Guest blog by ASPCA Senior Feline Behavior Counselor Katie Watts
Hal is a four-year-old cat who was found on the street, abandoned in a box. His teeth were severely decayed, and he was in extreme pain—so much so that he couldn't groom himself and had become severely matted as a result. After arriving at the shelter, Hal was groomed, all his fur shaved. He also had to have several teeth extracted.
He was soon on the road to recovery, but it was clear that the ordeal had left him traumatized. Hal spent the first week huddled at the back of his cage, curled up in a small ball and barely moving. He was given a quiet space to settle and provided with a box to snuggle in and a "privacy curtain."
Several staff members started trying to make friends, offering him tasty treats and hoping to coax him out of his shell. Slowly but surely, Hal began to warm up. First it was a slight rub on a hand as he was petted, and then he was at the front of his cage, ready with rubs and purrs.
When he was ready, Hal was taken to visit a staff office, where he could be socialized further. From that point, he couldn't get enough attention, and it was clear all Hal wanted was a warm lap and some chin scratches. He was so affectionate toward people that he would even sit at the office door, patiently waiting for a staff member to return, and once she was back, he happily settled on her lap again.
Hal has come a long way and survived a great deal. He now waits patiently, always at the door of his cat condo, ready to jump in a lap at the first opportunity. He even grooms his new friends by licking them as they pet him! All he needs now is a quiet home with somebody who will provide him with the love he so deserves.
Halis available for adoption at the ASPCA Adoption Center. If you are interested in adopting please call our Adoptions department in New York City at (212) 876-7700, ext. 4900. To learn more about Hal, please visit his page.
When ASPCA staffer Rena Lafaille saw a veterinarian cradling a tiny animal in her arms, she wondered, “Is that a turkey? What’s a turkey doing at the ASPCA Adoption Center?”
Then she realized: The tiny animal was in fact a cat—one who had suffered severe chemical burns on her back, scalp and other parts of her body. Kylie’s ears were singed off, and she couldn’t walk or close her red and cloudy eyes.
“My heart was completely broken,” remembers Rena, ASPCA Adoption Center Department Coordinator. “Ever since that moment, I’d go visit her when I was done with my office work, for 30 minutes to an hour.”
Late last year, Kylie was found hiding behind some bushes, quietly suffering, when two dogs sniffed her out while out on a walk. The dogs’ pet parent took the first step toward saving Kylie’s life: He brought her to ASPCA Animal Hospital. But Kylie’s struggle was far from over, and our veterinary staff didn’t know if she’d pull through.
“It was really touch-and-go with Kylie because she’d lost so much skin,” recalls ASPCA veterinarian Dr. Patricia Wagner, who treated Kylie. “We didn’t know if she’d be able to blink, or walk, ever again.”
Kylie needed several surgeries, specialist care and extensive treatment for her injuries. She spent months at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, where everyone fell in love with Kylie and her sweet, patient personality. “Everyone knew who Kylie was,” says Dr. Wagner. “There were so many people here pulling for her. We didn’t want to fail.”
Then one day it was clear to our veterinarians that Kylie’s recovery had turned a corner—she was out of the woods. In fact, Kylie was ready to continue her recovery in a foster home. Rena’s was an obvious choice. Rena began fostering Kylie in February, eagerly taking on the medical regime her new foster kitty required: pain medicine, fish oil and eye drops, all twice a day on a rigid schedule. To protect Kylie’s burns and promote healing, Rena purchased her a T-shirt. When the shirt didn’t quite fit, Kylie had it tailored.
Today, Kylie is an integral part of Rena’s family and fast friends with Lafaille cats Gizmo and Cleopatra, a Beagle called Maya, and Baby Jin, a four-and-a-half-pound Chihuahua who is her playmate and constant companion. Rena continues to work with Dr. Wagner on Kylie’s treatment, and they’re hopeful she won’t need medication one day.
“Kylie will never, ever give up no matter what,” Rena says. “It was her spirit that got her through this. She’s really an incredible cat.”
A disturbing new trend—“pet flipping”—has been getting a lot of attention this week.
Pet flipping involves a criminal picking up a pet, either by stealing the animal or claiming to be the pet parent of a missing pet, and then quickly selling the animal for a profit. Is your blood boiling yet? It gets worse!
According to Time, pet flipping is on the rise in cities including Kansas City, St. Louis and Indianapolis. The stolen dogs are often purebred and very valuable. In March, an Indianapolis man was arrested after a three-month investigation found he had been stealing dogs for years, mostly purebred German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Pit Bulls.
“Many of these pets are housed in puppy mill-like conditions until they can be flipped—no food or water, caged and sick,” Dawn Contos, of Indianapolis Animal Care and Control, said in an interview following the arrest.
It’s hard to understand how someone could beat an animal to death with a rock, and then proudly post a video of the grisly scene online. And yet, that’s exactly what one individual did. On December 3, ASPCA Agents arrested Jordan Heuer for attacking, injuring and causing the death of an opossum in a Queens, New York, park.
After the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) received complaints about a video of the incident posted online, the organization referred the issue to the ASPCA. We opened a criminal investigation.
“This is a disturbing case of violent abuse in which the suspect went out of his way to not only inflict pain on a helpless animal victim by smashing it repeatedly on its head with a rock, but to also record and post the brutal event on the Internet,” says Stacy Wolf, Vice President and Chief Counsel of the ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement and Legal Advocacy departments.
Heuer, 18, was charged with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty—under current New York law, felony animal cruelty charges can be brought only in cases involving companion animals. If convicted, he faces up to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
“This is precisely the sort of case that supports making the more callous acts that cause serious injury or death to wild animals into felony offenses,” Wolf notes, citing the extreme depravity of the opossum’s death.
We couldn’t agree more, and our Government Relations team is on the case. Bill Ketzer, ASPCA Senior Director of Government Relations for the Northeast, adds: “We will continue to work with legislators…to help shape laws to cover these types of especially heinous acts, regardless of whether the animal victim is a pet or a wild animal.”
Animal cruelty can happen anywhere. From hoarding to neglect, animals are placed in dangerous situations every single day. It’s an upsetting fact, but you can help prevent and stop animal cruelty from happening in your neighborhood.
Here are some steps you can take to be an advocate for animals:
Learn how to recognize signs of animal cruelty. There are often warning signs that are indicators that animals are being treated inhumanely. Some are more apparent than others, but by studying this list, you’ll know what to look out for.
Know who to call. Find out who is responsible for investigating and enforcing the anti-cruelty codes in your town, county or state. This might include your local humane organization, animal control agency, taxpayer-funded animal shelter or police precinct.
Provide a detailed report. When reporting animal cruelty, it is best to give a concise statement about what you’ve witnessed or suspect. Include photos if at all possible. Don’t forget to include dates, times, and as many details as you can in your report. Keep copies for your own records and take notes!
Follow up. If you don't receive a response from the officer assigned to your case within a reasonable length of time, don't be afraid to contact his supervisor and, if necessary, local government officials.