When Thomas H. was suffering from trauma and depression, his doctor suggested that a pet might help. Thomas agreed to look into it, but little did he know that a tiny kitten named Jonny would do more than provide comfort—he would change Thomas’s life forever. Here is their very Happy Tail of hope, healing and new beginnings.
Jonny arrived at the ASPCA in May when he was barely four weeks old. It was the height of kitten season, and Jonny, along with seven other siblings, was transferred from Animal Care & Control of NYC. Weighing only eight ounces at the time, he was put on a strict feeding schedule and received round-the-clock care from staff at the ASPCA Animal Hospital. By early August, he was strong, healthy, and ready to begin his search for a forever home.
While all of this was happening, Thomas had taken his doctor’s advice to heart. Not content to just pick out a pet willy-nilly, he prepared for his visit to the ASPCA Adoption Center by reading books on feline science and behavior. He was determined to not only heal his own emotional wounds, but to give some lucky kitten the best life possible, too. On August 20, he was finally ready to take that step: he went to the ASPCA and adopted Jonny.
Back at home, Thomas changed Jonny’s name to O’Reilly, and over the next few weeks the teeny kitty settled in. He explored every nook and cranny of Thomas’s apartment and discovered that he loves to spend his days basking in the sun. But the feline’s connection with his new adopter went deeper than a happy home—O’Reilly proved to be just what the doctor ordered.
“O’Reilly has been of such assistance to me,” says Thomas. “He began as a therapy animal, and I cannot express how much he has been transformative.” As their bond grew, O’Reilly and Thomas helped each other more and more. “My spells of depression are lifted when he wants to play (which is often). His peace is my peace, where I previously had none,” he says.
It’s been four months since this duo found each other, and their bond is already unbreakable. “O’Reilly is now my reference point for a present outlook on life,” Thomas beams. “He is often either curled by my chest or is present on call. His return is immeasurable.”
We are so happy that this tiny street kitten has found such a loving home. Thomas says, “O’Reilly has given me meaning, belongingness and calm.” He adds, “I thank you all at the ASPCA for giving me this comfort,” but we are the ones who want to thank him for giving little O’Reilly the best life imaginable.
In July, we told you the story of Peppah, a Chihuahua who was separated from her family in the wake of domestic violence. Today we have a happy update on Peppah’s story.
In the fall of 2013, Maria*, 34, escaped domestic violence with her children but couldn’t find a single shelter in New York City that was willing to accept her dog, Peppah. She turned to Urban Resources Institute (URI), a non-profit agency that provides shelter for domestic violence survivors and their pets. The creation of its PALS Program (People and Animals Living Safely) established New York City’s first and only domestic violence shelter that allows pets.
But Maria and Peppah’s story didn’t end there. When the time came for the family to move out of URI and into transitional housing, Maria was unable to bring Peppah with her. For eight long months, she and her children were separated from their dog, who was sent to live in a foster home. They visited Peppah twice during their time apart, but ached for a more permanent reunion. “We always spoke about Peppah as if she were here—even though she wasn’t,” said Maria. “She was never far from our minds.”
On Friday, December 12, Maria and her children were joyfully reunited with Peppah. Dara Ruiz and Colleen Doherty, of the ASPCA’s CIA (Cruelty Intervention Advocacy) team, facilitated the reunion by driving Peppah to the five-story walk-up where Maria waited.
“Where’s my baby?!” she squealed as Peppah, clad in a red sweater, squealed back before leaping into Maria’s arms and licking her face. Inside the apartment, Maria’s children couldn’t contain their excitement, either. They smiled and laughed at the arrival of their beloved pet and took turns cuddling her. Peppah lapped it up, climbing onto their shoulders and bounding on and off the lower bunk bed, her tail wagging non-stop.
“I’m so overly grateful, I’ve been crying all week,” said Maria, brushing aside tears. “All we wanted for Christmas was our dog, and now she’s here.”
Colleen and Dara left dog food, treats and other items for Peppah, and the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals paid the pet deposit fee for the family’s new apartment.
On Monday, December 15, Maria and her children—both two- and four-legged—were together again, packed up in their car and off to a new home, just in time for the holidays.
From Canine Good Citizens® to therapy cats, animals are known to have a healing power. It’s why so many pet adopters say, “I didn’t rescue him, he rescued me.” In the case of a Chihuahua named Nico, this mantra couldn’t be more true. Although the 7 lb. pup went through some tough times, he proved to be just what the doctor ordered for his new adopters. Here is their Happy Tail.
Nico was purchased from a pet store by his previous owner a few years ago. When that owner passed away in the fall of 2014, his family surrendered the tiny dog to the ASPCA. Though it must have been hard to lose his home, Nico was a trooper. A bit shy at first, he soon warmed up to the staff at the ASPCA Adoption Center, and we were confident that he would make some adopters very happy. On October 25, he did just that.
Michael and his husband had never been to the Adoption Center, but they met Nico on their first visit and were sure he was the right dog. “I knew that he was for me because he seemed so calm,” recalls Michael. Michael’s husband has a neurological condition, and they were looking for a dog that would be content to snuggle and lay on his lap all the time. “Nico fits the bill!” says Michael. “I even bought him a different bed, but he prefers our bed in order to be nearer to us.”
