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.”
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.