Here are some examples of how your donations are helping shelters and rescue groups, in the organizations’ own words.
$5,000 of the grant money we received was used to sponsor our Annual Fur Ball (which is the largest fundraiser for our shelter). The HSOV Fur Ball has become one of “the” social events in our small community and tickets sell out quickly. In recent years, we have typically raised $25,000-30,000 with this fundraiser to support the operation of our shelter for the benefit of animals in our care.
The remainder of the grant money was used:
1) to supplement needed supplies (vaccines, wormer, medications, flea treatment, food, etc.) for all animals in our shelter
2) to provide veterinary care (including surgeries) for several dogs and cats
3) to replace/upgrade hinges and hardware on kennel gates
Because of this generous Petfinder Foundation grant, we will realize a larger net profit on our 2017 Fur Ball fundraiser by having a $5,000 sponsorship and not having expenses taken away from our operating fund. The income from the Fur Ball directly supports our operations and the care of animals.
Dogs and cats received the vaccines/wormer/flea treatments and antibiotics (if needed). Several were helped with veterinary care and surgery that might not have been possible without this grant. We were able to upgrade and replace broken/weakened hinges on the gates/doors of 20 kennels thanks to this grant money. New heavy-gauge brackets and hinges were fabricated and installed on those kennel gates and provided a twofold benefit: The old latches were not sturdy and bent easily, so the safety of the animals was a constant source of worry. And because the latches were bent and made the kennels difficult to open, many dogs weren’t being walked by volunteers because they couldn’t get the kennel gates open. Now ALL dogs are being walked with the new hinges in place!
The grant actually helped each and every animal in our shelter in some way, and we typically house 50-60 dogs and 60-70 cats Approximately 6 dogs and 2 cats benefited more than the others because they were able to have more extensive veterinary care and surgeries that they might not otherwise have had.
Rufus was an adorable 2-year-old gray male tabby kitty who came to the HSOV on Jan. 19, 2017, after he was found in the Vincent, Ohio, area. This handsome young man had an injury to his tail and was in a great deal of pain and desperately in need of medical attention. We immediately took him to a veterinarian who made the diagnosis that Rufus' tail should be amputated, so he spent a few days in the vet's clinic before coming back to our shelter. Rufus made a remarkable recovery and was soon ready to find a fabulous home. We had fallen so in love with this boy. He maintained his sweet, lovable personality from day one and throughout his ordeal, even though we knew he wasn't feeling like putting on a happy face. Rufus had a darling face with beautiful eyes that begged for attention (and a loving home). He had a calm, gentle disposition and the sweetest personality. Rufus purred constantly and loved to snuggle in your arms. He was given vaccinations, wormer, and Revolution flea treatment on Jan. 19. He was neutered at the same time his tail was amputated. When we took Rufus' original photos on Jan. 19, he had a red bandage on his tail and it was visible in his Petfinder/Facebook photos. He wore a cone for a couple of weeks while he recuperated. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to take updated photos of Rufus on Feb. 9, and asked him if he would mind wearing a red bow tie for some Furry Valentine pictures. We were even more thrilled when sweet Rufus was adopted on Feb. 14. What a happy Valentine’s Day gift.
Max was a sweet older adult male shepherd/husky mix who was surrendered by his family on Jan. 12, 2017, because they were no longer able to take care of him. This handsome gentleman had a short, smooth, tan-and-cream coat, a long tail, and a darling face with dark brown eyes (which seemed to be highlighted with eyeliner) and large, erect ears. Max was a friendly fellow who was good with children, other dogs, and cats. He had been kept indoors and his owner told us that he needed to be taken outdoors often for bathroom breaks. Max was listed as a special-needs dog since he had been diagnosed with demodectic mange (which is non-contagious and very treatable). He also had a bacterial/yeast infection that caused some hair loss. Max was given excellent veterinary care by a local veterinarian in Marietta, Ohio, and responded wonderfully to treatment and medicated baths. In a matter of weeks, his hair began to grow back in. Max was fairly small for his breed and weighed 60 lbs. He was neutered in early February and was also given rabies vaccine. Max yearned for a new home, a foster home, or a rescue group that would spoil him in the manner to which he wanted to become accustomed. Actually, our staff and volunteers were doing a pretty good job of that, but it wasn’t quite like having a family of his very own. On Feb. 10, 2017, Max found the home that we had dreamed of for this special guy. He left our shelter that day to live with his new family and is living a life of luxury with them in one of our historic landmarks in Marietta.
