Piglet’s story begins like too many others: the small three-year-old tabby cat was surrendered to a city shelter in poor condition. She was scared and alone, but not much else was known about how she came to be that way or what had happened. But one thing was certain: the young cat needed help and care right away.
After Piglet arrived at the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH), she spent a month getting the treatment and care she so desperately needed. Fortunately, the veterinary team was able to help Piglet, and she was soon placed in the ASPCA Adoption Center in the hopes of finding her the perfect home.
In her time short time at the Adoption Center, Piglet’s playful and affectionate personality began to show—though deemed to be shy at first, the little cat became quite the goofball. It was, eventually, that same sense of silliness that attracted Melissa Y. and her boyfriend Michael to Piglet as they scanned the Adoption Center in June of 2016. The couple had been considering adopting for some time, and after a friend recommended the ASPCA Adoption Center, Melissa and Michael were finally ready to take the leap into becoming pet parents.
On their first visit to the Adoption Center, the pair went later in the day, unsure of whether they would find “the right one” on the first try. As they filled out their paperwork, Melissa noticed something, or someone, looking at her from a distance. “We saw this curious cat staring at us...and then she promptly threw up her food,” Melissa tells us about when she first saw Piglet. “It was hilarious, and kind of sweet.” Michael even went on to joke that they could adopt any cat, except that one. But, there was something about goofy Piglet that the couple couldn’t deny.
“The next time we came, we were still drawn to her. She has an inquisitive, hundred-yard stare and was just so sweet,” says Melissa. They decided then that Piglet was in fact the cat they’d been looking for, and the trio then became a family.
When the couple first brought Piglet home, they assumed that she would take her time to adjust. However, after the first night with her, the couple awoke to find her sleeping in between their pillows. Piglet made herself right at home.
Now comfortable with her family, Piglet enjoys napping in her favorite window ledge and begging for human treats when she hears someone in the kitchen. Melissa kept Piglet’s name after seeing her love for food, and refers to her as her “cat-dog.” She feels like she acts more like a dog than a feline at times.
Melissa and Michael found that special connection that you can only find with the perfect pet, and their family has never been happier.
Last August, the ASPCA and the NYPD rescued Thelma from unspeakable cruelty in Brooklyn, New York. At nine years old, the Soft-Coated Wheaten terrier was underweight, undernourished and in fragile mental condition. Not only was she incredibly fearful around people, but she was also suffering from mammary tumors and dental pain resulting from neglect. At the ASPCA Animal Hospital, Thelma underwent an operation to remove the masses—which were fortunately benign—and had to have 12 teeth extracted. She remained in the hospital for nearly two months.
By late September, Thelma had recovered enough to be transferred to the ASPCA Adoption Center to begin her search for a home. We worried that given her age and anxiety, the shy senior dog would have a difficult time finding an adopter. The poor girl had already suffered so much, and we wanted nothing more than for her to wind up in a happy, loving home. Thankfully, we soon met Rachel and Sam.
Rachel and Sam are both avid dog-lovers who grew up with pets. After moving in together last year, the couple quickly decided that it was time for a dog of their own. “We knew how greatly our quality of life would be improved with a canine addition,” Rachel says. She began searching on the Internet, and that’s when she came across Thelma’s photo and bio in the “Adopt a Pet” section of the ASPCA website. “I instantly thought she would be a good fit.”
At the Adoption Center, Rachel says that they were immediately smitten with Thelma. “She was very mellow and sweet,” she recalls. “We knew that she had come from a tough situation, and loved the idea of providing her with a comfortable environment to grow old in.” The couple was also moved by Thelma’s “expressive face” and felt that there was something special about her. “Once we met her, we couldn’t imagine not having her,” Rachel says.
So it was official: On September 24, after a lifetime of waiting, Thelma was finally going home.
Rachel admits that it took a bit of time for Thelma to adjust to her new life. Given her history, this came as no surprise, but the situation was exacerbated by the fact that Thelma was still on medication from her dental work. “It was a lot of change at once,” Rachel remembers. “We could tell she just wasn’t feeling very good. But as she learned that she was now in a place where she would be fed every day, cared for consistently and loved unconditionally, she showed facets of her personality we had no idea even existed.” As it turns out, there was a playful, goofy dog just beneath Thelma’s shy exterior!
As time went on, Thelma continued to grow by leaps and bounds. Rachel says that she even goes on short runs with Sam, and that when they come home from work, “she literally busts down the door and runs laps back and forth down our building’s hallway.” Now when approached, Thelma wags her fluffy tail, and its rhythmic sound has earned her the nickname “Thumper.”
