said.

Layton is described by many as a kind and giving soul who touches the hearts and souls of any person or any animal in need.

"Here seven days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day. Anybody who needs me, whether it's a cat or humans," Layton said.

Tucked away just off Route 1 in Chester, the shelter rescues rehomes and rehabilitates homeless cats.

"We have rescued over 1,300 cats. We've homed over 1,000," Layton said.

Open since 2008, Layton has dedicated her life to the shelter since she took over, helping those in need for the past six-and-a-half years.

"This year alone, we’ve rescued 202 kittens," Layton said.

Layton took over the shelter after its founder, Richard Smith or "Smitty", passed away. Now, 15 years later, the property is being sold, forcing Layton and the cats to find a new location by the end of February.

"The property owner was given an offer he could not refuse, which I understand. And so we need to relocate," Layton said.

"She’s always trying to do better and build up for the little animals," said Purr. "I hope that maybe somebody will see this little clip and say, oh you know, we’ve got that little piece of land or we’ve got that little building out there."

Layton's friends said the work she does saves lives and they hope to see it continue at a new location soon.

"I know Lynne has saved lives and I think about that every time I leave this place," Gaycutchins said.

"Cats are kinda just tossed away as garbage and that’s where I come in and do what I do, I love what I do," Layton said. "I'm a little emotional. This is our home for these cats, I’m here every day."

Anyone who is able to provide help can email joi.fultz@wtvr.com. You can also donate directly to the cat rescue through this link.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.