Paws is a handsome 5-year-old kitty who was surrendered by his owner on Jan. 26, 2017. This big boy is a real snuggle bunny who turns on the charm and loves being held in your arms. Paws has a medium-length, smooth gray-and-white coat, a long tail, and a mesmerizing face with intriguing markings on his muzzle. Paws was listed as a special-needs cat at the time of his arrival because of poor dental health and a possible infection in his mouth/teeth. He was placed on antibiotics in preparation for dental surgery (and thanks to this Petfinder Foundation grant, he had that surgery on March 13), and he was also neutered. Paws was combo-tested on Jan. 31 and we were saddened to discover that he is positive for FIV. This special boy is still looking for the perfect home. Meet Paws: www.petfinder.com/petdetail/37325847
The money was used to provide emergency medical care for a shelter dog. The dog was transferred to Bama Bully Rescue for emergency care and adoption placement.
We were able to save a puppy who might have otherwise been euthanized due to extensive damage to her paw, probably resulting in amputation of the foot. The amputation would have made her a less-desirable adoption prospect. The much-needed funds enabled us to provide emergency medical attention, and her paw was saved.
Morticia, a pit bull mix, was picked up as a stray in October 2016 and was placed in the Colbert County animal shelter in Alabama. She arrived with a severely damaged right front paw. The shelter did not have the resources to provide urgent care, and called Bama Bully Rescue for assistance. Bama Bully accepted her into our rescue, and transported her to Mercy Animal Hospital in Gardendale for treatment. The veterinarian, Dr. Metcalf, examined her foot to be sure that nothing was embedded or broken, and released her into foster care. The wound was quite large, and the scar tissue was causing an angular limb deformity affecting her ability to properly place the foot. Dr. Metcalf recommended cool laser treatments to promote healing and increase the pliability of the scar tissue. When the wound began to heal, one of Morticia’s toes on the right front foot began to necrose, and Dr. Metcalf removed the necrotic toe. She also eliminated an infected pocket of tissue close to the wound. Morticia continues to receive cool laser treatments in an effort to return the foot a more normal angle.
Morticia wants to thank the Petfinder Foundation for providing funds to treat her "jazz hands!" Morticia was rescued with a badly wounded right front paw. Without the Petfinder Foundation, Morticia might not have had the opportunity to become the beautiful diva you see before you! Both Morticia and I (her foster mom) want to thank Bama Bully Rescue and the Petfinder Foundation from the bottom of our hearts. Morticia has been adopted!
Your generous $10,000 grant to our nonprofit partner, the Friends of Pima Animal Care Center, helped underwrite the costs of medical treatment when our shelter experienced dual outbreaks of canine distempervirus (distemper) and Streptococcus equi zooepidemicus (Strep zoo). These are highly contagious conditions, and our organization could have euthanized every single dog in our care in order to eradicate the threat. But with the Petfinder Foundation’s support, our medical team did the exact opposite: They launched an intensive attempt to save every sick dog and prevent all the others from becoming ill. In the case of sick dogs, this required weeks of intensive medical treatment and multiple costly tests. All of our healthy dogs were also prophylactically treated with antibiotics, and many were tested, at a very high cost.
This response was something our county shelter could never have undertaken in past years. Thanks to your very generous grant and additional support we received from our community, we were able to save the lives of hundreds of dogs!
