Mar 10, 2021

From Separate Beginnings to One Happy Family

For longtime animal lover Yasmine A., having pets around the house is a must. Which is why she decided to become a foster caregiver for the ASPCA in 2019. Every animal that came through Yasmine’s door was special to her, but there was something extra special about Kibbeh and Rupert.

Kibbeh’s Story

 Kibbeh, a one-year-old black and white cat, was Yasmine’s fourth foster animal through the ASPCA.

Kibbeh came to the ASPCA as a stray in 2019. After a few medical exams, it was determined that Kibbeh was born with multiple congenital changes in his right eye causing him both discomfort and blindness. In order to take away the pain he was in, the decision was made to remove his right eye. On top of this, the veterinarian noticed that he had an eye condition in his left eye in which part of his eyelid did not completely form as well as abnormally directed hairs by his eyelid which caused irritation. To correct both of these, Kibbeh underwent surgery.

While Kibbeh was recovering from his surgeries, he was placed with a foster caregiver, Yasmine, until he could be placed with an adopter.

 During his foster period, Kibbeh and Yasmine had gotten along so well, Yasmine knew she had to adopt him. Yasmine and her partner David’s previous cat, a 19-year-old named Hamilton, passed away a few years ago, and they finally felt ready to adopt a new furry friend.

Sometimes there are animals you click with from the moment you meet them. For Yasmine, Kibbeh was one of those animals.

“[Kibbeh] took to us immediately when we were fostering him during multiple eye surgeries and throughout his healing process,” says Yasmine. “He has taught us about resiliency and trust.”

In February of 2020, Yasmine made it official and adopted Kibbeh.

 “He is very trusting of humans,” says Yasmine, who attributes his friendly nature to the care he got at the ASPCA while battling his medical issues. “While he only has one eye now, he is full of energy, loves the outdoors (always on a leash) and watching birds eat at the bird feeder through the window.”

After Kibbeh settled into his new home, Yasmine continued to foster and soon met a foster dog that touched her heart like Kibbeh did.

Rupert’s Story

 Rupert, like many of the animals we care for at the ASPCA, didn’t have the easiest life before he came to us. After being surrendered to the ASPCA Adoption Center, Rupert was briefly adopted but then returned.. Unfortunately, due to some behavioral issues, including separation anxiety, Rupert became a bit harder to place than some of the other animals at the Adoption Center. In fact, he became one of our long stay animals as he spent four months looking for an adopter.

While waiting to find the right fit, Rupert was able to live with a foster caregiver who could help him feel comfortable living in a home and work on being the best version of himself.

This wonderful foster who would change Rupert’s life, as you may have guessed, was Yasmine.

“We decided to foster a dog during COVID since we were working from home,” Yasmine explains. “We weren’t sure if we had the capacity or energy to adopt a dog and thought fostering would help us know if we were ready to adopt.”

 During their time together, which ended up being close to four months, Yasmine and Rupert grew close. Rupert also made amazing progress with his separation anxiety, something he’d been previously struggling with.

“When we saw how much progress he was making in such a short amount of time, it was hard to give him up.”

However, Yasmine still felt unsure about if she was ready to take on Rupert’s separation anxiety issues completely. But she tells us that with the support of the ASPCA team, Rupert came a long way, and that once he was more settled in their home, they could see what a great dog he is.

Knowing that Rupert and Kibbeh got along, their fate was sealed. What Yasmine once believed to be a temporary situation, became a home for Rupert. Yasmine officially adopted him in November of 2020.

Two is Better Than One

Since becoming a family, Rupert and Kibbeh have adjusted to their new lives together. According to Yasmine, the two have gotten more and more comfortable with each other with each passing day. Rupert has started to allow Kibbeh to sit by his food bowl and Kibbeh has begun to allow Rupert to sniff him more often. They have their own, self-assigned sleeping spots as they do not yet cuddle, but it’s looking as though they may get comfortable enough with each other to do so eventually. In fact, Rupert loves to “borrow” Kibbeh’s toys!

“Kibbeh loves the backyard and meeting the neighbors. Rupert loves (most) of the dogs that he meets on his daily walks in the neighborhood and is a bit of a celebrity since he carries his stuffed car—given to him by the ASPCA—with him on all of his walks.”

 Since finding not one but two foster fortunes and adopting Kibbeh and Rupert, Yasmine has also learned to appreciate her neighborhood more as she now gets to interact with people she normally wouldn’t.

