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Happy Tails and Lessons Learned
Page One

     Our companion animals enrich our lives in many ways and teach us many lessons.  Following are some stories of rescued animals and the important lessons they taught.  Send us the story of your animal friend and let us know what you learned from him.  We will post it as an inspiration to others.

To view large photos, please click on the thumbnails.

 
     Piggy, Annie, Nevin, and Henry were four weeks old when taken from their mother, placed in a cardboard box and thrown into a canal in Brooklyn during a severe thunderstorm.  The rough current of the water washed the box up onto a crumbled stone bulkhead where they were trapped for hours until the box collapsed and Piggy, the largest, managed to crawl out and scream for help.  The kittens were infested with fleas and covered with ringworm.  Annie and Nevin had some close calls over the next several weeks, but all have grown up beautifully.  It was later learned that the people who owned their mother thought that drowning was an acceptable method of dealing with the kittens she produced three-four times a year.  The kittens’ rescuers decided the kittens had gone through enough and will keep them together for the rest of their lives. Spaying and neutering eliminates the problem of unwanted kittens and is also healthier for your cats.

     JJ   was adopted from death row at a kill shelter in New York.  He was 10 years old at the time with bad cataracts and was thought to be unadoptable.  His fur was badly matted.   He was skin and bones with one almost totally white eye, but his most noticeable characteristic was his waggy tail that showed off his merry disposition even under the worst adversity.  He’s brought great joy to his new family – both the two-legged and four-legged onesSee JJ with a new friend.   Older animals make wonderful companions. They’re not destructive, they are housebroken and much calmer than younger ones and they have just as much love to give.

      Pennywise was 10 days old when she was found between two garages in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.  Her mother was a stray who had been chased from yard to yard and must have lost Penny at some point while trying to transfer all her kittens to safety.  A resident heard the pitiful cries of the frightened, hungry kitten and went to great lengths to extract her from the narrow space where she had been dropped even though he knew he couldn’t take her in because his daughter was highly allergic.  Once she was out of immediate danger, he contacted a friend who had experience raising orphaned kittens.  Penny did very well with bottle-feedings, was adopted by her foster Mom and has grown big and strong. Never turn your back on a helpless creature who will not survive without your help.

     willie_sm.jpg (2455 bytes) Willie was adopted from a kill shelter.  His time was up and shelter workers were frantic to place him.  He certainly was not the best-looking cat in the place.  He was a gawky, scraggly tabby with short course fur, but he had won them over with his charming personality.  Although there were many adorable kittens up for adoption in the shelter, the workers placed Willie in a cage out front and begged each visitor to take him.  Their efforts paid off and he was placed in a loving home.  Don’t pick an animal solely on looks.  Remember, beauty is only skin deep.

      Larry  was adopted from a Rescue Group that had taken in more animals than it could properly care for.  He was one of dozens of sick kittens crammed into cages in a foster home.   His foster Mom had too many babies to care for so his problems went untreated.   He had ringworm, ear mites and infected eyes.  It was some months before these ailments were cleared up and many more before he purred his first purr.  The time invested in his recovery was well worth it.  He is a wonderful, loving companion today. See Larry all grown up.  Animals in rescue groups and no-kill shelters are not necessarily better off than those in kill shelters.

     Francis was thrown out of a car and lived on the street for a number of months.  He tried house after house begging for food and attention but no one was interested in another stray cat. He slowly wasted away but did not give up. He took up residence in the yard of a woman who wanted to help but already had three cats who didn’t like Francis one bit and attacked him at every opportunity.  He would sit on the porch railing and stare for hours into the house hoping to convince her to change her mind.  She didn’t, but her neighbors couldn’t bear to watch him suffer any longer and took him in where he has lived happily ever after. There’s always room for one more.

      Toby had been rescued as a tiny stray kitten and was devoted to her elderly mistress.   When the woman died suddenly, Toby lay next to her on the floor not understanding what had happened.  Emergency medical technicians removed the body but left Toby who hid under the bed when forced to leave her mistress.  No provisions had been made for her and because of her age (6 years old) she was to be euthanized.  Friends were finally located who were willing to adopt her.  Toby grieved for some time but has learned to enjoy life again. Many animals lose their lives along with their owners who made no provisions for them in case of death.

