Not only is October Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, but it also marks the grand opening of the ASPCA’s new CARE Ward. This ward was created specifically to house and care for canine victims of cruelty brought in through our partnership with the New York City Police Department, and in honor of this momentous occasion, we want to share the Happy Tail of Atlas, a pit bull rescued from horrific abuse. Atlas is living proof of the resilience of animals, and his story serves as an inspiring reminder that an animal rescued from cruelty could soon become your next best friend.
Atlas was rescued by the NYPD at the end of May. The two-year-old pit bull had suffered terrible cruelty at the hands of an abuser in the Bronx, New York, and was brought to the ASPCA Animal Hospital for treatment. He spent nearly a month in the Hospital, during which time he also received a neuter operation, but he never once lost his sunny-sweet disposition. Staff noted that Atlas “loves every person he meets and loves to be pet”—and with his painful past behind him, he was soon ready to begin his search for a loving home.
At the ASPCA Adoption Center, Atlas’s sweet face helped him get the attention of Tricia R., also of the Bronx. “I decided to adopt a dog because I really missed having dogs around like I had growing up,” Tricia tells us. She had just finished school and finally had the time and resources to care for a pup of her own.
Tricia had been to the ASPCA Adoption Center once before to tour the facilities and “get all the paperwork out of the way,” though she first spotted Atlas on the ASPCA website. “He showed up online with a blurb about how smart and eager to please he was, and I knew he was the one,” she recalls. “I went to the Adoption Center the next day to meet him and it was love at first sight!”
After making the adoption official, Tricia reported that Atlas “adjusted to life at home with lightening speed,” and that he and his feline brother Gus love to play together. Atlas loves spending time with Tricia, whether it’s hanging out at home or romping through the nearby park, and he is also fond of making canine friends.
As if surviving abuse weren’t achievement enough, Atlas has more big plans for his future: In December, when he and Tricia pass their six-month-mark together, he will officially begin training to become a therapy dog. Not only will this special pooch bring joy to his new adopter, but he’ll spread so much happiness to others as well—and prove once more that, no matter how dark the past, every single animal deserves a bright future.
Precious the cat was accustomed to change. In the span of two years, she moved from the local city shelter to the ASPCA, then into a home and back again. The three-year-old long-haired tabby just couldn’t find the perfect fit, until she met an adopter named Carmen, who, like her, was ready for long term love. Here is their Happy Tail.
Precious first came to the ASPCA in March 2014, in a group of eight cats that were transferred from the local city shelter. All eight cats—including Precious—were adopted quickly, and we were thrilled for their success. But one year later, Precious’ adopter was forced to return the pretty kitty because he was moving to a place that did not allow pets. Once again, Precious had a new address and was back to searching for a permanent home.
Meanwhile, Carmen had just moved to New York and was living on her own. Still mourning the loss of her 15-year-old Pomeranian, she decided that it was time to adopt her first feline companion, so she headed to the ASPCA Adoption Center. “I am also adopted, and I told myself that I always wanted to adopt a pet one day,” she says. She decided that she wanted an adult cat, and when she met Precious it was love at first sight.
“I will never forget the day I met her and looked at her beautiful eyes,” Carmen recalls. “Then I noticed her long fur coat that reminded me of my Pomeranian!” Carmen mentioned that brushing her Pomeranian’s coat had been valuable bonding time, so she was thrilled to see that Precious “needed lots of maintenance” as well. “I knew she was a sweet cat after just petting her, and I knew right on the spot that she was going to come home with me,” she says.
Carmen adopted Precious on July 8 and changed her name to Pluma. Although Pluma had been shy at the Adoption Center, she settled into Carmen’s home with ease. “The minute I let her out of her carrier she looked around my house, ran into my boyfriend’s lap and wanted to cuddle,” Carmen recalls. “I’ll never forget that after a couple of days, Pluma came into my lap and put her nose up to mine and gave me a cat kiss. She made a meowing sound and gave me a look like she was saying, ‘Thank you! I’m finally home!’”
Now Pluma spends her days cuddling and playing fetch, which Carmen says she can do for hours. “Pluma is truly a lovely cat and has made my home a happy environment,” she adds. “I hope others that are able to care for and provide a clean and healthy home for dogs and cats consider adopting one of the beautiful animals at the ASPCA!”
After years of uncertainty and ever-changing homes, it seems that Pluma has finally found a place to call her own. Carmen says, “I love her so much and I pray that she will be in my life for many years. Thanks again to everyone at the ASPCA for bringing these animals HOME.”