“It’s not only people who walk their dogs, but people who want to meet Rupert and learn about his stuffed car!”

Harder to place animals like Kibbeh and Rupert are just looking for someone to give them the love they deserve. It is thanks to loving fosters and adopters, like Yasmine, that make second chances for animals like these possible.

Nov 11, 2020

A Second Chance for Soba

Second chances happen every day at the ASPCA—cruelty victims become beloved family pets, homeless animals settle into new digs, and so many are finally given the love they deserve. Rescue dogs are so much more than their pasts or their breed, and we are so fortunate to be able to make so many happy endings possible for deserving animals.

“Adoption is about gaining trust and loving them,” says Byron M., a recent ASPCA adopter. “From my limited experience there are all different types of rescue animals, and they make very loyal and great pets. It’s not so much about the breed as it is about personalities matching.”

For Byron, the experience of adopting a rescued pit bull-mix has been rewarding to say the least. And for his gal Soba, her second chance was a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet her perfect family.

From Difficult Beginnings

Last October we met Soba, a dog who was truly ready to start over after being brought to the ASPCA alongside 27 other dogs in relation to suspected dogfighting. Following the rescue, we provided medical care and sheltering for the dogs, whose journeys had only just begun, while the criminal investigation continued.

Upon intake, Soba showed that she was a social, friendly gal, though she remained shy and fearful of new situations or experiences. For dogfighting victims and animals who come from suspected cruelty, this type of behavior isn’t uncommon since their experience with the outside world may be limited. Though Soba had some fears to overcome, we never doubted that the right adopter would come along and show her that the real world isn’t such a scary place, and that the love and care of a family could make all the difference.

Byron M. and his wife lost their dog of 12 years in early February. While grieving this loss, Byron felt that they didn’t have the time to bring a new dog into their family given his work schedule. But then, the pandemic hit NYC, changing everything for millions of us. With he and his wife suddenly experiencing more time at home, Byron decided they should visit the ASPCA Adoption Center and find a new furry friend.

Byron tells us that he initially had his eye on another adoptable dog, but soon found himself charmed by Soba. “We decided on Soba because she was the most active and had a ‘take me home face’,” he explains. “She was the only dog not laying there watching people. She had her tail wagging when I walked by, and when we did the meet-and-greet she came and said hi to me and my wife—that’s when I knew we would take her.”

Byron and his wife officially adopted Soba in March, but their journey to becoming a family didn’t stop there.

Adjusting to Life Outside of the Shelter

Though they knew initially that Soba would take some time to warm up, following her adoption, Byron soon discovered just how scary new things were to Soba. “When we went to leave, she did not like the sliding doors,” Byron says. “That was my first clue she might have some life to experience.”

And after going home with her new family, Soba began to experience lots of new things that life had to offer. Fortunately, Byron was by her side every step of the way to help her overcome her fears and gain her confidence in her new home.

“She was afraid of entering new buildings, apartments, elevators and cars, but little by little she trusted us and started to get rid of those fears,” he tells us. “We used to live in an apartment on the 5th floor and we had to take the stairs until she got comfortable using the elevator, it took a little while but eventually she was fine to ride the elevator. Same case with the car—her first ride was awful. She shook the whole trip and couldn’t relax, but now she can’t wait for a car ride because she knows it is an adventure every time.”

Byron and his wife worked with Soba every day, little by little, to help Soba blossom into the happy dog she is today. Byron also adds that as her fears started to leave her, Soba’s confidence and trust in herself grew as well. She has traveled the East Coast with her pet parents, from Maine to Georgia, and also to Wisconsin and Oklahoma.

Loving Soba for Who She Is

Soba’s life now is full of quality time with her pet parents, trips to the dog park, camping trips and adventures! Byron and his wife dote on her and feel lucky to have her as a part of their family.

“She’s just enjoying life,” Byron says. “We camp a lot and she enjoys to hike with us. We also recently moved to Jersey City and our neighborhood has a beautiful dog park.”

Far from her beginnings, Soba proves that love, patience and understanding go a long way. Her second chance at the life she deserves is one that we hope to see for many more dogs like her.

 “Soba is an awesome dog, We couldn’t have asked for a better dog,” Byron says. “Her transformation has been huge.”





Jul 14, 2020

Miami Resident Becomes Instant Puppy Rescuer

Leonard “Leo” Shelton of Liberty City, Florida, tried for weeks to round up a neighborhood stray dog.

