When an animal has been through trauma, the ASPCA Animal Hospital has all the tools, experience and expertise needed to provide life-saving care. But although we are pros at administering medicine and conducting surgery, we know there is only one proven treatment that can heal broken a heart: a loving “forever home.” Here is the story of one such patient, a cat named Dulcinea.
In June 2014, Dulcinea (Dulcie for short) was found as a stray on the Bruckner Expressway in the Bronx, New York. She arrived at the ASPCA Animal Hospital in pain, suffering from unknown trauma that left her with lower jaw wounds and a burn on her back. She underwent surgery to remove the damaged skin tissue, and was soon transferred to the ASPCA Adoption Center to begin her search for a forever home.
At the Adoption Center, Dulcie grew increasingly standoffish. She was wary of people and animals, and it became apparent that her harrowing history had left her with lingering emotional wounds. She was having trouble wooing potential adopters until, four months later, a woman named Susan S. showed up and changed everything.
Last year, Susan lost both of her cats, Marabou and Molly-Plume, to lymphoma less than six months apart. Devastated and missing her feline companions, she agreed to join her daughter, an ASPCA volunteer named Allana, on a trip to our Adoption Center. “Of course we looked around at the cats who needed a home,” Susan recalls. “That’s when a feline behaviorist introduced me to a quiet little 16-month-old female cat who didn’t like being caged, didn’t like other cats and didn’t like people much, either.”
Although Dulcie was, in Susan’s words, “physically well but socially reticent,” Susan was intrigued by the green-eyed kitty. “When she came out of her cage to meet me, she seemed relatively relaxed and allowed me to stroke her head and scratch her chin.” At home that night, Susan’s couldn’t stop thinking about Dulcie, so she returned the next day and made the adoption official. “Although I have had a shelter cat or two all my adult life, Duclie is the first one with an ASPCA ‘pedigree,’” she says with a smile.
At Susan’s apartment in Manhattan, Dulcie made herself right at home. Susan says, “On arrival, she got a quiet private room, a cozy bed and all her necessities right at paw…Food, water ,litter box, scratching board, small toys. Within a day, she made it clear that she wanted to leave her room to explore. She promptly made the full apartment her own.”
Over the next six months, Dulcie continued to transform. “She has flourished in every possible way,” Susan says proudly. “Her weight has gone from 7.5 pounds to a pleasingly round 10 pounds. Her coat has grown plush and glossy. She has found both her voice (chirp as well as meow) and her purr.” Dulcie now spends her days playing, chasing her toys, and enjoying the sweet life Susan has given her.
Susan adds, “Dulcie is not a cuddler but she is delightfully companionable. She routinely goes to her bed when I go to my bed at night, to her chair when I go to my chair at the end of the day. She’s also exceptionally intelligent and resourceful. It is a ‘happy tail indeed!’”
After traumatic injuries and a terrifying ordeal on the expressway, Dulcie was clearly ready for a peaceful, happy home—and fortunately, she found it with Susan. Congratulations to this happy pair!
Many of you may recall the story of Charlotte, a tiny Maltese/Shih Tzu who garnered national attention last fall when she was severely injured and left for dead in Staten Island, New York. The alleged abuser’s court case is still pending, but fortunately, Charlotte’s future is not. Here is a happy update on her story.
Charlotte was discovered in a trash bag near the Staten Island train tracks in September, 2014. According to allegations in court documents, her previous owner told police that she couldn’t afford to care for Charlotte, so she put her in the bag and threw her out of her car window. Charlotte was severely injured during the ordeal, and when she arrived at the ASPCA Animal Hospital she was in critical condition. At the time, she was less than four months old.
During her six-week stay at the hospital, Charlotte received treatment for a fractured skull, a fractured femur and brain trauma resulting from the blunt-force impact. Though public outrage surrounding the case was high, our primary goal was to help Charlotte heal and—most importantly—to place her into a safe home where she could receive the attention, love and care that she so dearly deserved. Fortunately, on November 1, we found that home in the form of an adopter named Dava.
After the adoption, Dava’s first priority was to help Charlotte forget her painful past. In addition to the new home, she decided to give the tiny snow-white dog a new name: Pip. “She’s quite happy,” Dava said in an update a few months later. “She is doing great and is completely a part of the family.” Although Pip does have some lingering issues from her brain injury, Dava is more than happy to help manage them and the petite pup is currently undergoing further testing. “She has gotten a lot bigger and is full of energy and personality,” Dava adds proudly. “We adore her, and we’re so glad that we adopted her.”
