Come to Their Rescue

by ASPCA
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Come to Their Rescue
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“She had been hurt and betrayed by humans previously—as had I. I adopted City so that we could learn and grow together. That's what this journey has been—an immense amount of growth for both of us.”

Imagine seeing a dog pushing herself into the corner of a kennel, trying to make her already-small body as tiny as possible, not wanting anyone to acknowledge her presence. This was once City’s  reality—but fortunately, not for long.

A Scared Start

“Extremely fearful,” was the best way to describe City, a white and brindle mixed breed dog, who’d been taken in by an ASPCA partner shelter in Dekalb County, Georgia. Upon intake, City displayed almost feral behavior and was hardly able to function in an indoor setting—let alone be adopted as a family’s beloved pet.

City couldn’t be walked on leash or even shown to potential adopters because she was constantly hiding under a bed in her kennel. If the bed wasn’t present, she was trembling in a corner—pushing her entire face as far away from sight as possible. 

Being petted by a person was out of the question. She would defecate and try to flee if someone offered a gentle hand. 

City’s behavior was deeply saddening. Although she was already two years old, it appeared she’d never known life in a loving home. In order to help her, the shelter reached out to the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center (BRC) to see if City could be considered for our program. 

City represents the types of dogs that we help at the BRC every day—severely fearful, homeless and in dire need of a second chance. As the only facility of its kind, the BRC was featured in an in-depth Rolling Stone Magazine article highlighting the important and lifesaving work our staff does every day. 

A perfect fit for the BRC, City was welcomed into our program and her journey toward healing finally began. 

Signs of Hope

“My first impression of City was that she was beautiful, but so very frightened of everything around her,” recalls Christine Young, ASPCA Behavior Rehabilitation Specialist and City’s caseworker.

“When she first arrived at the BRC, she would squish herself underneath the bed in her kennel to hide, so it didn’t even look as if there was a dog in her kennel.”

City’s journey would take weeks of treatment with our team of behavior experts. 

“City was definitely one of the more challenging dogs I have worked with at the BRC,” Christine tells us. “She remained very fearful and evasive throughout her early weeks in treatment.”

Our team knew that progress would take time, and slowly they began to learn what types of treatment were most effective for City’s rehabilitation. 

“Having other more confident dogs in her treatments started to show us a tiny spark of her fun and mischievous personality,” says Christine.  

More confident dogs, known as “helper dogs,” provide critical support for fearful dogs in treatment at the BRC. Their presence can significantly reduce stress during sessions, encourage inhibited dogs to explore, and eventually tempt anxious dogs to play. The fearful dogs learn to associate people with access to these canine companions—which can prove a powerful way to speed progress through the program and help fearful dogs’ personalities blossom.  

With the help of our skilled staff and our helper dogs, City’s true self began to emerge. City was learning new things each day, until finally, she was ready to join a family who could help continue to grow and blossom as a pet. 

Getting to Know You

Kierra and her partner Tristan had recently purchased a house and were eager to welcome a companion animal into their lives. When they saw City online, they fell in love with her photo and were touched by her story.  

While City still showed signs of fear during their initial meeting, hope was present for the couple. 

“We knew that City was the dog for us because even though she was fearful, we still connected in a way that we hadn't connected with a dog before,” says Kierra. “We decided to adopt City specifically because we wanted to give her a life full of adventure, hikes, hundreds of toys and treats. We wanted to give her a life we knew she had been missing.”

City’s fear of humans could have been due to past trauma, or—more likely—little, if any, socialization to people. Isolation and neglect can prove as behaviorally damaging as other kinds of abuse. The more Kierra considered City’s past, the more she felt connected to her on a deeper level. 

“She had been hurt and betrayed by humans previously—as had I. I adopted City so that we could learn and grow together. That's what this journey has been—an immense amount of growth for both of us.”

Big City Dreams

With the help of Kierra, Tristan and her new canine brother Tucker, City’s past is long behind her. 

“City has become the biggest lap dog! She sleeps cuddled up with us at night and frequently wakes us up in the middle of the night by pouncing on us to play!” Kierra reports.

Today, City has all she needs in her people—she loves snuggling on the couch, playing tug of war, chewing on toys and getting pets and scratches. 