As Pima County, Arizona's only open-admission shelter, we take in all pets, regardless of their age, temperament or health. Most of the pets we take in are under-vaccinated, and our 60-year-old shelter was not built to prevent the spread of illness. Our team works exceptionally hard to keep our pets healthy, but at times, these factors cause illness outbreaks to occur. The outbreak last year was one of the most devastating threats we have ever experienced, and it was a herculean task on the part of our team to try and save all these dogs. Our staff and volunteers, who love our dogs, were very scared.
The path we took was expensive – but it was lifesaving, and it was absolutely the right thing to do. Your investment in our response helped us to not only save hundreds of dogs, it helped to show our community that the Petfinder Foundation stands behind the lifesaving direction we took. Thank you for believing in our mission and supporting our efforts to be a progressive county shelter!
Hundreds of dogs; thank you so much!
Sweet little Hunter, a 2-year-old Chihuahua mix (first photo), came to us after his owner died and his family couldn’t find a new home for him. He was suffering from alopecia, or hair loss, around both eyes due to allergies. He became ill with Strep zoo, and after three weeks of diligent treatment, he had beat the illness. He was adopted in short order to a home with a rat terrier sister.
One of our field services officers rescued 3-year-old Merlin (second photo) from the streets, where he and his “girlfriend” had been roaming as strays. The pair were brought back to our shelter so they could be altered and adopted. During his stay, though, Merlin became ill with Strep zoo. After three weeks of careful treatment and monitoring, he beat the illness, and he quickly found a home!
The odds were stacked against 5-year-old Adam (third photo), who was suffering from valley fever when he was brought to us as a stray. This is a treatable condition that's common in Tucson, but it requires medication and bloodwork, which can turn many adopters away. To further complicate matters, Adam became ill with Strep zoo, but after two weeks of treatment, he beat the illness. He found his home with John and Yolanda (fourth photo), who promised not only to always care for condition, but provide him with new friends in their two doting grandchildren, too!
With generous funding from the Build-A-Bear and Petfinder Foundation Youth Humane-Education Grant, the Maryland SPCA (MD SPCA) was able to enhance existing humane-education programming. We directed funding to specifically target our Pet Pal Reading Program, but also applied some funding to our humane-education presentations, tours, and events. We have witnessed continuing success with our Pet Pal Reading Program. With funding from this grant, we were able to provide children with a t-shirt or a stuffed animal for participating in the reading hour. By receiving a shirt, it gave the children a feeling of inclusion and the sense that they were part of something unique and special. By providing a child with a stuffed dog to take home, they were able to continue practicing their reading at home, in turn helping them to increase their confidence and to further their understanding of compassion toward animals.
We have found that many children are frightened of real animals and in particular we have found they harbor a strong aversion to cats. We therefore applied funds from this grant to purchase a cat costume and introduced the MD SPCA cat mascot. Included in the activity book is a chance to name this mascot, making their new feline friend feel more personal and special to them. This allowed children to interact with a friendly pet and provided an educational tool for children to learn about cats in a safe environment.
For each child in grades K through 6 who comes through the humane-education program, we provide them with an activity book that they are able to take home. We also provide this as a tool for educators to put to use in the classroom with their students. The book helps to reinforce our lessons of compassion and kindness towards pets with fun activities and games.
There are many children in our community whose schools do not have funding for transportation to the MD SPCA to participate in the humane-education program. With this grant, we were able to provide buses for two schools to attend a presentation and then tour our facilities so that they could meet our pets and see the important work that we do to make sure each animal has the compassion and love that he or she needs while in our care.
With our Pet Pals Reading Program, each week we invite children to our shelter to read out loud to our pets. When children read in the kennel, it helps the shelter pets feel safer and less anxious. It is always amazing to hear a kennel of 50 barking dogs grow silent as the children begin to read. Reading to our pets not only soothes their anxiety, it also enables participants to practice their reading skills without judgment. We also take the time to emphasize the importance of how to properly interact with pets and what they can do to help pets in their community.
By covering the cost of transportation to our facilities from schools unable to travel to see us on their own due to lack of funds, we are able to reach more students. Students are able to interact safely with pets and to learn the important lessons of compassion and kindness towards all beings.
