Last weekend, a lady walked crookedly into our front lobby, leaning heavily on a cane, and struggling with a pet carrier. Since the clinic is not open for appointments on the weekend, it could only mean one thing... she wanted to surrender a pet.
I looked at her, and three words kept going through my head: we are full, we are full, we are full. At present, the adoption center has 103 cats and 47 dogs, plus about 95 animals in foster care. We are full.
I went to tell this lady this, and hopefully offer some suggestions on keeping her cat. Before I could begin, she asked for a tissue. While I searched for one, the tears flowed and the story started pouring out.
She had lost her job several months ago, then her house. She was being forced to live with her daughter in North Carolina, and had tried for 3 months to find her beloved cat, Willow, a home.
Willow is 9 years old, and has lived with this lady her entire life. She was in a pretty pink carrier, had impeccable Vet records, a fresh bag of food, treats, and toys. Willow was loved.
I took a good look into the carrier as I was explaining to the lady that we are really full. Did I mention that we have a 103 cats for adoption? While doing so, Willow rolled over on her back and starting purring. I asked the lady if she had a friend, family member, or church associate who could help. And Willow stuck her paw out the front of the carrier, and seemed to purr even louder.
I then asked the lady if she had contacted any other no kill shelters, and she explained all the avenues she had tried, how she was devastated about imposing on her daughter already, and how her daughter had said that Willow could not come.
What the lady did not know during this explanation was that I was readying the owner surrender form, and the decision had been made to take Willow.
I probably should have interrupted her and told her this, but I think a part of her needed to get it out. To let us know that she was truly out of options. It went unspoken how humbling it must of been to walk through our front door, pleading for her cat's life.
Paperwork was signed, and she bid a tearful to goodbye to Willow. I promised the lady that we would take care of Willow and find her a good home, even though, and especially because, she is an older cat.
I took Willow downstairs to the adoption center, and saw a room full of volunteers- some taking photos, some cleaning, some doing laundry. It is because of you all that we can make these promises- thank you. With the influx of rescues and homeless pets, we need you more than ever.
If you have been through volunteer orientation, come on in anyday between 9 am and 6 pm. If not, orientation is every 3rd Tuesday of each month at 6:30 pm- and that's, like, tomorrow!
Hope to see you either way. Willow and the 103 cats will welcome you with open paws and purrs.