To celebrate the end of National Foster Care month, today’s Happy Tail is about a special-needs cat named Miss Pearl whose life was transformed by the ASPCA’s office foster program.
Have you ever heard the expression, “It takes a village to raise a child?” Well, sometimes, it takes a “village” to save an animal, as well! Such was the case with Miss Pearl, a feisty four-year-old cat who came to the ASPCA in August 2013. Pearl has Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), and when we first met her, she also had a host of behavioral problems ranging from anxiety to aggression. We knew from the start that she would be a handful.
When Pearl first arrived at the ASPCA Adoption Center, she was upset. She growled, swatted, and did not take well to being petted down her back. We quickly learned that she was severely cat-aggressive and would redirect on people if she became upset by another cat. Because of her fears and issues, she had to spend much of her time isolated—which made it difficult to work on her socialization skills. But instead of giving up, we grew more determined than ever to help this frisky feline. We decided to enroll her in the ASPCA’s office foster program.
The office foster program is a unique concept that gives special-needs cats a chance to live in the office of one of our team members, allowing the animal to be socialized while receiving lots of extra attention. In November, Helene G., who works in the Licensing Department at the ASPCA, agreed to foster Miss Pearl. The results were amazing.
“Miss Pearl was transformed within two days of being here,” recalls Helene. The extra attention was just what she needed, and in her two-month stay, she won many hearts. Helene says, “Pearl loved being held and stroked and loved getting visitors from all over the office. In fact, a self-described “dog person” in the office fell in love with her and was a frequent visitor!” The foster program worked wonders for Pearl, and by February, she was ready for adoption.
“The day Pearl left was bittersweet for all of us,” Helene says. “Her picture is still my screensaver.” But Helene, along with the rest of the staff, knew that her job was done. In February, Pearl was adopted into a forever home.
We caught up with Pearl’s new mom, Laura, who says that she’s doing really well. Laura renamed her Kiko, and tells us, “I absolutely love having her and couldn’t be happier having her as my little companion.” Though she was rehabilitated through our office foster program, Kiko still maintains much of her friskiness: “She goes crazy for treats, and she’ll hunt me down, follow me everywhere, meow and purr until I give her some! I can’t refuse her antics,” she laughs. But her sweet side shines, too. “When she takes naps, she snores! It’s so adorable.”
From the ASPCA to Helene’s office to Laura’s home, Kiko has touched many lives. She is proof of what can happen when we all work together, and though we miss her presence around the office, we are so proud of all that she has accomplished.
In conjunction with National Foster Care Month, we’d like to highlight the work of our volunteer foster caregivers, who create “a shelter outside of our shelter” in their homes for thousands of animals who are not quite ready for adoption. Foster caregivers provide these animals with the time and attention they need to prepare to find forever homes.
Laurette O. is a dedicated foster caregiver who has volunteered with the ASPCA for the past three years. In that short time, Laurette has cared for an amazing total of 56 dogs and cats.
“I just love being able to help animals by offering them a warm, quiet place to stay while they heal, such as if an older cat needs hospice or a mother cat needs a place to nurse her kittens,” Laurette says. “I also like helping to socialize kittens and young cats to better their chances of finding forever homes sooner. I enjoy spending time with all of them and getting to know their individual personalities.”
We’re so appreciative of volunteers like Laurette for their time and dedication to animals in need. To read more tales from ASPCA foster volunteers, check out our foster stories page.
With three dogs and a cat, Joey T. is known to his friends and family as a “foster failure.” Every time he takes an animal home for “temporary” care, they end up becoming a permanent fixture in his life! Such was the case with Mervin the Chihuahua, a very special special-needs dog who’s made a major splash in Joey’s life—and on social media! Here is their very Happy Tail.
Mervin came to the ASPCA as a stray in November 2013. He was emaciated and had major kneecap damage that required surgery. Beyond that, he was suffering from a very severe dental disease that required full removal of his teeth. Toothless and moving slow, the lil’ guy was having a hard time getting adopted. So Joey T., who works in the ASPCA Adoption Center, agreed to take him in as a foster. With four rescue animals in his home already, Joey says that “most people in my life just kind of said, ‘Here we go again!’” Joey tried to remain strong, but when he brought Mervin back to the Adoption Center and went to put him in his kennel, he simply couldn’t bring himself to do it. Sure enough, he adopted Mervin.
Back at home, Mervin settled in nicely with all the other animals. Though the initial adjustment involved some growls and guarding, Joey says, “After a few days of patience and lots of love, they all now get along great. He and my oldest dog Moose actually cuddle together!”
Though he will be on soft food for the rest of his life, Mervin doesn’t let his past get him down. In fact, he’s become an Instagram star thanks to Joey! He posts pictures of Lil’ Merv as @MervinTheChihuahua, and he currently has over 4,000 followers. It seems that Joey’s not the only one who can’t get enough of this precious pup.
When Mervin is not busy starring on Instagram, Joey says “His favorite thing to do is burrow under the covers, and when we play he likes to nibble my nose—which is fine since he has no teeth! He really has had a big turnaround, and just lives his little life to the fullest. I couldn’t be happier.”
We bet Mervin feels the same way.
Do you have a Happy Tail you’d like to share? Email your story to email@example.com and we might feature it on the blog!
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At the ASPCA, we have nothing but love for the members of our Foster Care Program. These generous, kind-hearted people open their homes to young, sick, or small animals that are not yet ready for permanent placement, and give them love and comfort until they’re ready to move on. So when we heard about Leia, a tiny kitten who won the heart of her foster mom, we had a feeling she was something special. We tracked down Emily H. to find out just how Leia went from temporary resident to full-time family member. Here is their very Happy Tail.
“When I first met Leia, she was so tiny,” recalls Emily. “She was smaller than her littermates, Han Solo and Padme, and she wouldn’t eat.” An expert foster mom, Emily syringe-fed Leia baby food for a week to help her gain some weight and find her appetite. The Force must have been strong back then, as the intimate feeding experience bonded the two in a way that Emily could not deny. “When the other foster kitties went back to the shelter to find their forever homes, I already knew that Leia’s forever home was with us.”
In the year since her adoption, Leia has grown into a perfect pet. Thanks to Emily’s persistence, the teeny kitten mastered the art of eating—in fact, Emily is thinking it might be time to cut back! She is so curious and playful that it’s almost easy to forget how timid and small she once was.
A true testament to the power of fostering, Emily left us with an encouraging message. “Shelters are full of beautiful cats with incredible personalities, and I cannot recommend the foster program enough. Your new best friend might be waiting for you right now at the ASPCA!”