“I would never have expected this level of growth from such a fearful dog,” Kierra marvels. 

Having known City at her most fearful, Christine is thrilled to receive updates on her progress. “We couldn’t have asked for kinder, more patient people to help her continue to learn and explore her world. She is a lucky girl, and her story motivates and inspires me to continue doing this work.”

City is one of so many animals receiving lifesaving rehabilitation and care at the ASPCA, thanks to our devoted team and caring supporters who make this work possible.“I have nothing but amazing things to say about the ASPCA for saving City and allowing us to give her the best home imaginable,” Kierra tells us. “We are so excited that City was able to join our family—she was the perfect missing piece of the puzzle.”

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Quattro had a bit of a rocky start to life. At just three years old, Quattro, along with three other cats, were removed from their household due to suspected cruelty during a domestic dispute and brought to the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH).

Unlike the other three cats Quattro was brought to the AAH with, Quattro was found to have multiple medical issues. He had a large amount of mucus in his nostrils from an upper respiratory infection, was missing teeth, had a fractured tooth, dental disease, skin scabs on his head and neck and, evident from his x-rays, had multiple healed bone fractures on his left ribs. To manage his infections, Quattro was placed on antibiotics and monitored until they resolved.

Quattro and his fellow housemates remained at our Animal Recovery Center (ARC) so they could be monitored, rest and recover before we could help them find loving homes. After two months, Quattro found a family to call his own with Irina L. and her 14-year-old cat, Sasha.
 

The Road to Finding Quattro

In April 2021, Irina’s 11-year-old Tuxedo cat, Cleopatra, passed away due to cancer, leaving both Irina and Sasha extremely distraught.

“She was a very affectionate, loving pet, and the two of them were life sisters who play-fought all the time but always made up,” Irina tells us.

Five months after Cleo’s passing, Irina felt ready to open her heart again to another cat. She contacted the ASPCA and was sent information about two cats from our Matchmakers, one of which was Quattro.

“I saw a picture of him and he reminded me of Cleo,” Irina remembers. “I liked the description of him, and I decided to go in to meet him.”

Irina visited the ASPCA Adoption Center in Manhattan on September 8 and fell in love with Quattro “right away.”

“He was very affectionate from the start,” Irina says. “I also knew that there had been some kind of an abusive situation and I wanted to help him have a good life going forward. I brought him home a week later.”
 

Learning to be a Good Roommate

According to Irina, bringing Quattro home was “challenging” at first, as Sasha had to get used to having another cat in the home.

“Quattro just wants to play all the time and Sasha is an old lady who wants to rest and be left alone.” 

But, with some time, Sasha has started to tolerate Quattro. Now, they can even be on the bed or couch together. “Albeit separated by a pillow!” Irina adds.

In the beginning Quattro also ate everything in sight, including Sasha’s food. This is a common sign of food insecurity, which many former cruelty victims exhibit. But after a few weeks at home, Quattro realized he would be getting plenty of food and slowed down as he began to feel secure in his new home. 

“Quattro is the most loving, affectionate cat,” Irina says. “He loves to play and has discovered that he can run out into the hallway to get some exercise that way.”

Not only does Quattro love to play, but he also loves to snuggle! At night, he likes to lie across Irina’s chest and stretch out or wrap himself under her neck and purr the night away. He loves getting attention from Irina, her roommate and her kids whenever they are home.

“I love having a new cat in the house and everyone who meets him loves him,” Irina tells us. “My mom and daughter both offered to take him if the two cats didn’t start getting along but I said, ‘No way!’”

That’s because Quattro is right where he should be—part of the trio that has turned into one happy little family!

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Katie P. has fostered many dogs for different animal rescue organizations, but Tessa, a two-year-old pit bull she fostered for the ASPCA, was a unique case.
 
“There was just something about her,” says Katie, who recognized Tessa as highly intelligent, sensitive, and gentle. 
 
Within a week, Katie and her boyfriend Perry decided to adopt Tessa. 
 
“She has so much potential,” Katie says. “And there are such misconceptions about pit bulls. The reality is Tessa is sweet, loving, and loyal.”

Meeting Tessa's Needs

Before she was moved to the ASPCA Adoption Center, Tessa had been at Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) for just over two weeks. 
 
