For animals that are shy, fearful or undersocialized, a foster home can act as the perfect stepping stone on the road to adoption. Foster parents provide individualized attention and care that helps pets acclimate to home life, and the ASPCA is so grateful to all the fosters who have opened their hearts to our furry friends. In honor of National Foster Care Month, we’re sharing the success story of one foster feline named Torvald.
Torvald arrived at the ASPCA in March 2013. Found as a stray in Brooklyn, New York, the four-year-old cat was incredibly shy, timid and fearful. He was frightened of toys, strangers, noise and movement, and at the ASPCA Animal Hospital he was diagnosed with a heart murmur. He was the perfect candidate for foster care.
We sent Torvald to live with a foster named Ellen, and she quickly observed many of the traits we had seen at the hospital. “Torvald is a scaredy cat,” she reported. “When a neighbor stopped by briefly, he retreated into his closet for a full day. He is terrified of aluminum foil—even when I just reach for the box—and he runs away when I reach for the oven door.” It was clear that living in a home was a new experience for Torvald, but under Ellen’s care he soon began to improve.
“Torvald has become my buddy,” Ellen stated a few weeks later. “He hangs around with me all day, looks out the window and sleeps on my bed.” She also reported that while he was originally scared of toys, he had begun to explore and enjoy playtime. “I’ve really come to like him. He’s a good cat and he deserves a wonderful home.”
After his transformational experience in foster care, Torvald was finally ready to begin his search for a permanent family. He was transferred back to the ASPCA Adoption Center, and fortunately, it wasn’t long before he met Alix and her boyfriend, Joe.
“I wanted a companion who was independent, clever and loving,” said Alix of her quest for a pet. She and Joe had never been to the ASPCA before were immediately drawn to Torvald. “It was his eyes!” she recalls. “He tilted his head back, looked up, down, left and right, and finally straight ahead at me. He looked just like Toothless from How To Train Your Dragon, and I wanted to protect him and give him the world from that one look.” She and Joe adopted Torvald and changed his name to Regimus, or Reggie for short.
We told Alix and Joe that Reggie might take some time to come out of his shell, but she was happy to report that, “after only 10 minutes in his new home, he was taking selfies with us!” She says that although he always has a hiding place ready, he is a loving presence who enjoys when they play hip-hop and R&B music in the house. “What made my heart melt the most was when we called him by his new name and his head popped up, eyes glistening, and he walked over to us. We were on the same wavelength and that moment confirmed that he fell for us like we did for him,” Alix says.
Reggie’s journey from “scaredy cat” to beloved pet wasn’t always easy, but he is living proof that sometimes, a little extra love and care is all it takes. Thanks to an amazing network of behaviorists, fosters and adopters, this is one sweet kitty who is living the “Happy Tail” of his dreams.
Many of you may remember the story of Chuck. In 2013, he was abandoned with hind leg fractures outside of a New York City park. It was a frigid December day, and Chuck, unable to walk, had been left for dead. At the ASPCA Animal Hospital, the 2-year-old pit bull received surgery and underwent intensive physical therapy, and by the summer of 2014 he was ready for a forever home. It was an inspiring recovery, and today we are thrilled to bring you Chuck’s Happy Tail.
The first few years of Chuck’s life were anything but easy. At the time of his abandonment, he was suffering from an untreated joint disease in addition to the painful hind leg fractures. But his rescue from the cold was just the beginning of his journey: It took six months of surgery, hydrotherapy and treadmill work to help him regain the use of his legs, only after which we could begin the search for his forever home. Chuck was a happy, energetic pup, but his needs were extensive and we knew it might take some time to find a dedicated adopter. We decided to share his story with the world, and fortunately, fiancés Joan and Christian heard our message loud and clear.
Joan recalls her first impression of Chuck fondly. “Christian and I saw him on the ASPCA website and cried at his story,” she says. “Within minutes of reading about him and watching his video, we decided to adopt Chuck.” For Christian, the connection was personal. He says, “Chuck’s story hit home with me. I’ve had a few surgeries on my leg and I have a big pin in my hip…I gravitated right to him.”
Neither Joan nor Christian had been to the ASPCA before, but they couldn’t wait to get to the Adoption Center and meet the 40-lb. pooch in person. “We knew we loved Chuck as soon as we met him,” Joan says. “We wanted to give him a loving home and a chance for a happy life.” Although Chuck had made amazing progress during his six months in our care, he would always have special needs, so we made sure the couple was fully aware of his requirements. They were unshaken. “Who could resist that face?!” Joan laughs.
At the couple’s apartment in Queens, New York, Chuck made himself right at home. “It was as if he’d lived with us forever,” says Joan. The sweet pup is loving his new life and seems to have forgotten all about the hardship he’s been through. He’s got a constant smile and wagging tail, and Joan says, “Christian and I couldn’t be more in love with him. We were meant to be.”