The funding from this grant helped us to reach an estimated 500 children through the Pet Pals Reading Program, humane-education presentations, tours, and events.
From Community Affairs Director Katie Flory: “One of the parents came up to me to tell me how much she loved the program. She told me her son would not read at home, but she can’t get him to leave the shelter during the reading hour. He wants to come every week and she has seen a great improvement in his reading skills.” From a parent, via email: “Katie, I just wanted to thank you for an awesome start to the Pet Pals program yesterday. Will and Claire absolutely loved it, are still talking about it, and can't wait until next Wednesday. After I posted some pics on Facebook, several of my friends have signed their kids up as well. The way the dogs quieted down brought tears to my eyes. What a gift for the animals! And what a gift for my children, to learn about caring for others and giving their time to their community. I am so grateful! See you next week. –Mary"
We had six dogs who had been with us way too long and we thought they were not adoptable. We used the money to hire a behavioral technician to do an adoption triage for each dog. Then we developed a treatment plan. Each dog had his or her needs outlined and we worked diligently to make all six adoptable. Some of the dogs were sent to boot camp for socialization with people and other dogs.
It took us from thinking we would have some dogs for the rest of their lives. We made a dramatic change in our attitude and in our process. Now, we are focused on transforming each dog and cat from where they are to a new home. We actually have a process and a plan with accountability built in.
We initially had six dogs who were long-timers. Two more graduated to long-timers during the grant. At the end of the grant we only had two dogs left.
Joey had been with us since he was a pup. He had suffered serious abuse and did not trust anyone. He had little control over his bodily functions and was sad all the time. He had barely warmed up to us when we had a serious needs analysis and mapped out a plan to socialize him. We sent him to boot camp for two weeks. He came back much better; then we gave him to a caring foster/trainer. After two adoption days, he found a family that loves him. The picture shows him in the middle of everything.
The money was used to purchase building materials which helped get us closer to completing our badly needed cat shelter building. As you can tell in the photos, there is still work to be done as soon as additional funding becomes available. The first two photos show the building prior to receiving the grant, and the second two show work we were able to complete with your support.
BCHS was founded more than 14 years ago to provide temporary sanctuary for unwanted, lost and neglected animals and placement in loving and responsible homes. We are dedicated to doing all we can to improve animal welfare and to stop euthanasia of adoptable pets. For the past seven years, our office/cat-rescue operation has been temporarily located in a small, rundown, 60-year-old county maintenance building. In most cases we are the only hope of survival for the stray and abandoned cats in our community. The size and condition of our existing building drastically limits the number of cats we are able to help. We urgently need a facility that is safer, larger, more efficient, and provides a healthier environment for the cats.
Increasing expenses and the further deterioration of the old building caused us to take action. We launched a capital campaign last year to fund construction of an annex to the existing BCHS dog shelter located a couple of miles away. The new addition will provide air-controlled community rooms for cats, an isolation room, food prep/storage room, laundry room, meet-and-greet room, adoption center, conference/education room, reception area and business office.
The campaign was promoted on our website, Facebook, newsletter, local newspapers and radio. In addition, we established an online fundraising site, and we are designing a memorial-garden area located next to the new building which will include memorial bricks that can be purchased to raise additional funds for this project. The capital campaign, including the Petfinder Foundation grant, has enabled us to get as far as we have and we appreciate your support.
This project is critical to improving the welfare of animals in our community. Your donation could not have come at a better time and has helped us reach another milestone in working toward completion of this building. Your support will have a long-lasting impact far into the future as we will be able to improve the care and increase the number of our rescues.
Our currently capacity is 20-30 cats. The new building will be able to house 50-60 cats.
Lucky, a large, gentle, short-haired black cat (first photo), was almost 11 years old. He’d been adopted through Bond County Humane Society in 2006 when he was a 10-week-old kitten. But then his human mom was moving in December 2015 and could not take Lucky with her. So he came back to BCHS's cat shelter in hopes that we could find him a new home where he could just lie around again and run the house. His longtime mom told us that he was a very good cat, loved attention, never jumped up onto counters or got into anything he shouldn’t. Still, Lucky lived at our cat shelter for almost a year, hanging out on the laps of our office volunteers, napping and spending playtime hours down on the big floor and shelf perches in the community cat room while socializing volunteers occupied him with laser pointers, jingle balls, and dangling feathers.