“She was a stray who displayed high levels of fear,” says Rachel Maso, Director of Behavior for the ASPCA Adoption Center. 
 
Specifically, Tessa was afraid of the leash and would lie still on the ground, showing her teeth when presented with the leash. Sometimes, she would also grab the leash so intensely that staff were unable to walk her.

While it’s hard to know what motivates leash grabbing —and it’s likely different for each individual dog —the behavior may help a dog feel more in control of their environment, according to Rachel. 
 
“Often times, this behavior is a result of lack of stimulation or anxiety,” Rachel says. “So, fulfilling a dog’s needs can make a huge difference. If their needs aren’t being met, they find their own ways to comfort themselves. And they don’t always make the best choices.”
 
The ACC Behavior team worked hard with Tessa to help her overcome her issues, and once she started showing social behavior toward people, they were able to walk her. On February 3, staff from the ASPCA Behavior Team met Tessa and transported her to the ASPCA Adoption Center where we hoped we could continue to work with her and help her find the right home.
 Enrichment and Exercise

Rachel’s team set Tessa up in a quiet area of the ASPCA and provided plenty of enrichment while she settled in. 
 
“We gave her lots of healthy chews and puzzle toys to help her burn some of that nervous energy throughout the day,” says Rachel. 

 
Because she didn’t thrive in playgroups with other dogs, Tessa received multiple exercise and training sessions each day with the Adoption Center’s Integrated Care Assistants (ICAs) and Behavior Specialists.
 
“She learned to control her impulses by playing fetch, how to make eye contact when her name was called and how to leave and drop items from her mouth,” says Rachel.
 
While walking Tessa short distances on a chain leash (to deter her from biting it), staff offered her treats for walking without biting or looking at the leash. 
 
“As the weeks went by, we progressed to longer walks on a regular leash, and provided a treat only a few times per walk, like when something made her feel a little anxious,” explains Rachel. “We wanted to be sure her new behaviors would stick and that an adopter was prepared to support her when she had moments that triggered the old behaviors.”

Staff from the Adoption Center with a range of skill sets practiced walking Tessa with guidance from the Behavior Team, and Tessa’s progress impressed everyone. After her entry into the Adoption Center, Tessa met Katie and Perry

Reinforcing Better Behavior

Katie and Perry have experience dealing with multiple breeds as well as behavior issues like insecurity and aggression.
 
At their first in-person meeting, behavior specialists showed Katie how to walk Tessa and when to reward her. 
 
“Katie helped transition Tessa’s new behaviors into a home environment and reinforced them in real world scenarios,” Rachel says. “We knew it was a good sign when she asked to take Tessa hiking after just a few days.”
 
 Katie and Perry officially adopted Tessa on April 12, knowing the ASPCA Behavior Team would continue to support them if they had any challenges.

 

“She’s intelligent and food motivated; it only takes her two tries to remember a trick or command,” says Katie, who corrects Tessa’s leash grabbing in a positive way. 
 
“If she tugs, we make her sit and look at us for a treat or praise,” Katie says. “We hold her leash in a way that she can’t pull or bite it.”
 
At home, Tessa is sensitive to her surroundings.
 
“One time I overcooked something by accident and she alerted me that something was on fire,” Katie says. 
 
Tessa loves football, frisbees and her flirt pole, an interactive training toy, according to Katie, who has also employed a trainer and enrolled Tessa in sports agility classes. “Both mental and physical exercises are so important. She’s gifted in finding things.”
 Advancing to Ambassador

Katie and Perry love having a pit bull as a pet, though they’ve experienced first-hand the misconceptions about the breed. The couple live in a quiet New Jersey neighborhood near parks and green space—and lots of other dogs.
 
“Sometimes people are afraid of dogs like her—with their boxy heads and muscular bodies—even though she’s so sweet and gentle,” says Katie. “We’ve shared her story with everyone, and she has a great reputation in our community. Everyone knows her now. She’s come a long way.”

Rachel says the stigma placed on pit bulls means they often languish in shelters and have increased chances of developing behavioral challenges.
 
But Tessa, now re-named Harley, has become a positive ambassador for her breed. 
 