“She would never come to me,” Leo says of the large terrier mix he called Sheila. “She looked pregnant, tired and worn out. But I knew I had to find a way to bring her home and help her.”

Leo, who moved from Philadelphia to Miami in 2004, lives just minutes from the ASPCA’s new Community Veterinary Center (CVC) which opened last November in Liberty City. When he finally caught Sheila, Leo made appointment for an exam there on February 18.

Sheila was rescued by Leo just days before giving birth to 11 puppies.

Dr. Hyunmin Kim treated Sheila for fleas, confirmed her advanced pregnancy, supplied a leash and a collar and—most valuable to Leo—provided helpful advice about Sheila’s impending delivery.

Early the next morning, Sheila delivered 11 healthy puppies in Leo’s one-bedroom apartment. In just five hours, his family of canines—including his Lab mix named Buddy—went from two to 13. 

Helping Leo and Sheila

A day after the pups were born, the ASPCA Community Engagement team, including Marlan Roberts, Manager, and Cassie Vazquez, Coordinator, visited Leo’s home to check on Sheila and the pups and provide food for the nursing mother.

“Leo really wanted to do what’s best for them,” says Marlan. “Even through these challenging circumstances, he persevered.”

The Miami team planned to give the pups their first set of shots on April 5—when they would be seven weeks old.

Because he doesn’t have a car, Leo borrowed a shopping buggy and placed the pups in a tub that fit snugly into the cart. All 11—Apollo, Boss, EJ, Junior, Liberty, Mini-me, Nikita, Pebbles, Ringo, Saint Ben and Sweetie—were examined, weighed and vaccinated.

Leo visited the ASPCA’s food distribution center in Miami several times during the pandemic for pet supplies.

“The entire staff, even security, was extremely friendly and understood my challenges,” recalls Leo. “We all really connected through Sheila.”

“Leo broke down every barrier to get those dogs what they needed,” says Marlan. “He took them on without thinking twice and then found resources. The man is a saint.”

Leo was determined to give Sheila’s puppies the best start at life so they could grow up to be happy and healthy. 

“Leo got those pups off to a great start,” adds Jennifer Klotch, Licensed Veterinary Technician for the ASPCA Miami Community Medicine team. “He made sure Sheila was as healthy as she could be, and he socialized the puppies, even bringing them by in the shopping cart to show them off. He did right by Sheila and took on a lot.”

“He’s one of the most inspiring cases we’ve had, that’s for sure,” says Cassie. “We supported him through all of that and will continue to support him.” 

Feeding Pets During A Pandemic

Providing free pet food in four cities nationwide, including Miami, is one way the ASPCA has supported families with pets during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of July 3, more than 35,241 pets in Miami have received free food, including 17,680 dogs and 17,561 cats. And from April 7 and July 7, the CVC helped 542 clients and 736 pets during 974 CVC visits. 

“There was a need before the pandemic and it’s increased,” says Cassie. “Many families had financial restraints before and have now have lost jobs. Those we’ve served are very grateful.”

Leo made multiple trips to get food for his pack and got Sheila up-to-date on her vaccines.

“The sheer number of dogs was my biggest challenge,” says Leo, who cooked a rich broth for the growing brood. “But I was always all in. It was never a case of, ‘I don’t think I can do this.’”

As the pups grew, Leo admits his thinking evolved.

“I went from, ‘I’m gonna keep them all,’ to, ‘I’ll keep one or two,’ to ‘I want to get them all adopted.’ After three months, even Sheila was ready for them to leave.” 

Finding Homes for 11

Leo promoted the puppies on social media and kept track of their adoptions through regular posts. EJ was adopted first; Apollo last. Two adopters even drove all the way from Brooklyn, New York, to adopt Nikita and Sweetie. They met Leo at the CVC for the pups’ booster shots, flea and tick preventative treatments, and de-wormer. 

His next step is to have Sheila spayed once the CVC gets back to its non-emergency schedule. 

The CVC has been a great resource for pet parents like Leo who love their animals and want to do everything they can to ensure their health and safety. Leo watched the ASPCA’s CVC being built and is forever grateful. 

“I was like, ‘Yes! It’s about time!’ Of all the areas in Miami, it’s a blessing the ASPCA is here,” he tells us. “I don’t know what I would have done without you.”

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