When Saving Lives Takes a Social Media Village
When Instagram went down earlier this month — at the same time that Facebook was undergoing intense public scrutiny — people around the world felt the impact. Many pointed out the serious problems with social media, and I agree — there are many. But like everything we humans invent, social media can be used for both good and ill. And when it comes to animal rescue, the positive far outweighs the negative.
Take, for example, the story of The Porch Kitty, a sweet little grey Tabby. It begins in Coventry, Connecticut, where a family woke up one morning to find an abandoned kitten stuffed into a tiny carrier and left on their porch. No note, no information, nothing.
A neighbor named Shannon, despite being highly allergic, took in the kitten and set her up in her bathroom. That’s when I heard about the situation and posted on Instagram that I was looking for someone who would pick up the kitten and help get her to me. My Instagram community is so incredible, and the response on IG was overwhelming. So many people volunteered to take part in this “relay rescue” and bring this kitten to safety.
Next up was Amanda, who drove to Shannon’s house, scooped up The Porch Kitten, and brought her to her home, which is farther south in Connecticut. That’s when Kate from Queens took over and drove to Amanda’s to meet this friendly, super-delicious little girl and drive her to my partners at North Shore Animal League America on Long Island.
Kate (left) and Amanda exchange their precious cargo
during their lifesaving road trip.
A lot must have happened during that last car ride, because by the time they arrived at their destination, Kate and The Porch Kitten had fallen in love. After she was vaccinated and spayed, the kitten lost her old name, acquired a new one, Darling, and joined Kate and her new cat sibling, Dash. The two are still getting used to each other (left) but making progress every day.
Shannon, Amanda, and Kate! My IG friends are the best. They make so much of what I do possible and joyful. And that applies to all my colleagues, including those like the wonderful Lisa at @dutchieandrenee rescue in New Jersey, which focuses on seniors and hospice cats.
When I heard about a senior kitty in New Jersey named Maxie, a 12-year-old Calico who’d ended up in a shelter after her human passed away, I immediately thought of Lisa and asked her to pull Maxie from the shelter for me. Poor kitty was so sad, sitting in a cage after spending her entire life in a home with someone who loved her.
This is an all-too-familiar scenario these days. So many senior cats have lost their people and found themselves alone in a strange and scary new world. It breaks my heart that these trusting animals are at the mercy of uncaring people, including family members of the deceased who know how much their loved one valued his or her pet and yet take that beloved animal companion to a shelter and simply walk away. Such a betrayal! Luckily, Maxie found her way to us, and I am so grateful for Lisa’s help.
Maxie is a super-mush who formed a quick bond with Howard. In fact, she became his new girlfriend. The brilliant Dr. Jackie at Long Island Veterinary Specialists extracted five rotting teeth. It broke my heart that she was living with such pain. She is a gentle soul for a gentle family, and she went home with just such a lovely couple only a few weeks after coming to us. The heart on her shoulder
(above) says it all.
At left, our amazing Maxie meets her new parents, and my heart is full! I love her new name, Tonki. She didn’t know the name Maxie anyway, because. I think she was named Maxie at the shelter where her deceased human’s family dropped her off.
Sadly, Maxie’s former human declawed her, which absolutely drives me insane when I hear about it. I’m certain the person loved Maxie and perhaps didn’t realize that declawing is a barbaric, unnecessary, and excruciating procedure — an amputation of the last joint of a cat’s toes!! While it’s meant to correct one unwanted behavior — scratching furniture — it often leads to other unwanted behaviors, like litterbox issues and biting. Scratching is a natural and instinctive behavior in cats that, when thwarted, can lead to all kinds of problems.
Declawing is now illegal in more than 40 countries around the world, as well as in New York State (YAY!) and in several American cities from Austin to San Francisco.
