When an animal is rescued from cruelty, the road to recovery is not always easy. A dog or cat exposed to abuse wouldn’t be blamed for wanting to shut down and avoid the world, but more often than not, the animals we meet prove to have an unrivaled resilience—a strength and spirit that shines through despite the darkness of their past. We are inspired by these animals every day, and we are so proud to share their stories. Here is the Happy Tail of one such animal, a Pit Bull named Stella.
On July 31, 2014, the ASPCA and the NYPD joined forces to rescue 20 dogs from a dog fighting operation in Queens, New York. Multiple dogs, many of whom were emaciated, scarred, and wearing heavy chains, were found without access to food or water. A bloody treadmill, weighted harnesses, steroids, syringes and other dog fighting paraphernalia were also found on the property. Stella was one of the canine victims rescued that day.
After her rescue, Stella spent a month at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, where she received immediate medical attention and an eventual spay surgery. After her recovery, she was transferred to the ASPCA Adoption Center to begin her search for a forever home. In early October, she hit the jackpot in the form of Katelyn E. and her boyfriend, Jesse.
Kate and Jesse had been talking about dog adoption for a while before they met Stella. Kate says, “We were looking forward to having a pet in our family—someone to always keep us company and brighten our day. We also knew that there are so many dogs in shelters looking for a home, so we definitely wanted to adopt!” They met a number of dogs at the Adoption Center, but Stella stood out as the perfect match.
“We knew Stella was the right dog for us after our first meeting,” Kate recalls. “Her tail was wagging and she was just happy to be able to play with her toys.” They adopted the 40-lb. pooch and brought her home that same day.
Though we were thrilled to see Stella find a forever home, we knew that her painful past was still a fresh memory. Fortunately, Kate and Jesse were eager and willing to put in the effort to help sweet Stella adjust. “When we first brought Stella home she was very shy and scared,” Kate recalls. Everything was new for Stella—she huddled in her crate and was fearful of the apartment’s stairs. For the first few days, Kate and Jesse carried her up all four flights. But once she realized that Kate and Jesse’s home was now her home, too, Stella transformed.
“After the first few nights, Stella was like a new dog,” says Kate. “She is so happy to be with her new family. Every day we wake up to her wagging her tail—she literally jumps into our laps and kisses our faces to say good morning.” Stella now handles the stairs with ease and eagerly awaits snuggle time with her family. “Every new experience is so exciting for her,” Kate marvels. “She loves getting new toys, bones, and lots of hugs. She is such a sweet dog, and by far the best decision we have made. We are extremely happy with Stella.”
After a lifetime of pain, Stella’s new home probably seemed too good to be true. But she eventually realized that it is in fact the opposite—it’s everything she has always deserved. We couldn’t be more grateful for her very happy ending.
Just because two animals are bonded—or siblings, for that matter—doesn’t mean their personalities are the same. In fact, in the case of two brothers named Nathan and Troy, they couldn’t be any more different. But these kittens rely on each other, and fortunately, they found one loving home eager to take them both in. Here is their Happy Tail.
When Nathan and Troy came to the ASPCA at the tender age of five months, both were suffering from a severe case of ringworm. They had been transferred from the local city shelter and were admitted for treatment at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, where their distinct personalities quickly became clear. Orange tabby Nathan was shy and sensitive and preferred quiet, gentle attention, while grey tabby Troy was more of a show-off. Though they were opposites in many ways, these two tiny brothers stayed by each other’s side during their entire four-month stay in our Hospital. By September, the bonded duo was healthy and ready to find a forever home—provided they could find one together. Fortunately, adopters Matthew and Gina walked through our door on October 11.
Matthew and Gina came to the ASPCA after losing their beloved cat, Louis. His brother, Charlie, had passed two years before. The couple had adopted from us before and was eager to expand their feline-family. “We have always had cats in our lives,” Gina said. “If we could manage, we would adopt 10 or more!” As they toured the available animals at the ASPCA Adoption Center, they spotted Nathan and Troy and, in Gina’s words, “It was love at first sight.”
