Monday, February 6, 2012

In Your Arms

Happy sunny afternoon!

We had an uncharacteristically low number of adoptions last week, but are grateful for them nonetheless!

Tuxedo kitty Handsome found a new home. Handsome was a stray, and the family who scooped him off the street came in just to visit with him several times before he found his forever family. Nell, a shy, rather rotund girl also went home--after just a few days on the adoption floor!

We're immensely excited about the adoption of black cat Stout--an affable Tom with a linebacker's physique who was growing increasingly restless in his cage. After two months of religiously providing him with exercise outside of his cage, we're glad he now has plenty of room to roam and be his Tom self all day long.


One dog went home last week: Prince. Prince is a Lab/Newfie mix who wandered Riverside Avenue for months and months and months--evading concerned community members and even Burlington Animal Control--before our humane investigator lured him into a huge live trap with Kentucky Fried Chicken. Dog rescuers know that KFC is always your best bet when it comes to catching a dog (sans bones, of course)! Prince had a wonderful journey here--from a skittish guy with no trust or confidence, to a loveable charmer who delights in a good snuggle.

Our featured animal this week is not an adoptee, but a "Return To Owner." Howard's story is testament to the conscientious dedication of our lost cat coordinator, Amanda Sorrell.

None of you would know Howard, who never made it out of isolation while he was here. It all started just two weeks ago, on a day we were closed, when one of our staff witnessed a car pulling up to the shelter, and the driver depositing a cat carrier in the parking lot. Apparently the driver yelled out the window of the car that she was delivering a stray, and then drove off. (While we're grateful that our community takes initiative to help strays, incidents like this put a kink in the works, because our system is set up for appointments only.) Thereby, we met Howard. 

Howard is a long-haired Tuxedo cat with big, sleepy yellow eyes. He was a nice enough guy during his medical check-in, but had a runny nose and gurgly breathing--likely indicators of an upper respiratory infection. And so into an isolation room Howard went.

Enter lost cat extraordinaire, Amanda. Amanda's professional motto is, "If it were my cat or dog missing, I'd want someone going the extra mile to find him!" And so that's exactly what she does. We keep a log book here of lost cat reports, and strongly encourage the public to report their missing cats to us. After taking down key information about the cat in question, we offer advice on how best to proceed, and make follow-up calls every couple of weeks to see if there's been any progress. Finally, we check each stray that comes in against all of our reports. But Amanda goes even further than that. After leaving work every evening, she heads home, logs onto, and reads through each new lost animal posting. That's how she found Howard's people.

Last Wednesday, Amanda burst into our administrative area, where our shelter management team was meeting, held up the craigslist posting she'd printed out, and said, "Isn't that Howard?" 
Indeed it was! Amanda replied to the anonymous email on the ad. On Friday, a woman came into the shelter to fill out a missing cat report for her kitty, Bear. As a member of our adoption staff took down the information, she heard a few bells going off in her head. "Wait a minute … this is Howard!" she said. Indeed--Howard's mom had not seen Amanda's email yet, but had fortunately come in anyway. Howard/Bear went home with her then and there, and the reunion was a joyous one. Just goes to show that it's useful to cover as many bases as possible when it comes to locating missing pets!

Other essential tips: remember to provide a photo, as well as details about any distinctive features! We had a kitty here dubbed "Ike" who'd been brought in as a stray. Cats don't get much more distinctive-looking than Ike, who was white with two black spots on his nose that looked like flared nostrils. His mom had filled out a report for him as soon as he'd gone missing--and that could have been enough to reunite them. But unfortunately, she didn't provide a photo or mention his funny nose when we asked about distinctive markings. So Ike spent three months at the shelter until Amanda was finally given a photo for his report. Of course, it became immediately evident at that point that Ike had had a home to go to all along!

The most touching story of a lost cat being found belongs to Einstein. Einstein is a 13-year-old declawed male kitty who came to us in terrible shape. His coat was a wreck, he was wobbly and half-starved, and all of the fur on his front paws was missing. You can imagine how especially difficult the stray life is for kitties who have no claws. As our med supervisor checked Einstein in, we had little hope that this cat could even make it through his shelter experience--but reserved any further judgment until our visiting veterinarian could see him.

The woman who brought Einstein to us created a "Found" poster for him with a notification that he was at HSCC. Fortunately, Einstein's family saw the poster and came here looking for him. He'd been missing for months, and was the special companion of a son who had tragically passed.  I was in the room when staff set Einstein's carrier down on the table in front of mother and son and opened the door. The mother took one look at the forlorn kitty and burst into tears. He was nearly unrecognizable. It was a sad case, but thank goodness Einstein's family found him at that pivotal point. We hope he has fully recovered and is living comfortably again.

Perhaps the worst feeling to accompany a pet gone missing is helplessness. Our mission is to help the families of missing pets feel as empowered as possible by providing multiple avenues of recourse. And with Amanda at the helm of our lost cat program, the temporarily bereft can rest assured that someone is going the extra mile to restore their beloved companion to them again. 



Joanne said...

It's inspiring to read about the effort that goes into reconnecting lost cats with their families!

MOM :) said...

ATTA GIRL DD Amanda :)!!!