So, you can imagine how excited I was when in late September, my mom sent me an article from my hometown newspaper about the Pittsburgh City Council approving legislation to ban declawing within the city limits!! I’m sending a big shout-out to Pittsburgh, and I can’t wait until declawing is banned everywhere!
Sweet foster Arthur gives a high-five claw salute to Pittsburgh
October is a busy month on the pet calendar. It’s National Pet Wellness Month, with the 13th as Pet Obesity Awareness Day, the 16th Global Cat Day, the 27th National Black Cat Day, and the 29th as National Cat Day. Each of these special days is a reminder of how important it is to pay special attention to our pets’ health and wellbeing. So, if you haven’t taken your pet to the vet recently, October is a perfect time to do it — before the snow and cold of winter set in.
Beautiful Mamma Etta Jane gave birth to six adorable, healthy kittens.
Now it’s time for her to be a kitten again.
Then there’s Halloween, a holiday that brings out the kid in all of us! But as fun as it is, Halloween presents safety hazards and outright danger for our pets. Plus, the Halloween traditions that we love don’t always entertain our pets. In fact, what we find funny-scary, our pets often find downright terrifying! So, I think it’s always a good idea to revisit some the safety suggestions surrounding Halloween to keep pets safe and stress-free. My partners at North Shore Animal League America have put together a great list, which I hope you’ll visit at www.animalleague.org/halloweensafety.
At right: Dr. Jackie at Long Island Veterinary Specialists and The Veterinary Voice brought this excellent advice to my attention, which I want to share with you.
At left: Proof of the unexpected power of social media. I’m not sure how I found this, but it was first posted by a nonprofit in Swindon, England, that provides a variety support for children. From there it went to someone named Marsha Hanbery. I do not know her, but my research indicates that she’s an animal advocate living in Alabama. And now, here it is, excellent advice that comes to you via the power of the worldwide web!
Yes, social media has its problems, but it has some incredible benefits, too.
Pass it on!
P. S. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, and because I love showcasing dogs at North Shore Animal League America, I hope you’ll
take a look at Alice, Rocko, and Nala. They all need homes!!!
ALICE, a Georgia rescue, was abandoned late in her pregnancy when her owners moved and left her alone in the house. Now that her pups have flown the “nest,” this pretty, young Pittie mix is looking for a home of her own where she can be the only pet and queen of her castle. She’s housetrained and handles well on leash but would still benefit from the guidance of an experienced adopter.
Due to her size, apartment life is not for Alice. What she needs is a suburban home with a fenced-in yard, with children over 16 who can keep up with her energy. A meet and greet is recommended for the entire family to ensure a perfect match. If you’d like to learn more about Alice, contact the Animal League America Adoption Center in Port Washington, N.Y. at 516-883-7900.
ROCKO, an adorable, senior Cattledog mix, was adopted as a puppy and has never lived anyplace but in a home. Now his elderly owner is unable to care for him, and Rocko is looking for a fresh start. He would do best in a family as the only pet, and with children who are 12 or older.
Understandably, Rocko is anxious in these new surroundings and needs some comforting. Can you give this sweet dog the love he is missing? If you’d like to learn more about Rocko, contact the Animal League America Adoption Center in Port Washington, N.Y. at 516-883-7900.
NALA, another Georgia rescue, is a Terrier/Boxer Mutt-i-gree about a year old who has struggled to find the right home. She’s friendly, housetrained, good with dogs and kids over 12, but she is very high energy and needs lots of exercise and an experienced owner. Sadly, she’s been returned twice. But we’re committed to finding her the home she deserves, because with the right training Nala will shine. If you’d like to learn more about Nala, contact the Animal League America Adoption Center in Port Washington, N.Y. at 516-883-7900.
P. P. S. SAVE THE DATE for Animal League America’s Virtual Celebration of Rescue, Thursday, November 18. Join me for special guests, entertainment, an auction, and surprises as we relive some of 2020’s highlights and explore how Animal League America’s no-kill mission continues to save lives and influence animal rescue around the world.