At the ASPCA, we believe that fostering a bond between children and animals is of the utmost importance (in fact, we have a whole website about it!). After all, in a few short years those kids will be the strongest voice for animals that we have. That’s why we were so excited to hear from ASPCA adopter Barbara H. and her nine-year-old son, Tobias, about their new feline family member. Here is the Happy Tail of a cat named Devito.
When two-year-old Devito arrived at the ASPCA in June, his back and belly were covered in burns. We didn’t know where the wounds had come from, but we were certain that the sweet cat would fare better in a foster home. So, after receiving medical treatment for his sores and scars, Devito moved into Barbara’s home to begin his healing process.
“We brought Devito home as a foster cat without any idea that we’d end up adopting him,” says Barbara. Barbara grew up with cats, but she developed a terrible feline allergy later in life. Not wanting to deprive her son of the joys of pet-parenting, she thought fostering would be a perfect solution. “I figured I could handle taking a lot of antihistamines for two weeks at a time,” says Barbara. “It was the perfect way to do some good and give Tobias at least a part-time pet.”
Though they had fostered many kitties before, nine-year-old Tobias wasn’t quite as sold on the concept: “Saying goodbye to cats at the end of the foster was good and it was bad,” he says. “It was kind of a relief because I didn’t get woken up at night anymore, but sad because I missed the way kittens would chase my toes under the covers and chew my hair while I was sleeping.”
Tobias knew from the start that there was something special about Devito. “He licked us and always wanted to cuddle up next to us and rest at least one paw on our arms and knees,” he says. “Devito followed us everywhere, including lying on the rim of the tub while I took a bath!”
There was something else special about Devito, too: Because of his skin condition, he didn’t trigger Barbara’s allergies the way other cats had. She laughs, “I knew it was serious when we started talking about naming him and inviting friends over to meet him as though he was already a member of the family. It just felt like he was our cat.” So on August 14, one week after taking Devito in as a foster, Barbara and Tobias made him an official member of the family.
Once his foster home became his forever home, Devito’s life got even better. Barbara and Tobias renamed him “Zenith,” because, as she says, “he’s black and white like an old TV.” After his wounds healed, they bought a leash and harness so they could walk him through the community garden near their house. “Zenith loves to slink through the grass stalking butterflies and birds,” says Barbara. “Walking that cat at the end of the day in the tranquil garden is a nice way for Tobias and me to spend time together, too,” she adds.
Though the adoption was unplanned, Zenith, Barbara and Tobias turned out to be a perfect match. When asked why they made the decision to adopt, Tobias put it best: “Because we wanted an extra friend.”
While overweight animals might have “more to love,” the truth is that obesity in pets is a serious cause for concern. Animal obesity can lead to a variety of health problems including difficulty breathing, pancreatitis, orthopedic issues, diabetes, and a compromised immune system. So when an overweight pug named Bubba arrived at the ASPCA in July, we knew he would need an active adopter willing to help him work toward a healthier weight. Fortunately, Carolyn O. saw the pug beneath the pudge, and Bubba is now thriving in her home. Here is their Happy Tail.
The ideal weight for an adult male pug is between 13 and 20 pounds. When Bubba came to the ASPCA, he weighed 33. Surrendered by an owner who could no longer care for him, Bubba’s health was in serious jeopardy: In addition to obesity, he was suffering from classic brachycephalic syndrome—an anatomical abnormality bred into dogs with the “pushed-in” face conformation—that makes it difficult to breathe. Even worse, Bubba’s immune system was weak from obesity and he contracted an ear infection and a terrible case of pneumonia. He needed to get into a loving home as soon as possible.
Fortunately for Bubba, Carolyn and her boyfriend Ryan were searching for a small dog to adopt. “A pug was what we both really wanted,” says Carolyn, “but rescuing was ultimately more important to us.” At the ASPCA Adoption Center, she and Ryan met a number of dogs, but most were bigger than what their apartment allowed. They went home empty-handed.
A week later, Ryan convinced Carolyn to return to the ASPCA and take one more look around. “We went back to the Adoption Center exactly one week after our initial trip to discover that there was one ‘small’ dog available that day,” she says. “They mentioned that the one dog happened to be a pug, and when we came down the hall and saw him it seemed absolutely perfect!”