       Libbie was surrendered to a kill shelter by people who felt they were just too busy to care for her any longer.  She was only five months old and didn’t have a clue as to what she had done to deserve such a fate.  A kind soul visiting the shelter noted from the card on her cage that her time had just about run out.  She was adopted on the spot.   What a sweet, loving dog she is.  How many other wonderful animals are destroyed each day because not enough people adopt?

      Tootsie was purchased from a pet shop when she was about eight weeks old.  She would not use the litter pan and had accidents all over the house.  She also had very bad diarrhea. She lost a lot of weight and got tired easily.  She didn’t want to be bothered with anything.  It was very hard to live with her.  Her family took her to their veterinarian and found out that she had all kinds of internal parasites.  It took many months and a lot of money before she was on the road to recovery because the parasites had done a great deal of damage to her tiny body.  Always check to see if there are medical reasons for behavioral problems.  Don’t buy animals from pet shops.

     Ralph is a very big dog with lots of energy.  He wants to be on the run constantly.   He also suffers from chronic ear infections.  One warm summer day his family drove him to a park in Brooklyn.  They let him out, closed the car door and drove off without him.  He chased the car but just couldn’t catch up with them.  He must have been too much for his family to handle so they took the easy way out—easy for them—torture for him.  He wandered the streets for months. Because of his size, crooked ears and tilted head, he had a menacing appearance that frightened people away.  He had never been out on his own before and he was scared – too scared to even accept food.  He almost faded away to nothing – a shadow of a dog, darting between cars, hiding from people, sleeping in the rain.  Moved to sympathy by the plight of an animal who seemed hopeless, unlovable, untouchable, a resident started leaving food in the street.  It took weeks but she finally gained his trust enough so one night she reached out her hand to him in friendship and touched his face.  His reaction?  He whined and cried and climbed all over her – relieved to finally be coming out of his nightmare.  No shelter or rescue group could help him from the street – he had to be put in a home where his disposition could be further assessed but his new friend had cats and he was a big, powerful dog who could kill them in an instant.  She took a chance with very careful supervision and found that Ralph was a big pussycat himself.  Now there was no need to look for a home for him – he was home.  Don’t ever abandon an animal thinking he will be able to survive.   Ralph was lucky.  Most animals aren’t.  If your animal is having behavioral problems, get professional help to work through them.  He is your responsibility so act responsibly and do the right thing.

     Mary was an undersized three-month old semi-feral kitten who did not do well on the street.   During a long period of very bad weather, she got sick and very weak and could not find enough food to keep up her strength.  An untreated eye infection had left her blind in one eye.  She hid in a lot where school busses were parked and cried off and on for days but could not be located.  During a particularly bad thunderstorm she reached the end of her rope and started wailing with the little strength she had left.   Her big mouth saved her.  A resident followed the sound and put food out.   She was so starved that she left the safety of cover to devour her first meal in days.  She was grabbed, spitting, growling, scratching and biting and brought inside to safety.  Because she was never properly socialized as a little kitten, Mary will never be a lovable lap cat.  She is, however, a favorite in a house full of cats because of her fighting spirit and her will to live.  There is no greater honor to her new family than to be allowed to scratch the top of her head for an instant before she darts off.  Consider adopting an "unadoptable" animal.  They can be a great joy and give love in unconventional ways that can be very satisfying.  Think about making room for one more.

     Autie was the runt of a litter adopted from a pound in Pennsylvania.  His new "dad" was not really a cat person and determined to treat his new kitten like the dog he would have preferred.  He handled the kitten constantly, showering him with affection and attention.  Autie grew up to be a remarkable cat retaining all the wonderful attributes of a cat but also having some dog-like qualities such as his responsiveness and devotion to his dad. Kittens who are handled a lot and given much love and attention will repay you with devotion and affection a hundred-fold.

Happy Tails Page Two

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