“We saw Nathan and Troy playing in their habitat,” Gina recalls. “Troy came over right away, Nathan was a little shy,” she adds, their personalities already shining. “But we knew they were the ones for us, and we were so happy to hear they were bonded.” The couple adopted both kitties that day and changed their names to King Harold and King Midas (Harry and Midey for short), and the foursome headed back to Brooklyn to begin their new life together.
Despite their differences, the inseparable kitties adjusted easily to their new home. “Harry and Midey are comfy-cozy and we’re all best of friends,” says Gina. “We feel like a big happy family all sleeping in the same bed.”
After a tough start to life—and a long stay in the hospital—we’re so glad that these baby brothers have found a home that fits them both. “They are so happy together,” says Gina. “Matthew and I are in love with them.” We think these two got more than just “kingly” names—they finally got the royal treatment they deserve.
At the ASPCA, animal adoptions are at the heart of what we do. There is no better feeling than rescuing an animal from abuse, neglect or cruelty and helping them find the forever home they deserve. We work 365 days a year to create these “Happy Tails,” and in 2014, our New York City Adoption Centerhelped over 3,500 animals find loving families.
To celebrate these new beginnings, we’re taking a look back at the year’s ten most popular Happy Tails. These were the most read, most shared adoption stories of the year, and we are so thrilled to celebrate them here today:
Cher was abused, shoved into a garbage bag and abandoned in a grocery store parking lot. After the ASPCA rescued her, our long-time volunteer Susan H. decided to give her the forever home she deserved. Now she spends her days happy, playing, and, most importantly, loved.
After being rescued from mysterious circumstances, Shepherd/Collie mix Escher was shy, fearful and very wary of humans. But an ASPCA photographer recognized that underneath the pain, this timid dog was eager to love and be loved. Now he is thriving in his new home.
Brewster the pit bull was rescued from an abusive situation. Though he was timid and nervous around people, he and Joshua connected right away. Joshua adopted him, and these two best friends now spend their days at the dog park, running, playing and exploring their neighborhood.
Leia was underweight and very tiny when Emily took her in as a foster. After syringe-feeding the sweet kitty for two weeks, Emily realized that she had stolen her heart. Leia is now happy, healthy and loving life in her forever home.
When Vivian adopted Blue, she knew nothing of the horrors the nine-month-old pup had endured at the hands of dog fighters. One of 77 dogs rescued in a multi-state dog fighting raid, Blue refused to be defined by his past. He now spends his days snuggling with Vivian, going for car rides and enjoying delicious home cooking.
Hunan and Adore were found as strays, and both were suffering from serious eye damage. They were adopted by two roommates who quickly learned that when you combine one home, two friends and countless whiskers, you can create one big loving family!
When a Vet Tech at the ASPCA Animal Hospital met a pit bull named Domingo, she thought he was just another one of her patients. But months of working with the traumatized dog brought him out of his shell and he slowly won her heart. Now, Domingo is living a life fit for a king in Alaina's home.
When Seymour arrived at the ASPCA, we could tell that he had been through a lot. Timid and shy with a face full of scars, this 70-lb. Catahoula Leopard mix needed a special adopter to bring him out of his shell. Fortunately, that perfect person came along—and our gentle giant found his perfect forever home.
Many of you followed the story of King, the one-year-old cat who was shown being brutally kicked in an online video. After recovering at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, King was adopted and is now getting the "royal treatment" in his new home.
Spike the pit bull has been through a lot. Rescued from horrific abuse and rehabilitated at the ASPCA, he waited two years for a forever home. Finally, on Christmas Eve 2013, two brothers showed up to adopt him. Spike now spends his days at their racing shop in New Jersey. He spends his nights in their warm, loving home.
At the ASPCA, we work hard to make every adoption experience as positive as possible. We hope that our dedication to our animals shines through, and when we meet adopters like Susan J.—who was so happy with our services that she came back for another pet—we feel glad that our hard work is paying off. In today’s Happy Tail, Susan gives us an update on her two ASPCA-adopted animals, Trek and Rascal.
