There are many forms of animal cruelty, some more overt than others. But while every instance is shameful, one of the saddest forms cruelty can take is also one of the least visible: abandonment. For a pit bull puppy named Bluebell, life began with the loneliness of neglect, but fortunately, it led to a happy home bursting with love. Here is her Happy Tail.
In May 2014, Bluebell and four other dogs were found abandoned in a Brooklyn home after the home was burglarized. It’s hard to say how long the dogs had been alone in that house, but at just seven months old, Bluebell was clearly starved for love and attention. To help meet those needs, we decided to place the puppy in a temporary foster home until she was older and ready for permanent adoption. We contacted Keith F., a former vet tech at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, who agreed to foster Bluebell in June.
Keith already had a full house with the two cats he adopted from the ASPCA in 2007 and 2009, “Johnny 4 Fingers” and “The Dude.” Though he wasn’t planning on expanding his family in any permanent manner, it didn’t take long before Bluebell began to work her magic. “The day I brought her home, she curled up in my lap the whole drive home,” he recalls. By the time he arrived at his ocean-side apartment in Rockaway, Queens, he was in love. “When I saw her smiling on the beach, I knew she was home.”
After that, the next few months were a mere formality. “I pretty much made the decision to keep her the day I brought her home,” Keith laughs. “After that, it was just waiting to sign the papers.” And Blu—as she’s now called—really hit the jackpot. Keith says: “She is loving life out here. She gets to go to the beach and run as long as the weather permits. She loves the dog park. She has two best friends and neighbors that she gets to play with a few times a week, and she has two cats to play with (even if they don’t always want to play with her).”
The fact that Blu began life in a lonely, abandoned house makes it that much more satisfying to see her in a home so full of love. When we asked Keith how he knew Blu was the right dog for him, he said, “I didn’t—she knew she was right for me.” Congrats, Blu!
Over the years, we’ve united thousands of people with pets: couples with kittens, retirees with a dog, roommates with cats, you name it. But through all the various adoptions, one thing has always been clear: there is no one way to define a family. In today’s Happy Tail, we check in on two cats from very different backgrounds who ended up in one loving home. Here is the story of Chester and Elsa.
Chester and Elsa both came to the ASPCA in September, 2014, but that’s about as far as their similarities go. Elsa was transferred from the local city shelter (NYCACC) and at three years old, the little grey lady was confident, friendly and eager to find a home. Four-year-old Chester, on the other hand, had overcome a more difficult past. Abandoned in the Bronx, New York, Chester sustained physical trauma before being rescued by the ASPCA. He had to have his right eye removed, a laceration on his left hind leg repaired and a neuter surgery performed before he was ready to be adopted. Fortunately for both cats, Christina B. and her husband, Jim, came to the ASPCA Adoption Center at just the right moment.
“When our beloved rescue Persian passed away this summer, we were devastated,” Christina recalls. “We didn’t think we would adopt again so soon, but our home felt empty without a cat and we really wanted to rescue another animal.” She and Jim came to the ASPCA on October 1, about one month after both Chester and Elsa had arrived.
Thinking that it would be nice to adopt two pets for companionship, Christina and Jim met a few pairs of bonded cats at our Adoption Center, but none seemed the perfect fit. That’s when a volunteer introduced them to Elsa. “She was so striking, and she stepped out of her cage right onto Jim’s lap wanting love,” Christina says. Though Chester and Elsa weren’t bonded—in fact, it’s likely that they had not interacted much at all—Christina spotted the dark grey boy and was instantly intrigued.
“While Jim was rubbing Elsa, Chester, with his sweet one-eyed stare, was meowing to us across the room,” she recalls. “He stepped out, rubbed against our legs, allowed me to hold him, and they immediately felt like family!” The couple adopted both cats that day and headed home to begin a new life together in their Bronx apartment.
Though Chester and Elsa weren’t bonded or related, they soon became the best of friends. “We were pleasantly surprised by how quickly they acclimated,” says Christina. The two cats love snuggling together, playing (“they sound like wild horses running through our apartment!”) and sharing windowsills while they nap in the sun. Their favorite game is hide-and-seek, and Christina says they are a joy to watch.
“Elsa talks to all three of us constantly, and her favorite spot in the middle of the night is on our heads,” laughs Christina. “Chester is our quiet, gentle little boy who loves to have his head rubbed. We feel so blessed and we’re pretty sure they do, too!”
Congratulations to this fabulous foursome for proving that it only takes one thing to form a family: love!
When an animal survives a harrowing ordeal, it makes it that much more meaningful when they find a loving home. For a tiny Maltese/Yorkie named Chali, a freezing January morning set the stage for a warm, cozy future, and we can’t help but think that his “Happy Tail” was written in the cards. Here is his story.