Although the case against Pip’s alleged abuser is still pending—in October, she pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals, misdemeanor counts of torturing and injuring animals, and animal abandonment—we are beyond thrilled that Pip is recovering physically and emotionally in Dava’s home. Whatever the verdict may be, we know that the Pip’s happiness is the greatest outcome of all.
It’s spring at the ASPCA, which means we’re busy preparing for kitten season—the time of year when felines breed and shelters across the country receive an influx of homeless and newborn cats. The season lasts from April to September, and this year we’re prepared to take in up to 2,300 kittens at our facility in New York City. In anticipation of this, we thought it would be nice to check in on some of last year’s babies and bring you an update. Here is the story of one lucky kitten who is growing up happily after beginning life at the ASPCA.
Luna the kitten was born in August, 2014, in a home with too many cats. Fortunately, the overwhelmed owner decided to surrender Luna and two of her siblings to the local city shelter. She was barely three weeks old at the time. The shelter realized that the kittens needed specialized care, so they sent them to the neonatal ward (a.k.a. “kitten nursery”) at the ASPCA.
Once at the hospital, Luna and her siblings received round-the-clock attention from our expert Animal Care Technicians. The tiny kitten weighed less than a pound and needed to be syringe-fed every two hours, day and night, until she grew big enough and strong enough to start on solid food. After a month in the kitten nursery, Luna was ready for adoption at last.
While all of this was going on, Fanny F. and her fiancé had taken two trips to our Adoption Center in search of a pet. “I’ve always wanted to adopt,” says Fanny, whose parents never had animals in the house. “Watching the ASPCA commercials and doing a little research on my own, I knew that the right thing to do was to help by opening my home to a furry friend of my own.”
Initially, the couple had been looking for an older cat. It was only on their third visit that they were taken to meet the babies. “I didn’t expect to adopt a kitten, but when I made way to the kitten section, I immediately had a change of heart,” Fanny recalls. “When met Luna, she was eager to play and socialize. I knew she was the one when I held her.”
Luna seemed to feel an instant connection as well. Fanny says, “She was super friendly, affectionate and loved to be held. My fiancé was with me at the time, and it really clicked to see them both bonding and playing together.” Prior plans aside, the couple realized that Luna was meant to be their new pet. On the day they adopted her, she was four months old. Her siblings were both adopted two days later.
Back at Fanny’s apartment, Luna made herself comfortable right away. “Each day we have our morning rituals together before I leave for work and when I come home at the end of the day,” Fanny says with a smile. “I really feel she was made to grow up with me. It’s fate that we met.”
It’s amazing to think how different Luna’s life might have been had she stayed in that overpopulated house. But she was a lucky one—she was rescued by the ASPCA and adopted into a loving family. Fanny says, “She has shown me so much love and affection that it gave me the confidence to know I’m doing a good job raising her. A happy kitty is a very happy kitty mommy!”
Congratulations to baby Luna on her perfect new life!
It’s amazing what a difference the perfect home can make. Sometimes, animals who seem fearful or reserved will blossom into social, friendly pets just by landing in the right environment. In the case of a five-year-old Dalmatian named Hazel, the perfect home was all it took to let her personality shine. Here’s her Happy Tail.
The ASPCA rescued Hazel from cruelty in 2010. She was just a puppy at the time and it didn’t take long for her to find a home. We celebrated Hazel’s adoption and then returned our focus to the hundreds of dogs still under our care. A year went by, then another and another, until all of a sudden we got a phone call from her adopter in May 2013. Hazel wasn’t doing well.
Although the spotted pup’s adopters loved Hazel, she just wasn’t thriving in their home. She had put on a lot of weight and was showing signs of aggression. In addition, she was suffering from a leg injury that left her limping and uncomfortable. With a heavy heart, the adopters acknowledged that they couldn’t care for a dog of her size and needs, so they made the decision to do what they thought was best for Hazel: they returned her to the ASPCA.
It had been three years since we had seen Hazel, and when she arrived, she wasn’t in great shape. Her leg injury had made exercise difficult, and as a result, she became morbidly obese at 86-lbs. She was also reactive to other dogs and fearful of strange objects. We knew that it would take some time to help Hazel get ready for adoption again.