By the time Oscar the Miniature Poodle was rescued by the NYPD, he was severely traumatized from a lifetime of abuse. Although his rescue signaled the end of a terrifying nightmare, Oscar still faced a long road to recovery—and it took more than a year of medical and behavioral care before he was able to feel comfortable in a loving home. Today, Oscar is not only thriving in his new life, he is living proof that every animal deserves a second chance. Here is his Happy Tail.
The NYPD rescued Oscar in March 2014. He arrived at the ASPCA with a severe wound on his muzzle, as well as an ear infection and damaged nasal cavity. At the ASPCA Animal Hospital, Oscar underwent multiple reconstructive surgeries to mend his snout and help repair holes in his palate and sinuses. Although his muzzle would never look completely “normal,” he was comfortable and physically functional. Emotionally, though, he was far from recovered.
Oscar’s trauma left him with extreme anxiety. He would cry, bark and urinate when left alone; he was afraid of strangers, loud noises and crowds, and he did not like for his sides, mouth or face to be touched. It is likely that the poor pup had never in his life experienced a stable, loving home, and we were saddened to see him adopted and returned two times over the course of the next year. In both instances the adopters meant well, but Oscar’s special needs were more than either one could handle.
Our behaviorists spent time working with Oscar to help him overcome his anxiety, and in June 2015—more than a year after his rescue—a third adopter was ready to give him a chance. Her name was Bethany, and she was determined to make his adoption stick.
Bethany spent the last ten years living in California, where a full-time job with long hours made it difficult consider dog adoption. Earlier this year, she decided to leave that job and move to Connecticut, stating, “My need for having a dog is what really pushed me to make the change.” Once she arrived on the East Coast, she began searching for the right pet immediately.
At the ASPCA Adoption Center, Bethany was introduced to a number of dogs, but Oscar immediately stood out. “All the dogs were adorable but Oscar was such a sweetheart,” she says. “I was told that he had high anxiety, would need medication and was a barker, but despite that, I wanted to have a one-on-one visit with him.”
During their meeting, the precious Poodle immediately took to Bethany and was very well-behaved. “I got to see just how friendly and sweet he is,” she says. “You would have no idea that he had suffered that trauma before coming to the ASPCA.”
Unlike his prior two adoptions, Oscar settled into his new life with Bethany immediately. “He’s so comfortable in my apartment, you would think I’ve had him forever,” she says. He goes with her to work every day, and he enjoys long lunch walks and games of tug-of-war with visitors. “People joke that he’s my shadow since he follows me everywhere, and I love it,” Bethany says. He loves to snuggle on her bed while hugging his favorite stuffed bear, and lately he’s been enjoying long walks on the beach.
“I just can’t imagine why anyone would ever have given Oscar up,” Bethany adds proudly. “I bring him to see my 97-year-old grandmother in her facility every week and everyone’s face lights up when he comes in. He really is a dream, so thank you for taking him in, making him healthy and training him to be so well behaved. I think it’s important for people to see that even a dog who suffered trauma and needs medication can be the best low-maintenance dog.”
We are so thrilled that this amazing pooch recovered from his past abuse and is living the happy life he has always deserved. And as for his unique muzzle, Bethany says, “The work done on his face left him with a permanent ‘Elvis’ half-smile that everyone comments on. He’s already such a happy doggie, and now he’s got the smile to prove it!”
Lots of people come to the ASPCA Adoption Center with a “wish list” of traits for their new pet. They have a certain, age, breed, gender or temperament in mind, and we do our very best to provide them with a perfect match. But often, these same people meet an animal that inspires them to throw their whole list out the window, and Natasha was one such person. She and her new cat, Lala, are proof that sometimes, there’s just no formula for a new best friend. Here is their Happy Tail.
Lala arrived at the ASPCA in January after being transferred from the local city shelter with five other cats. She was friendly but extremely shy, and she had a tendency to cower away from loud noises, strange objects and new people. We worried that her reticence would make it difficult to woo adopters, and for weeks she was continually passed over for other, more gregarious pets. Then, just before Valentine’s Day, Natasha showed up.
“I’ve wanted to adopt a cat for a very, very long time, and this year was the first time that I had the capability to do so,” Natasha tells us. After moving into a new pet-friendly apartment in January, she became what she describes as “cat crazy,” stating, “I absolutely needed a cat to join the family. All I could think about was cats!” She spent some time researching shelters in her area, but was ultimately drawn to the ASPCA for our variety of benefits, including the fact that cats over the age of three are free.