Trek the tabby came to the ASPCA in August 2012. He and nine other cats were transferred from our local city shelter during the height of kitten season. After two months in our care, tiny Trek was ready to begin his search for a forever home, and on October 6 of that year, he met Susan.
Susan first came to us after her Yorkie, Sadie, passed away. She knew that she wanted another pet in her life, but she was busy in an academic program and didn’t have the time to devote to a dog. She decided to adopt a cat instead, so she headed to the ASPCA Adoption Center. “Trek jumped into my lap when I was deciding which cat to take home,” she recalls, and from that moment she was sold. She brought him home that very same day.
After Trek’s adoption, he began showing signs of digestive issues. “The ASPCA medical staff worked closely with me for five months and provided medical care during that time,” she says. “Because this was such a positive experience, I wanted to adopt again from the ASPCA.” Over the next couple of years, she stopped by periodically to meet our adoptable animals. In October 2014, she met a dog named Rascal.
Rascal had arrived at the ASPCA a month before Susan’s visit. A four-year-old Yorkie, he had been purchased in a pet store and neglected for most of his life. His previous owner surrendered him to the ASPCA when she could no longer afford to care for him, and he was suffering from a number of health and behavioral issues. In addition to bad teeth and kneecaps, he had never been housebroken or properly trained. Though he was a tough cookie, we knew that he deserved a second chance at life, and fortunately, Susan agreed.
“It was his face that made me know I wanted to adopt him,” Susan recalls. “Rascal looked just like Sadie!” She brought the snow white pooch home to join her and Trek, and after an admittedly difficult transition (“I wouldn’t call them close friends”), the two are now getting along.
We are so thrilled for this happy little ASPCA family. Though Rascal is still recovering from the trauma of his past, both he and Trek are making strides. After all, they share more than the same past at our Adoption Center—they share the same bright, happy future in Susan’s home, as well.
Last week, Lou and Joe decided to bring Spike for a visit to the Adoption Center and wondered if the staff would still recognize him. They didn’t wonder long, as staff soon spilled into the Adoption Center lobby, crowding around Spike, greeting him with enthusiasm and even tears.
“This is the best Christmas gift ever!” exclaimed Adoption Center Manager Ruth Allen, who rushed from her fourth floor office after hearing that Spike was in the building.
Animal Care Technician Trevor Simms, one of Spike’s primary caretakers during his 27-month stay at the ASPCA, had planned to take the day off, but didn’t. “I would have lost it,” he said. “Of all the days!”
Robin Persad, a Behavior Enrichment Coordinator, pulled out his phone and took pictures. Despite his big smile, Robin admitted having a lump in his throat. “He was our baby,” he said. “We worked with him for so long.”
Spike seemed to remember where he was and hadn’t forgotten his old friends. He burrowed his snout into Trevor’s pockets in search of treats, sat on command and made himself at home on the bench in the Adoption Center lobby.
The 75-lb. Spike has come a long way since the days when he was emaciated and locked in a basement before being rescued and rehabilitated by the ASPCA.
“He looks like a little man now, distinguished and handsome; before he was just a boy,” said Animal Care Technician Laurie Daniels, who helped coordinate the Liebermans’ visit but kept it under wraps until the last minute.
For Lou and Joe, Spike is now a “staple” at their auto shop, Procom Racing, in Toms River, New Jersey.
“He hangs out on the couch in our office and loves riding in our truck,” says Lou. This past summer, Spike accompanied the brothers to racing events in the Tri-state area, hanging out in their trailer. Joe notes that Spike’s favorite food is “anything we have for lunch,” and that Spike can open doors, even turning knobs and handles. “It’s been a great year,” Joe said.
”Great” doesn’t begin to describe it for Trevor, whose face was soaked in Spike’s kisses: “It doesn’t get better than this.”