After taking one look at Bubba, the couple was smitten. “We knew we’d hit the jackpot. Between his great personality, adorable face wrinkles, and infectious smile, there was no way we weren’t going to adopt Bubba,” Carolyn says. But back at home, the reality of his condition set in.
“The first two weeks were really difficult,” says Carolyn. Due to his obesity and the resulting pneumonia, Bubba was unable to even climb the stairs to Carolyn’s apartment. On walks, he couldn’t even make it around one block before becoming too tired to continue. Carolyn and Ryan implemented a strict prescription diet and weight-loss regime to help Bubba shed some pounds and overcome his illness, and slowly but surely, the precious pooch showed signs of improvement.
It has now been two months since Bubba’s adoption, and he has turned into a whole new dog. After shedding some weight, Carolyn says, “He has recovered marvelously! He makes it up the stairs no problem (often quicker than me) and loves his walks to Central Park.” Bubba now spends his days snoozing, chewing on his alligator plush toy and snuggling with his new parents. “He has a really happy and positive disposition,” says Carolyn. “He smiles constantly and brings us nothing but joy!”
Thanks to Carolyn and Ryan’s patience and persistence, Bubba is finally at a healthy weight and can look forward to a long and love-filled life in his new forever home.
Back in June, we told you about the ASPCA’s new neonatal kitten ward. This first-of-its-kind facility was designed specifically to manage the influx of newborn kittens that flood shelters every year during feline breeding season (also known as “kitten season”). Now, just three months later, we are thrilled to share one of the neonatal ward’s very first success stories. Here is Catsup’s “Happy Tail.”
Catsup was one of the very first patients to enter the ASPCA’s kitten ward. He and four siblings—Mustard, Relish, Sauerkraut, and Hollandaise—were found as motherless strays in the Bronx, New York. They were only three days old. After arriving at our new facility, the “condiment kitties” received round-the-clock attention from our expert Animal Care Technicians and caregivers. Every two hours, the 8-oz. newborns were fed kitten milk replacer (KMR) through a syringe until their little bellies expanded with contentment. Then, our staff applied warm, wet gauze to their rear ends to encourage defecation and urination—something a mama cat would normally do by licking her young. Once satisfied, Catsup and his siblings snuggled together and slept (until it was time for the next feeding two hours later!). It was a safer, happier, and healthier beginning than they ever could have had on the streets.
After three months, Catsup was old enough to be transferred to the ASPCA Adoption Center, where he was promptly adopted. We were thrilled that he had found a home—until we learned that he was being returned two weeks later. The adopter had not been fully prepared for the demands of a kitten and couldn’t handle Catsup’s constant mewling. Though we were disappointed, fate had someone even better in mind for Catsup: Ilana.
The day after Catsup’s return, Ilana and her boyfriend, Jesse, came to the ASPCA. The animal-lovers had been planning to adopt a kitten for almost a year, but something about June 24 felt like the perfect day to take the plunge. At the Adoption Center, they met Catsup and it was love at first sight. “We knew he was for us as soon as he climbed onto my lap without hesitation,” recalls Ilana. “He was so outgoing and loving, we had to take him home.”
Ilana’s home proved to be the perfect fit, and Catsup settled into his new life beautifully. Ilana calls him “an explorer” and tells us, “He has run of the household and now wakes us up with loving nudges every morning.” Catsup’s new home also came with a new name: Theodore.
From the uncertainty of their first days on the streets of New York City, Theodore and his siblings have all come so far. Thanks to our new kitten ward—and to Ilana and Jesse—this sweet baby has found a better life than he ever could have dreamed of. And we know he is just relishing the experience!
For a mini dachshund named Aaron, the road to a “forever home” was anything but smooth. Surrendered to the ASPCA in July 2013, the three-year-old pup was suffering from a whole host of medical problems—including a broken leg—and displayed behavioral issues like aggression and anxiety. We knew that he would need a patient adopter willing to earn his trust, and fortunately, a lifelong dachshund-lover named Marissa was up for the challenge. Here is their Happy Tail.
“Dogs are my passion in life,” says Marissa. She and her then-fiancé, Pete, already had a six-year-old dachshund when they decided they wanted another dog. But with a wedding on the way, Pete thought it would be best to wait until after their honeymoon to adopt a new furry friend. “I agreed, but the second we were home from the honeymoon I started looking for another dachshund,” says Marissa. On that very first night, she found Aaron on the ASPCA website.