“She educates people that pit bulls are wonderful dogs and pets,” Katie says. “When people say they’re considering adopting one, it’s really warming to hear.”

Adds Rachel, “Tessa was such a misunderstood sweetheart. Adopting a pit bull is an opportunity to enrich your life and save theirs. I’ll always have a very special place for Tessa in my heart.”

 

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Rachel first discovered world-renowned horse trainer, Monty Roberts, after purchasing an unhandled and spirited young filly named Ruby. Monty’s books and videos became an invaluable tool for instructing the family on how to work with their new equine, and Ruby blossomed under his training methods and the family’s dedication to using them. Ruby soon became a beloved friend and a trustworthy mount and when she passed away, a gaping hole was left in Rachel’s life. Rachel questioned if she wanted to bring another horse into her home. Her children were now grown up, and she doubted she could ever love a horse like she’d loved Ruby.

But as fate would have it, Monty Roberts would once again help Rachel connect with her Right Horse.

Monty Roberts’ Transitional Training Program

Training is critical to getting horses adopted. An untrained horse has a limited number of adopters who can safely handle them. A well-trained horse has the potential to be the perfect match for a larger pool of adopters, increasing the chances of him or her finding a loving home.. If a shelter lacks access to training, this can lead to a stable full of horses waiting to be adopted and prevent the shelter from being able to help additional at-risk horses in the community.

Monty Roberts is recognized globally for his skill in training and helping riders around the world develop trust-based partnerships with their horses. As a longtime partner of our equine adoption program, The Right Horse Initiative, Monty and his team stepped forward with a creative new way to use their talents to help horses and bring visibility to adoptable equines.

Every few months, adoptable horses in need of specialized training to prepare them for adoption, travel to Monty’s farm, a beautiful training facility in California’s Central Coast. Monty and his trainers dedicate daily time to working with the horses, providing them with valuable skills that help assure they are great matches to a wider swath of prospective horse owners. Monty’s team concurrently promotes the horses on their channels.

Bringing the Pieces Together

Rachel, still heartbroken over the loss of Ruby, learned about Monty’s new training program and was curious if the program had any horses that might be a fit for her“When I saw a Thoroughbred mare with such a kind eye listed online on Monty's adoption page–with the prediction that she would make an excellent kid's horse–I was intrigued,” remembers Rachel. “She was five but had never been started. That meant her only training was with Monty Roberts' methods–a huge plus for me! I figured that by the time my granddaughter was ready to ride, this horse would be ready for her.”

Once her decision had been mostly made, Rachel hooked up her trailer and made the long drive from Arizona to California to meet Willow. The drive gave Rachel plenty of time to second guess her choice to add another horse to her family, but when she met Willow, she knew it was meant to be.

“When I met Willow and rode her, I knew we would get along just fine. Monty's staff had done a wonderful job with this big baby. The day I picked her up, I walked over to the horse trailer, and she hopped right in for the drive back to Arizona,” recalls Rachel.

Soon after, Rachel and Willow were traversing the trails of Arizona and building their bond. Monty helped Rachel and her family learn how to connect with their first horse, Ruby. Now, Monty has served as the physical connection that brought Rachel her next #RightHorse.

Adoption is a Great Option

 Equine adoption is not as well-known as the adoption of dogs and cats. Rachel, for example, had adopted dogs before but had never considered adopting a horse. Through innovative programs and partnerships, like Monty Robert’s training program, we’re working to make equine adoption a more common way to acquire a horse—a method that will in turn, help save more lives.

Rachel wasn’t sure what to expect when she first inquired about adopting Willow. Now, she knows not only what great horses there are available for adoption, she understands just how important equine adoption is to helping horses in need.

“There are many horses in need of adoption! Willow was seized, along with 47 others, from a breeder who had 150 Thoroughbreds at his facility,” Rachel explains. “The ASPCA’s Right Horse Initiative is a fantastic way of matching horses in need of a home with the perfect person.”

And that’s truly what equine adoption, and our program is all about: bringing visibility to vulnerable horses in search of adoptive homes and connecting good people to good horses.

If you’re feeling inspired to find a #RightHorse of your own, visit our equine adoption portal myrighthorse.org to browse hundreds of adoptable horses nationwide.

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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.

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Location: New York - USA
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