Finally, during a February 2017 Saturday off-site adoption event at Petco in Fairview Heights, Illinois, BCHS approved a family interested in adopting Lucky and he went to a new permanent home in Granite City, Illinois. The family also adopted a young kitten – Raider (second photo) – from BCHS the same day!
Capital campaign funding sources like the Petfinder Foundation grant absolutely help ensure that more senior cats who’ve been adopted through Bond County Humane Society will have a place to return to if need be, and that there will be places for cats who for other reasons need temporary shelter while we find them permanent adoptive homes. Our old, dilapidated, and inefficient cat-shelter facility has been in extreme danger of having to close, whether we complete the new facility at our new campus in time to move operations there or not! Getting the financial resources to finish and equip the new shelter can save cat-rescue and community-pet programs in our area.
Adult and senior cats like Lucky may show best for potential adopters in quiet settings like a comfy room in the same building in which they live. Our old shelter does not have that but the new one will -- a meet-and-greet room with overstuffed chairs, a throw rug, a cat tree, and more familiar reminders of the home he had for over nine years. Lucky got lucky with BCHS’s hard work, creativeness, and passion with which we have tried to make up for a lack of a truly suitable facility since our founding in 2003. And the Petfinder Foundation’s recent grant helps finally provide that new wonderful purpose-built state-of-the-art facility now!
The grant was used to cover medical expenses for incoming surrendered and stray animals.
The grant allowed us to treat animals coming in with emergent medical-care needs. The grant also allowed us to perform medical procedures such as dentals on animals in need, thus increasing their chances for adoption, as adopters would not have to take on the cost of an immediate medical need.
Bambi (first photo) is a funny and loving little Chihuahua who was surrendered to the shelter due to pregnancy complications. Her previous owners could not afford to treat her, and little Bambi needed emergency surgery as soon as she came to us. Thanks to our funds from the Petfinder Foundation, we were able to give her the surgery she needed to treat her dystocia and adopt her out as a healthy pup!
Johnny (second and third photos) came to us as a stray in mid-December. He spent Christmas, New Year's and Valentine's Day waiting at the adoption center for a home. With his big cheeks, ruffian looks, and wonderful personality, we knew it was his medical needs holding him back from finding his person. Johnny has FIV but he also had horrible teeth. His teeth were causing him so much pain that he had started to deteriorate -- he wasn't eating as well and wasn't giving his loud purrs anymore. We were able to complete his dental thanks to the funds provided by the Petfinder Foundation grant, and just four days after his dental, he was adopted!
Bailey is a sweet 6-month-old rabbit who was surrendered to our shelter due to some health concerns. He was thin and did not have normal digestive activity, which is very dangerous for rabbits. He was found to have coccidia. We used Petfinder Foundation funds to pay for his exams, hospitalization and treatments. Once his coccidia was fully treated, this little guy was adopted right away!
The three generous donations awarded to us were used to provide medical care for three dogs to get them ready for adoption! This also included their food, foster-parent needs, toys, beds and any medication they needed.
Last year we cared for nearly 5,000 animals. Donations like these, from donors who have a special place in their hearts for animals, help us provide stellar medical care to get our animals ready for their forever homes. We could not provide the level of care we do without donors like these. On average, it costs $400 to care for each animal. These donations help alleviate that cost.
These donations helped three dogs.
The sponsored pets were (from top): Hoss, a 1-year-old Chihuahua who came to Operation Kindness from another shelter; Lady, a 10-month-old stray terrier mix who came to us with an upper-respiratory infection; and Lincoln, a 3-month-old shepherd mix who came to us from another shelter as well. All three have been adopted by loving families!