Over the next year and a half, Hazel received surgery, including the insertion of a metal plate and screws to repair a torn ligament in her knee, and was put on a strict weight-loss diet and socialization routine. When she was finally ready for adoption in February 2014, we hoped that the process would be as easy as it had been the first time around, but we weren’t quite so lucky. Nine months went by before Samantha F. and her boyfriend, Paul, stepped through our doors.
Samantha and Paul both had dogs growing up, so when they moved into a big apartment they decided it was finally time to adopt a pet of their own. They met Hazel on their first trip to the ASPCA Adoption Center, and they were instantly intrigued by the beautiful pooch. We filled them in on her history and had a frank conversation about her medical and emotional needs, but the couple was undeterred.
“I could immediately tell that she was the perfect dog for us,” Samantha recalls. “We fell in love with her story and couldn’t imagine leaving her in her kennel for another day.” With no hesitation, they adopted Hazel and brought her home to their Queens, New York, apartment. Samantha adds, “With everything she’s been through, she deserved a second chance at life.”
And what a difference that second chance has made. Within a few weeks, the Hazel we had known—fearful, wary, overweight—had all but disappeared under Samantha and Paul’s care. When we asked for an update, Samantha gushed, “Hazel transformed and exceeded our expectations! Through her time at home, she has been weaned off of all pain and anxiety medication. Her behavioral evaluation said she would never be a ‘dog-park dog,’ but now she loves going and is extremely social and friendly with the other dogs there. Even strangers fall in love with her, too.”
The ASPCA staff is overjoyed to hear of Hazel’s success. She is proof that there’s just no substitute for the perfect home—and that every animal deserves a chance to shine. Samantha says, “We feel extremely blessed to have Hazel,” but we know that for this Dalmatian, Samantha and Paul’s home was “just the spot.”
At the ASPCA, we’re equally fond of dogs and cats, but we recognize that not all everyone feels the same way—some adopters are firmly “dog people” while others can’t get enough of our purring feline friends. So when one lifelong member of “Team Dog” came to our Adoption Center and fell for a kitty named Gala, we knew that their bond was truly meant to be. Here is the story of how Gala the cat won over a dog-lover named Erin.
“I was born a proud ’dog person,’” Erin D. recalls. She adopted her rescue pooch, Feeny, from an Atlanta-area shelter eight years ago, and last spring, she decided to adopt another pet to keep him company. Her commitment to canines was steadfast. “A dog is man’s best friend, right? What could truly compare to a wagging tail, fierce, protective loyalty and the unwavering, unconditional, instantaneous love a dog provides every second you walk in the door?” she asked. As it turns out, the answer was surprising: A cat from the ASPCA.
Erin first came to our Adoption Center in March 2014, about a month after we had rescued a tiny four-pound kitten named Gala from a home with too many animals. Gala was shy and timid, but had an undeniably sweet disposition. Erin met with one of our adoption counselors (or, as she calls them, “Matchmakers”), who asked some questions about what she was looking for in a pet. That’s when she was taken to the kitten room where Gala was being housed.
“I met eight-month-old Gala and it was a purrrrfect match,” Erin says. “She was very affectionate and seemed to take a liking to us almost immediately.” After an adoption interview, she adopted Gala, purchased all the necessary kitten supplies from the ASPCA, took the kitty home and changed her name to Olive.
Olive took to Erin (and her new brother, Feeny) almost immediately. “She and my dog warmed to each other quickly,” Erin says. “She is not shy at all anymore and has become quite social and very entertaining.” Erin adds that Olive loves to cuddle and never ceases to make her laugh with her “aspiring-Olympian” antics. “She is a very well-adjusted, happy, healthy, sweet little cat who has proven to be extremely loving and social. The ASPCA truly helped me find my match in a cat, and I couldn’t recommend a place for animal adoption more highly.”
But Olive did more than find the perfect home—she shook Erin’s “Team Dog” stance entirely. Erin says, “She defied all of my pre-conceived ‘dog person’ judgments. I truly love cats AND dogs now—in fact, I may actually take more shameless selfies with Olive than I do with Feeny! In 50 years, that may just be me living next door to you with a ton of adopted little kitties, so come on by.”
In closing, Erin says, “The animals up for adoption at the ASPCA are incredible.” Then she adds with a smile, “Thanks ASPCA, for giving me a full-blown identity crisis.”