It’s amazing what a difference a loving family can make, and we hope that Thelma’s story inspires others to open up their heart and home to an older pet. Rachel says, “We know that since Thelma is an older girl, we will not have as much time with her as we would if we had adopted a puppy or young adult. However, she is the perfect fit for us, and it is our hope that we provide her with so many good memories that eventually they are all she remembers.” We’re pretty positive that for this once-neglected dog, Rachel and Sam’s love is the highlight of a lifetime.
THANK YOU! Your support through GlobalGiving has raised over 28 thousand dollars to help shelter pets like Thelma. Our lifesaving work would be impossible without the generosity of friends like you!
When Dean read a recent ASPCA News Alert about a puppy mill raid in Clewiston, Florida, something about the accompanying photo of a frightened dog being carried to safety by ASPCA responder Sharon Wirant tugged at his heartstrings.
“His face really grabbed me—and how he was being held,” Dean remembers. “I said to myself, ‘I’ve got to find out where that dog is; that dog’s coming home with me.’ It was just something I had to do.”
Dean contacted the ASPCA via phone and email, eventually learning the identity of the dog. He is Kody, a seven-year-old Pomeranian.
Kody was one of more than 100 dogs rescued by the ASPCA, in conjunction with the Hendry County Sheriff's Office, during last November's raid. The dogs—spanning large and small breeds from Siberian huskies to Chihuahuas—were found living in crowded, filthy conditions, and were being bred to sell to pet stores in the Miami-Dade area. Some suffered from various medical conditions; Kody had dental disease, intestinal parasites and an ear infection.
“We’ve adopted rescued animals since the late 1980s,” says Dean, who lives in Smithville, Tennessee, with his wife, Heather. “Over the past three years we even adopted senior dogs from as far away as Utah and Virginia. Some were older and didn’t live much longer after we adopted them, so my wife said she just didn’t want to do it again because it hurts too much to lose them.”
But Dean wouldn’t take no for an answer. He printed Kody’s photo and put it next to their coffee pot, with a sign that read, “Can I come live at your house?”
Heather finally said yes.
Thanks to efforts of the ASPCA’s Legal Advocacy team, which worked closely with counsel for local law enforcement, custody of the rescued dogs was resolved early in the case so they could be transferred to rescue partners for adoption. Less than a week later, Dean and Heather tracked down Kody at the Humane Society of Broward County in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
The next step was planning the 850-mile drive to adopt him.
After a thirteen hour journey, Dean and his family arrived home on December 23 with Kody in tow. They carefully introduced him to their 11-year-old Sheltie named Kinsey, with both dogs on a leash. “They smelled each other and have since become fast friends,” says Dean, who notes that Kody “broke out of his shell pretty quick.”
Dean adds that Kody is good with kids, including the couple’s three grandchildren who range in age from 9 to 16. Over Christmas, he got used to a full house and “figured out how to beg.” But like most dogs from puppy mills, he was indifferent toward toys and is still not quite housebroken.
At night, Kody slumbers in a laundry basket filled with blankets.
“We didn’t want to crate him, or put him in anything that looked like a cage,” Dean explains, referring to Kody’s traumatic past. “Sometimes, he even sleeps with us.”
“Kody and the other dogs rescued with him had never been pets and now, for the first time, they are finding out what a safe and loving home feels like,” says Jessica Rushin, Senior Partnerships Manager for the ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response team. “Kody got the second chance of a lifetime.”
Kody can be full of energy, according to Dean, and loves his new-found joy of running. “It’s the most exercise he’s had in his life.”
THANK YOU! Your support through GlobalGiving has raised over 27 thousand dollars to help shelter pets like Kody. Our lifesaving work would be impossible without the generosity of friends like you!
At the ASPCA Gloria Gurney Canine Annex for Recovery and Enrichment (CARE), which houses dogs seized by the NYPD as part of animal cruelty investigations, a two-year-old pit bull named Hercules acts as a helper pup to other dogs in need. Hercules is one of six helper dogs at the ASPCA.
A former cruelty victim, Hercules was severely underweight and covered with multiple ulcers and wounds when he arrived at the ASPCA in March. Named by staff for his fortitude, Hercules is a heroic guide for other dogs at the ASPCA who are fearful and severely under-socialized.
“Using a helper dog is often much more effective and efficient than if we try to bring a fearful dog out of its shell all by ourselves,” says Victoria Wells, ASPCA Senior Manager of Behavior and Training. “It’s a huge leap instead of a baby step when you can pair a fearful or under-socialized dog with one who is more outgoing.”
Hercules has helped more than six dogs overcome their fear and poor social skills, while helping others build confidence and be less timid. Helper dogs like Hercules should be comfortable around other dogs, though not exuberant or overly rambunctious.
The extent of the helper animal’s role depends largely on the behavior of the dog in need. “For a dog who is shut down or catatonic, we’ll expose him to a neutral dog,” says Victoria. “This allows the fearful dog to relax or engage in the company of a being that can better communicate with him than we can.”