We used the majority of the money to pay for medical procedures, vaccines, medication, and flea treatment. We purchased litter for our fosters and made a small purchase of a pet stroller that we are using for visits to senior-living facilities.
The grant money allowed us to help several cats whose only alternative may have been euthanasia while in the shelter. We also helped three cats stay in their homes who would have either been surrendered to the shelter, surrendered back to Lapcats, or put to sleep: Arthur, Lily, Kobe. We were able to perform dental surgeries on Arthur, Lily, Big Guy, Samuel, Kobe, Penelope, Little Man, Nicholas, and Lonnie. We helped Jesse with medical treatment.
Ten so far, but we still have funds left over.
"It has been four years since I became acquainted with Barbara Doty and Lapcats. I had been looking to adopt a tabby cat, which led me to the Lapcats website. Lily was to be my first indoor-only cat. I had been considering adopting a second cat to keep Lily company. This was also a first for me. When I arrived to meet and bring her home I was told that Lily was bonded with another cat. It was suggested that it would be wonderful for both cats if I adopted them together. That was easy! It was the best decision I could have made. I had always believed the myths about cats being aloof and solitary. It turns out that Lily and Oggie absolutely love each other. When they aren't snuggling up to me, they are cuddling and playing with each other. Who knew?
"I kept in touch with Barbara over the years when I took the cats to her to get their nails trimmed. But I recently got some devastating news: Lily needed extensive and expensive dental work. This is where everything started to go sideways. The vet had spent a few minutes examining her and the majority of the time explaining how much it would cost to fix her teeth. Which was the least expensive: the wellness plan or the a la carte way? It really didn't matter because there was no way I could have afforded any of it. It was going to cost $800-1,000. I kept telling the vet over and over that I didn't have that kind of money as she continued to talk over me. She sent me home with six pages of cost estimates.
"I started to call around to other vets to get other estimates. It was all about that same. I followed the phone calls with internet searches for organizations that might be able to help low-income seniors dealing with this crisis. With no luck there, I cried a lot and considered the possibility of having to surrender my beloved pet. It looked like Lily's dental crisis might be a death sentence.
"Then I thought of Barbara. I sent her an email and asked if she knew of any organizations that might be able to help with these expenses. She emailed back and said that Lapcats would pay for Lily's dental work. I read it twice to make sure I had read it right. My eyes were not deceiving me. This time I cried for joy.
"Thank you, Barbara, for being the compassionate person that you are and for all the tireless and invaluable work you do on behalf of cats. Barbara and Lapcats do much more than connect abandoned and surrendered cats with their new families. Thanks to them and with help from the Petfinder Foundation, they saved my cat's life for the second time!"
Lollypop Farm, Humane Society of Greater Rochester and Monroe County: Build-A-Bear Youth Humane Education Grant
We purchased supplies and items needed for our humane-education programs, including Tails & Treats (Halloween-themed trick-or-treating on the farm with the animals); Petacular Party gifts; Farm Camp and Future Veterinarians Camp snacks, shirts, craft supplies, crayons, markers, lamination, stethoscopes, etc.; Reading Readiness books; training fees, shirts and name tags for volunteers with Intermountain Therapy Assistance Dogs; and field trip supplies and Girl Scout program supplies such as handouts, course curriculum, coloring books and badges.
Lollypop Farm’s “Learning to Create a Better World” humane-education program has offered a number of opportunities that engage children’s fascination with animals while teaching them compassion and respect for all living things. Kids decorated "cones of joy" for the dogs and cats who need to wear cones after medial procedures. Youth participants made enrichment toys for the dogs and cats in the shelter.
Through Book Buddies, children practiced their reading skills in a non-judgmental, positive environment at the shelter. Our cats are great listeners! Reading to the cats is also beneficial for the kitties themselves: Cats find the rhythmic sound of a voice very comforting and soothing. This program also helps socialize the cats.
Tails and Treats welcomed more than 300 children in a safe alternative to Halloween where families brought their children decked out in their costumes to Lollypop Farm and the children had treats, prizes, and meet-and-greets with animals throughout the event. All of our humane-education programs aim to teach young people about the responsibility of pet ownership and we hope to develop these young people into animal advocates.