To see Chuck in his happy new home, check out the video below. Congratulations, Chuck!
Animals are known for their good instincts, so it seems only logical that they would know when they’ve arrived in the perfect place. That’s why, when Kurby the cat’s previous litter-box issues vanished in her new home, we knew she had found the forever family of her dreams. Here is her Happy Tail.
Kurby was found as a stray in Harlem, New York, last fall. A year-and-a-half old at the time, the 7-lb. Calico was timid and developed a reputation for being a bit of a grump. We knew that her perfect home was out there, but we also knew that cute Kurby would be picky—and we were right.
In early November, Kurby was adopted. She spent two days in her new home but refused to use the litter-box, instead leaving “accidents” all around the apartment. The adopters sensed that it wasn’t a good fit, so they returned her to the ASPCA to try again. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before Kurby met Liann and her boyfriend, Carl.
“When we first met Kurby, she was curled up in the corner of her kennel, not really interested in making eye-contact,” says Liann, whose sister Karen first spotted the shy kitty. A lifelong cat-lover, Liann had never adopted a feline of her own, and this was her first trip to the ASPCA Adoption Center. Recalling that first moment with Kurby, Liann laughs, “Carl and I felt, ‘we have to meet this grumpy kitty!’”
We informed the couple of Kurby’s litter box issues, but they had a good feeling about the quiet cat in the corner. “When we opened her kennel door, her eyes lit up and, after a small hesitancy in sniffing Carl’s extended hand, she stretched herself into purrs and pets,” says Liann. “Carl picked her up and placed her on his lap, and she gave no indication of irritation or distress.”
The couple went on to meet other animals at the Adoption Center, but they couldn’t get Kurby out of their mind and soon returned to her kennel. “When we came back to see her again and the greeting pattern remained the same, we knew she was the cat for us.”
Liann and Carl adopted Kurby that day, and, armed with knowledge of the cat’s litter box issues, “prepared to love and support her and guide her in the right direction should she need it.” But sure enough, something amazing happened when Kurby arrived in her new home: the litter box issues disappeared.
“I am very happy to report that not once has Kurby failed to make it to her box, or even slightly outside of her box!” Liann said in an update a few months later. “While she has always been a lover, I feel like she truly adopted us,” she adds. Kurby now runs to greet Liann and Carl whenever they come home, and she regularly follows the couple from one room to the next. “At night, she lies at our feet, and she chirps every time she jumps up to join us.”
Although it took two tries, Kurby made it clear that her second home was the one she had always hoped for. Liann says, “She has become such a sweet member of our family. We’ve got our little sidekick, and she’s got her forever home.”
Thanks in large part to our groundbreaking new partnership with the New York City Police Department (NYPD), the ASPCA is caring for more canine cruelty victims than ever before. To accommodate the resulting 200%+ increase in intake, we opened our Canine Annex for Recovery & Enrichment, or CARE ward, last summer in New York City. This new facility can house up to 60 dogs seized by the NYPD as part of animal cruelty investigations, and its impact thus far has been significant. To commemorate CARE’s upcoming anniversary, we wanted to share one of its very first success stories. Here is the Happy Tail of a five-year-old Boston Terrier named Chowda.
In June 2014, Chowda was seized by the NYPD from an apartment building in the Bronx, New York. Emaciated and suffering from skin disease, she weighed just 13 lbs. upon her arrival at the ASPCA. Bite wounds covered her body. Tests revealed abnormally low levels of protein in her blood, further proof that she had been deprived of proper nutrition.
Chowda weighed just 13 lbs. on the day of her intake.
Chowda spent four months recuperating in the ASPCA Animal Hospital and at the CARE annex. She was spayed and underwent a dental procedure, during which four teeth were extracted. By early September, she had gained 10 lbs.—a nearly 41% increase in body weight.
After six weeks under our care, Chowda returned to a healthy body weight.
On the day before Halloween, Chowda was adopted by Diana A. and her husband Chris of Brooklyn, New York. Chowda joined Diana and Chris’s other dog, Meisha, a two-year-old pit bull who had also been adopted from the ASPCA. Chowda and Meisha became friends immediately. “People ask us if we’ve had them together from birth,” says Diana. “We call them sisters; they are an awesome duo.”
Chowda and her new sister, Meisha.
After adopting Meisha, who came from a hoarding case, Diana and Chris decided to add a second, more confident and energetic dog to their household, and Chowda fit the bill perfectly.
According to Diana, Chowda loves to cuddle, sit on people’s laps, and “kiss everyone to death.” She and Meisha are inseparable.
Despite what Chowda’s been through, “she is resilient, forgiving, and loving,” says Diana.
On occasion, Diana takes Chowda to her office, where the perky-eared pooch has already “stolen everyone's hearts.”
“She is such an amazing soul, I can't imagine how anyone could harm her,” says Diana. “Thanks to everyone at the ASPCA who helps improve the lives of these wonderful beings.”
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!