A helper dog may inspire another dog to walk around a room or down a hallway. “He may also coax a dog to go outdoors, which some are terrified of. But they’ll go if they can follow a helper dog,” says Victoria.
When a blind German Shepherd named Wiley arrived at the ASPCA, he was so fearful that he refused to move. The ASPCA Behavior team utilized a helper dog to guide Wiley out of his shell.
“We had to carry Wiley out of his kennel into the training room, and then back into his kennel,” she remembers. “The only thing that piqued his interest was when he heard another dog bark. So we brought in a puppy and noticed that when the puppy approached Wiley and sniffed him, Wiley would respond. Soon Wiley started interacting with people, then walking and playing, and his behavior turned around completely.”
Crimson, a six-year-old, blind shepherd mix rescued by NYPD officers, showed an interest in another dog’s pups at CARE and was soon designated as a helper dog to assist with their socialization.
“Crimson was vaccinated and mellow—and the puppies weren’t overpowering or too rambunctious,” says Kris Lindsay, Technical Operations Manager. “They boosted Crimson’s confidence and helped him navigate, and the pups benefitted because they needed to meet other dogs. It also gave their mother a break.”
As our helper dogs go on to find loving homes, the results of their heroic efforts will be felt in the many animals whose lives they touched.
Animal hoarding is a complex animal welfare issue that can involve mental health and public safety concerns. Hoarding occurs when an individual has more animals than they can adequately care for, and in some cases—like that of kittens Hilary and Wendy—it can lead to some serious physical impairments. But old wounds weren’t enough to dampen these sweet cats’ spirits, and the bonded duo was eager to find a loving home where they could stay together. It took nearly a year, but they finally got the Happy Tail they were waiting for. Here is their story.
Hilary and Wendy came from an apartment with 14 cats and two dogs. The dogs lived in a partially-finished basement, while most of the cats lived outside and slept on and around the owner’s front steps. None of the cats were spayed or neutered, many were in poor health and some, including Hilary, had upper respiratory infections.
After their rescue in July 2014, Hilary and Wendy were taken to the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH) for further examination and treatment. It was there that we discovered the full depth of their suffering: In addition to stunted growth, both Wendy and Hilary were diagnosed with severe eye issues. Hilary, who is four months older, was nearly blind and, in addition to the aforementioned respiratory infection, arrived with an ear infection and chronic rhinitis. Wendy, who appears to have no eyes, actually does, but they are congenitally small, a result of the conditions in which she was born. She is blind.
Despite their hardships, the kitties had developed loving, distinct personalities. “Hilary’s like the big sister and Wendy is the little sister,” said Liliana Gomez, a Veterinary Technician who cared for the duo. “Hilary’s the leader, Wendy’s the follower. But they’re both very affectionate.”
William Rivera, an Animal Care Technician, remembers working at AAH the day that Hilary and Wendy arrived. “Hilary was sneezing blood,” he said. “But I’ve been in love with her since day one. They are the perfect combination: One’s spunky, the other’s laid back. They just feed off each other and love being together.”
Hilary and Wendy remained at AAH for eight months before they were ready to move into our Adoption Center in March 2015. For two more months, they waited and waited for the perfect adopter until finally, in May, they met an ASPCA volunteer named Elizabeth.
“I grew up with cats and my mother fostered cats throughout my childhood,” says Elizabeth, who volunteers as a cat socializer whenever her work schedule allows. “When I met Hilary and Wendy, I knew they were special. They immediately struck me as sweet and easy-going cats. I had a good feeling that they’d be happy in my home.” On May 2, she adopted them and changed their names to Pepa and Lola.
Pepa and Lola settled right into Elizabeth’s home, and it didn’t take long before their trademark personalities began to shine. “They seemed very comfortable on their first day,” Elizabeth reported, “especially Pepa—who likes to roll around on my blankets and have her belly rubbed.” After exploring every inch of the apartment, the cats were clearly in their happy place. “Within a day or two they were already able to hop onto my bed, despite their vision loss. I was really proud of them when the accomplished it the first time,” she says.
And Pepa and Lola are definitely enjoying living the good life. Elizabeth adds, “They love frolicking around the living room and dashing from one side to the other. They are both early risers, and so far I haven’t overslept my alarm once thanks to them!” she laughs. And it seems like the cats are also enjoying the safety and security of a stable, loving home—“Tonight we are watching old “Frasier” episodes on Netflix,” Elizabeth says with a smile.
From playful games to snuggly TV sessions, Pepa and Lola are a long way from their painful past. We are so thrilled that these kitties have found the perfect home together, and, despite their vision loss, we know they’ve got nothing but a bright future ahead.
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