Hundreds of our shelter animals are impacted by the humane-education programming through reading programs, receiving enrichment toys, etc.
Maxfield has attended Book Buddies since Sept. 8, 2016. He told staff that he does not really love reading in school, but he is starting to enjoying reading books that interest him. Maxfield has talked about his love for animals since the day we first met him at the shelter. His enthusiasm and excitement can be seen in his eyes when he enters the cat room for his Book Buddies reading sessions. Maxfield has become comfortable with the cat staff and volunteers and always has a great sense of humor when he talks about the cats or the book he is reading.
The first photo is of a particularly moving moment during the Book Buddies program. In October, Maxfield came to a BB sessions with an "early reader" chapter book. He explained that he saw the book at his school's Scholastic Book Fair and went on to say, "I am feeling very generous today, so I am going to donate the book to Lollypop Farm when I am done reading it today." This story is not only an example of how Book Buddies is helping struggling readers find a passion for literacy, but also demonstrates that the participants are learning about empathy and philanthropy.
The goal of Lollypop Farm’s Book Buddies program, in which children read to shelter cats, is twofold: to provide kids with a relaxed, judgment-free setting to help them become better and more confident readers, and to socialize and comfort adoptable cats waiting for new homes. When 8-year-old Zach Michael and an 11-year-old cat named Miss CheckMeowt (second and third photos) took part in the program earlier this year, they both got more out of it than anyone had expected. In addition to improving his reading by three grade levels, Zach found a feline friend for life and Miss CheckMeowt got a new home.
Miss CheckMeowt was brought to Lollypop Farm in February 2016 when her elderly owner moved to a nursing home. When Book Buddies cats were chosen, she didn’t make the shortlist. “She wasn’t the most warm, welcoming cat to everyone who encountered her -- she had kind of a feisty personality,” says Kim Ferris-Church, humane education manager. But when Zach, who had recently participated in the Book Buddies pilot program, met Miss CheckMeowt during Lollypop Farm’s February school break camp, he liked her right away. Animal Care Supervisor Nick Lapresi agreed to make her a Book Buddies cat after all.
Lapresi made the right call: Zach loved reading to Miss CheckMeowt, and she came out of her shell, says Ferris-Church. “It was almost like they were meant to be together. We were seeing a different side of her that the cat staff had not seen before.” Zach felt such a strong connection to Miss CheckMeowt that the staff said he could come see her anytime. Every week, Zach would say to his parents, Renee and Larry, “It would be great if we could bring Miss Check Meowt home, but I know we can’t.”
Zach’s parents had already been thinking about getting him a therapy animal because of his ADHD and other special needs. “Animals just seem to bring out this very calm side of him, this very loving side, no matter how upset he is,” says Renee. But they had pictured a young dog or cat -- not one who was 11 years old. Still, Zach loved Miss Check Meowt, so Renee and Michael met with Lollypop Farm staff to secretly arrange the adoption. To get him to the shelter to give him the good news, they used the ruse of another reading session. In the touching video of the surprise, which Lollypop Farm shared on Facebook, Renee talks to Zach about Miss CheckMeowt and asks, “How would you feel if you found out we adopted her for you?” He answers, “I’d be very happy!” When Renee says, “She’s coming home with us today,” he doesn’t believe her, but she assures him it’s true. “No way,” he says, and: “Very funny.” When Zach finally realizes his parents are serious, Miss CheckMeowt seems to understand, meowing loudly while she walks over to him. He gently pets her on the head and then hugs his mom and dad. Three months after her arrival, Miss CheckMeowt had a new home.
Miss CheckMeowt has adjusted well to her new life and gets along with the family’s two other cats, Momo Kitty and Samantha. She sleeps in Zach’s bed, and they have fun together. “I’ll play with her toys and she’ll jump up and get them,” he says. We have also included another photo of children reading to a cat during Book Buddies (fourth photo).