While Michael admits that Nico seems grateful for his new forever home, he also acknowledges the great impact that petite pooch has had on their lives. “Nico is very good for my husband’s condition. He is very kind and humble,” he says. “Nico is happy with anyone.” We are so glad that this sweet dog is able to give and receive so much love, and we wish this happy family all the best in their new life together!
For a little pit bull puppy named Paysley, life hasn’t always been easy. By the time she was just four months old, Paysley had lived in three homes—and one Adoption Center—in the New York City area. But this rambunctious little pup was determined to make it, and now she’s living the good life she deserves. Here is Paysley’s Happy Tail.
Paysley and her four siblings, Payton, Pippin, Portland and Patzy, were born in April 2014. Their mother’s owner was not expecting a litter of puppies, and was unable to care for them or give them the attention they needed. At the tender age of five weeks, all five puppies were rescued by the ASPCA.
At the ASPCA Animal Hospital, Paysley and her siblings were treated for a number of health issues, including hookworm and coccidiosis (a parasitic infection). Paysley herself was suffering from a urinary tract infection and had frequent accidents. The pups were spayed/neutered, and at the end of July, they moved into the ASPCA Adoption Center to begin their search for forever homes.
On July 31, Paysley was adopted—but after a couple of weeks, Paysley’s new adopter realized that she couldn’t handle a rowdy young puppy. She was preparing to return Paysley to the ASPCA when a coworker named Rachel expressed interest in the dog. Rachel asked if she could take Paysley for a Saturday as a sort of “test date,” and by the end of the day, she had fallen in love. On August 14, Paysley was officially transferred into Rachel’s care.
“I wanted to give her a chance to flourish in a loving, secure home,” Rachel says. She changed Paysley’s name to Isabeau, and the two have been inseparable ever since. “Isabeau has a great personality, is very social and she is adorable!” she adds.
Though Isabeau was barely four months old at the time, Rachel’s apartment was already her third home. Fortunately, she settled in easily. “There wasn’t any adjustment time—she made herself right at home,” Rachel says. “She is great to be around and is very affectionate. She is energetic and loves to play and is a great addition to my life!”
We are so grateful that Isabeau’s story worked out, and her four siblings have found happy homes as well. It was a long journey for such a young dog, but ultimately, she ended up exactly where she belongs.
In 2011, a group of 20 cats came to the ASPCA from our local city shelter, Animal Care & Control of NYC (AC&C). Within three months, 19 of those cats had been adopted—but one kitty named Basha was struggling to find a home. A black-and-white, 1.5-year-old “teenager,” Basha was feisty and had a tendency to snap without provocation. We thought she would find a home soon enough, but nearly four years in our care proved that wasn’t the case. Though it was a long road, Basha finally found her forever home with an ASPCA staffer named Kelelyn. This is her very well-deserved Happy Tail.
During Basha’s first six months at the ASPCA Adoption Center, we learned a lot about her. A rambunctious little girl prone to overstimulation, she had never learned to play nicely. She seemed to think that hands were toys meant to be chewed, and she was far too spirited to be contained in a cage. Sensing her need for space, we enrolled Basha in the ASPCA office foster program and moved her into the office of one of our team members. That’s when she first met Kelelyn, who worked nearby in the ASPCA’s Marketing & Licensing division.
“Basha was a highly reactive kitty, full of mischief and spunk,” Kelelyn recalls. “Unfortunately, she was also a very rough player.” Basha’s playful—and sometimes painful—sneak attacks were often mistaken for aggression, and understandably not well received by most people. But over the next two years, Kelelyn got to know the feisty feline on a more personal level. “She was always up to comical antics that made me laugh, and sometimes she would curl up in my lap and just purr,” she says. She realized that Basha had a good heart and was just, as she puts it, “deeply misunderstood.”
As Basha was continually passed over for adoption, Kelelyn could tell that the kitty was becoming increasingly frustrated. “Basha wanted to run, wrestle and release all that extra energy!” she says. Though Kelelyn already had two senior special-needs kitties, she decided that she wanted to bring Basha home.
Kelelyn admits that she had concerns about Basha clashing with her other cats, but as it turned out, boisterous Basha is actually quite shy! “I was prepared for a rough transition period, but my worries were unfounded,” she says. Standoffish at first, Basha soon warmed up to her new feline companions. She even befriended Kelelyn’s older cat, Rocky, who allowed her to play with his tail.
Sadly, Rocky passed away a month after Basha’s arrival. “It was a devastating loss for me,” says Kelelyn, “and I was grateful to Basha for helping me feel a little better.” Though Kelelyn didn’t plan on adopting another cat any time soon, a stray kitten soon showed up on her doorstep and joined the family as well. She named him Rupert.
“Basha was a little afraid of Rupert at first (he weighed four pounds at the time), but now she and Roo are totally best friends and playmates,” Kelelyn says. “They wrestle and chase each other, share toys, and never hiss or have real fights.” Rupert doesn’t even mind Basha’s rough playing—in fact, he plays rough right back.
We couldn’t imagine a more fairytale ending for Basha. Though it took four years, she found the perfect adopter in Kelelyn—and the perfect playmate in Rupert. Congratulations to this happy new family!