On January 5, 2014, Chali was found wandering as a stray in Crotona Park in the Bronx, New York. It was the height of the “Polar Vortex,” and temperatures that day hovered in the low 20s. A Good Samaritan spotted Chali lost in the snow and brought him to the ASPCA. At only seven pounds, the four-year-old pup was shy, shivering, and in desperate need of a home.
At the ASPCA Animal Hospital, Chali received a medical exam and was deemed healthy. He was soon neutered and placed into our office foster program so he could recover from his surgery in the care of our staff until he was ready for adoption.
While all of this was happening, an ASPCA employee named Missy G. was working on plans for the ASPCA Bergh Ball, an annual fundraising event in New York City. A member of our Special Events Department, Missy was coordinating a photo shoot for a custom deck of playing cards featuring adoptable animals from the ASPCA. By chance, the day of the photo shoot was the same day Chali came to the Adoption Center.
“I picked him up and brought him to the shoot,” Missy recalls. “He was the first dog we shot and he ended up being the Ace of Clubs.” While Missy worked on the project over the next few weeks, she continued to visit Chali, and slowly but surely, he stole her heart. “On the last day of shooting, I decided I couldn’t just leave him behind and I brought him home with me,” she says.
Missy changed Chali’s name to Rocky, and in the year since his adoption, the pair has become inseparable. He still comes to the ASPCA office for regular visits. “From the moment he walked into our home, it was like he had always been there,” Missy beams. “He was the perfect addition to our family and I love him more than anything.”
It’s hard to believe that anyone could abandon a dog like Rocky, but it’s clear that he is finally where he was always meant to be. He may have been the “Ace of Clubs” in our deck of cards, but to Missy, he’s the King of Hearts.
Kittens and puppies are cute as can be, but there’s something about senior pets that is undeniably special. Older animals often have a calm wisdom that their younger counterparts lack—but their age can make it more difficult to find them a home. Such was the case with Adrienne, a sweet senior cat who was adopted and returned to the ASPCA after eight years. Though it’s heartbreaking to see an animal lose their family, it made us that much more determined to find her a home that would last. Fortunately, Katherine D. showed up and gave her the “Happy Tail” she deserved.
Adrienne was adopted in 2005 when she was a little over one year old. In September 2014, after eight years together, her previous owner returned the fetching feline because she was moving to a place that didn’t allow animals. Adrienne was now ten years old—officially a “senior”—and in need of a new home. She was diagnosed with untreated asthma and bronchitis and began a steroid prescription to alleviate her discomfort. After five weeks of treatment, she was ready for adoption, and luckily, Katherine D. walked through our door at just the right moment.
Katherine grew up with many pets from shelters like the ASPCA, but it had been a number of years since she herself had been a pet parent. Once her son grew up and moved into his own apartment, the timing finally felt right for her to adopt. “Now that things are calmer, I thought it would be nice to have a pet again,” she said, so she began browsing adoptable cats on the ASPCA website. That’s when she spotted Adrienne.
“I saw Adrienne on the ASPCA website and I loved the way her face looked,” Katherine recalls. “She looked mellow and sweet and had beautiful eyes.” Katherine was also drawn toward Adrienne’s age, thinking that an older cat might enjoy lots of petting and be a good lap-cat. So she headed to the ASPCA Adoption Center with Adrienne “at the top of her list.”
Katherine’s first meeting with Adrienne did not disappoint. She recalls, “I could tell she was calm when we opened her habitat. She had the sweet face I’d seen on the website, and she didn’t seem jumpy or nervous.” Vets at the adoption center informed Katherine of Adrienne’s asthma and told her that she would need a once-daily pill for the foreseeable future. Adrienne said, “I was happy to look after her and give her medicine, and since she was older and had been returned, I knew she really deserved a quiet home where she could rest and be un-stressed.” She adopted Adrienne that day.
At Katherine’s Brooklyn apartment, Adrienne settled in right away. “When she came out of her carrier, she didn’t even try to run and hide,” Katherine recalls. “I just sat on the floor with her and she immediately wanted me to pet her…a lot.” It was the perfect fit, and in the weeks that followed, Katherine and Adrienne’s bond only grew. She now often calls her “Lady Adrienne,” as she acts very regal and thinks she’s a Queen!
“I think Adrienne is happy in her new home,” Katherine says. “She sleeps in the sun, hops up to come see me when I get home and basically sits near me wherever I am. She’s the perfect cat for me.” Though it took Adrienne eight years to find Katherine, we’re pretty sure this is one “forever home” that will truly last forever.
If you’re interested in adopting a senior pet, check out the ASPCA’s dogs and cats over the age of three.
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.