“I particularly love dachshunds for all their great traits and endearing quirks, and I figured there was no way a dog as cute as Aaron would still be available,” she says. Sure enough, she called the ASPCA Adoption line at 10:59 A.M. the next day (it opens at 11), to inquire about little Aaron. We invited her to come in for a meeting.
At the meeting, Marissa learned a bit more about Aaron’s history. His previous owner surrendered him to the ASPCA when his myriad medical and emotional needs became more than she could handle. In addition to the leg—which had been broken by another dog before being treated at the ASPCA Animal Hospital—Aaron has a swallowing condition called cricopharyngeal dysfunction that requires twice-daily medication. On top of all that, he was a nervous dog who displayed aggressive behavior toward strangers and other animals. It was a lot of information to receive at one time, but Marissa was unphased. “That sounds like most dachshunds!” she laughed.
To make absolutely sure that Aaron was the right fit, Marissa asked Pete to come see him right away. “He had a meeting, but knew if he didn’t come to the ASPCA I would probably divorce him,” she jokes. He left work immediately and came to the ASPCA Adoption Center, where Aaron had surprised everyone by becoming friends with Marissa’s other dachshund, Oscar. Watching the two dogs play, we had all the confirmation we needed—this family was a perfect match.
After his adoption, Aaron relaxed happily into his new life. Marissa says, “He fit into our household very easily. He’s an absolute sweetheart and the adjustment went a lot smoother and quicker than we could have imagined.” Aaron seemed to forget his past trauma, and though his condition makes it hard to eat and drink water, the family does everything possible to make his life easier. “I think the love and compassion Aaron received at the ASPCA prepared him for his new life and a permanent home,” says Marissa. “We are so thankful for everything you’ve done for him.”
When Hunan and Adore came to the ASPCA at the height of kitten season, they were less than 4 weeks old. The tiny kitties had been found together as strays, and both were suffering from untreated infections that left them with serious eye damage. Though we hoped to keep them together, we were struggling to find one family willing to take both babies home. Fortunately, two roommates from Brooklyn came along and adopted Hunan and Adore—proving that in the end, family is whatever you make of it. Here is their doubly-happy Happy Tail.
Sam and Kaylie have been sharing an apartment in Brooklyn since January, when Kaylie moved to New York from California. After a few months together, the lifelong cat-lovers realized that their apartment was missing something very important: a feline! Not content to share a cat, the roomies decided that they each wanted a furry friend of their own, and in May, they headed to the ASPCA Adoption Center.
“Kaylie and I both wanted to adopt,” Sam recalls. “We thought it would be great to adopt a pair so that when we have to leave the apartment, it will be a bit more bearable.” After meeting many cats, though, the roommates hadn’t found any that felt like the perfect fit. They were nearly ready to leave when they spotted two tiny tuxedo kittens, Hunan and Adore.
At just a few months old, Hunan and Adore were far from the adult cats that Sam and Kaylie had envisioned before their visit. But they were drawn to pair and asked to meet them. “We took them out and immediately they started running around and playing with each other and falling all over themselves,” laughs Kaylie. It didn’t take long before one duo was sold on the other. “When Hunan looked at me with her one eye in a perpetual wink, I found her so heart-meltingly charming that I knew she was the one for me,” Kaylie says. Sam felt the same way about Adore: “With the distinguishing white-dipped tail, I knew my kitten was a star.” The new foursome headed home together that very same day.
Back at home, Sam and Kaylie’s new four-legged roommates settled in easily. “There was barely an adjustment—they both took to the apartment almost immediately!” Kaylie tells us. “Having a buddy throughout the whole move seemed to give them both an added boost of courage,” adds Sam.
In the weeks that followed, things only got better. Adore quickly established herself as the “house musician,” thanks to her tendency to walk on Sam’s piano, while Hunan is known as the family “techie” who loves to pounce on phones and computers. Looking back, both Sam and Kaylie are thrilled with how their home has grown. “It was a great decision to get both cats,” Kaylie says. “They bring us so much joy every day, and we couldn’t be happier with our new roommates and family members.”