You see, an older cat was part of Natasha’s specific plan. She says, “My checklist for what I wanted in a cat included adulthood (as a first-time cat owner, I wanted a cat who already knew itself), self reliance (ability to be left home alone) and, most importantly, a lap cat.”
But when she arrived at the Adoption Center, the very first cat she met was Lala. “Lala was not a lap cat,” Natasha says. “She enjoyed being petted, but only if she got to stay in the far corner of her kitty condo. When we put her in the interaction area, she immediately bolted to hide behind any structure and refused to be bribed with treats.” Thinking that Lala wasn’t the perfect fit, Natasha went on to meet other adoptable cats who fell more in line with her request for “lap cattitude,” but none of them felt like the one. After heading home, she couldn’t get Lala out of her mind. “I realized I may have recklessly given my heart away when I showed Lala’s—and only Lala’s—adoption profile to people whenever I discussed getting a cat,” she says.
A week later, Natasha decided to return to the Adoption Center to “make absolutely certain I wasn’t just delusionally building up my connection to her in absentia,” she jokes. “Nope! I still felt a great rush of affection for her, even when she stayed in the corner of her cubby.” On February 18, Natasha made the adoption official, and she and Lala headed home to begin their new life together.
“I was prepared to wait weeks for Lala to stop hiding under the bed,” Natasha tells us of their initial adjustment period, “but she started exploring the day after she arrived!” The transition continued to go smoothly in the months that followed. Natasha says, “I think the best sign of her increased confidence and comfort is that, when keys would jingle at the front door, she used to bolt into one of her hiding spots. Now, she walks toward the door to investigate. She also loves jumping on my bed in the morning to be petted. I’m quite proud of her.”
In closing, Natasha has a message for the ASPCA volunteer that decided to introduce her to a pet who didn’t quite fulfill her all-important requirement of a lap cat: “Thank you so much for having done so. I love Lala so much, and chances are I would never have been introduced to her at my visit if I had been much firmer with my checklist. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Congratulations to Lala for finding the perfect fit!
They say that when one door closes, another one will open. Perhaps the same can be said of the animals who come into our lives and touch our hearts. For ASPCA Medical Director Jill Pomrantz, the passing of her senior dog, Romeo, paved the way for the adoption of a special needs pup named Morena. Morena and Jill helped each other heal through a difficult time, and now they’re both living a very happy life together. Here is their story.
In 2006, Morena was purchased from a pet store. The Shih Tzu puppy spent eight years with her first family until, in December 2014, they surrendered her to the ASPCA for financial reasons. As is typical of pet store puppies, Morena suffers from a number of chronic health issues that require regular treatment, including dry eyes, for which she needs twice-daily eye drops, and diabetes, for which she needs twice-daily insulin shots. Despite these difficulties, Morena is a love-bug who is fond of everyone she meets. All she needed was an adopter willing to see beyond her special needs to give her a happy home.
In early May, Jill met Morena at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, where she was consulting on her case. “I fell in love with her,” she says. “The vets and I spoke about trying to get her into a foster home to help with the treatment of her diabetes, and I actually made an offhanded comment that I would love to take her but had too many pets.” Jill and her partner, Britta, were already pet-parents three dogs and two cats, all rescues.
But the very next day, something sad happened. Jill and Britta’s dog, Romeo, who was blind and had heart disease, passed away. It was a difficult time. Jill recalls, “A few days after that, still devastated by the loss of Romeo, I was talking to Britta about Morena and her diabetes and the need for a foster home. We already had a diabetic cat, so we knew that it wouldn’t be a big deal to have another diabetic pet.” They decided to foster Morena to help get her diabetes under control so that she could be adopted.
But things don’t always go as planned, and the foster pup quickly became a permanent family member. “From the minute Morena came home, she fit right in with the rest of the crew and made herself at home,” Jill says. She even slept on the couple’s bed the very first night. “After having her for a day, we knew we were likely never going to give her back, and we didn’t.” In June, they made the adoption official.
Jill and Britta kept Morena’s name but also call her “Mo,” and in the months since her adoption, the senior dog has only grown stronger and happier. “She’s so loving and follows us around the apartment,” Jill says. “She’s blind in one eye, but you’d never know it.” And although she will always feel the sadness of her loss, Jill is grateful to Mo’ for helping her heal. “We still miss Romeo very much, but Mo’ has eased the pain.” We’re sure that for this sweet, special Shih Tzu, Jill and Britta have eased the pain, too.
Britta with Mo', Nilla (Yellow Lab) and Mattie (Chocolate Lab)