By: Sarah Javier, Executive Director | January 30, 2019
Details included in the story below were shared by Lynne Cox of Furry Hearts Rescue. Lynne and her team rescued the dogs who were then brought to the APA for medical care and a new start. This is their story.
Their lives started in a rural area North of Springfield in a small town called Greenfield. It was a rough beginning. On land situated out of view from the road, down a driveway, past overgrown weeds and debris, sat a run-down mobile home in various stages of decay. Also on the property were broken down kennels where dogs used to be kept for breeding, bits and pieces of the lives that used to live there and could not be saved remaining. Garbage and feces were everywhere. And on that property were six dogs struggling to survive – 3 adult males, 2 puppies, and 1 three-legged female who had been used for breeding.
The owner of the property had been arrested on drug charges and would not be returning. By default, the only remaining caretaker was an elderly and disabled woman who attempted to provide food and water, but was limited in what she could do to care for them. So, four incredible women from Furry Hearts Rescue went to work trapping the dogs with the intention of bringing them to the APA for much needed medical care and a new start.
It was rainy and cold with only a camper shell serving as shelter for the dogs. They were also scared and uncertain of the strangers who appeared on their 20 acres of land in an attempt to help them. The women, who knew the extreme winter temperatures would be rolling in within a day or two, were patient and committed to doing whatever was necessary to bring each dog to safety. Arming themselves with crates, rotisserie chickens, hot dogs and bologna – the types of treats that help hungry dogs overcome fear of strangers – they settled in for the long haul.
It took hours – MANY hours – but at last they succeeded. Lynne Cox, the leader of this rescue effort explains, “it was a harrowing, tiring, dirty, physically rough, wonderful day in rescue.”
Today the dogs are safe and sound at the APA. They are exhausted and scared, but not broken. Sometimes hope and trust just take a little bit of time and patience in order to surface.
Frank, one of the male dogs, has several cuts and sores on his swollen feet and requires the most medical care. On one of his feet, the bone is exposed around his toes and he is unable to walk. For now he is on antibiotics and pain medication, and as soon as possible he will receive additional medical attention to address any other needs he may have. The compassionate and dedicated staff don’t mind carrying this sweet boy from place to place, which is the only way he can get outside to go to the bathroom at this point.
Sally, the three-legged female, is cautiously beginning to trust and is learning to walk on a leash. She is heartworm positive, so we will begin treating her for this before making her available for adoption. Her demeanor is calm and sweet, and we can tell she has a lot of love to give but is just unsure how to do that. It will come with time.
Beans and Jessie, the two puppies, are quite afraid of this unfamiliar place and spend a lot of time huddled together in the corner of their kennel. Our kind and gentle staff and volunteers take things a little more slowly with these two, helping them get more comfortable. Again, time and patience work wonders.
Reagan and Walker, the remaining two males, are both gentle giants who have spent much of the time here sleeping. When you are accustomed to fending for yourself and braving the elements of the outdoors, a nice, warm, comfy bed has a way of calling you to sleep as much as you can. Reagan is heartworm positive, as well, so after he gets some rest we will begin treatment.
Overall, they are good. They came with a few medical conditions that require attention, but we are equipped to treat those things, giving them a long, healthy life. Thanks to the determination of their rescuers and the support and care of the APA, these dogs have an incredible future ahead. We are honored to have collaborated with Furry Hearts Rescue to make the next chapter of these dogs’ lives a happy one. Stay tuned for updates.
By: Sarah Javier | January 11, 2019
According to the ASPCA, 15% of pet households will experience a missing pet. Minimize the risk you will lose your furry friend forever by being proactive and spaying/neutering, microchipping, posting flyers, and dabbling in witchcraft.
February 14th, 2018, I came home from work and greeted my pets. My border collie (Betty), my FIV+ black domestic shorthair (Dipper), my medium haired perfect calico (Mabel), and our sweet FIV+ foster (George).
Betty, Dipper, George.
My cats are strictly indoors. Sometimes they bury themselves in my hoard of clothes or get accidentally locked in a closet. Mabel has a nearly silent meow – so the prospect that she was trapped somewhere in the apartment was not absurd. However, she was a known door dasher. Usually she’d slip past me and trot down the back steps, then wait in the yard to be captured.
Today, though, I hadn’t noticed her escape. To this day, I have no explanation for how Mabel went missing but after I’d torn apart all 1000 square feet of my apartment I had to face facts: Mabel was gone.
What follows is a 6 day ordeal where I tried absolutely anything and everything:
Mabel was not adopted, per se. While building a ramp in East St Louis for a previous nonprofit employer, I stumbled across a feral cat colony. The colony was mostly Siamese adult cats – and two kittens who I clocked to be between 5 and 7 months. This was generally beyond the age of taming but I was a young and inexperienced volunteer. When I trapped both kittens in the same trap (and when the colony caretaker explained she loved the adults and disliked the kittens), I took them home. (Note: this is basically never a good idea because cats are fickle creatures. It is impossible to guess if a kitten over 12 weeks will tame – let alone a pair of 6+ month old ferals).
I set Mabel & Dipper up in a crate in my kitchen. They hid in a box for a month. And then something amazing happened – Dipper let me pet his head while he ate. He started to meow (generally, feral cats do not meow – this is a tactic to manipulate humans for more food). Mabel escaped the crate and didn’t hide. Cautiously, I let the two of them out of the kitchen crate. Nearly immediately after release, Mabel demanded to be carried like a baby. Dipper decided he wanted endless kisses and pets. Anyway what I’m saying is I foster failed hard for these two.
The upshot: I microchipped both cats to me. Because they took a month to tame, both cats have notches in their left ears (a universal sign of community cats & sterilization).
When Mabel went missing, I contacted her chip company and was connected with a human nearly immediately. The operator was sympathetic. She said Mabel was officially flagged as missing in the system.
Known associate of mine and big Mabel fan, Megan, immediately designed and printed a million MISSING flyers. We disseminated them to the major cultural hubs: the Starbucks on Grand, the Starbucks on Kingshighway, the Starbucks off the 64, and every light post in Tower Grove South.
We posted a digital version of the flyer on our neighborhood Facebook page. My wide circle of cat rescue friends signal boosted Mabel’s missing face endlessly. We straight up spammed Next Door.
I knocked on doors and left flyers in my neighborhood. During one cold afternoon, a girl noticed me methodically visiting every door on a street. She was a dog walker and a member of the social media site, Reddit. She offered to help. She took one side of the street and boosted my flyer on the St Louis sub-Reddit. Hey Jessica: thanks for being a bro. Every person with eyes or an internet connection in Tower Grove knew Mabel was missing.
3) Tips for Missing Cats
Some suggestions I received (and followed): leave Mabel’s litterbox outside, leave blankets outside, set a trap for her in your backyard. I upped the ante on this last suggestion: I set two traps in my backyard (courtesy of St Louis Feral Cat Outreach). I rigged a trap up in my dog’s house with a circular mp3 file of Mabel’s bonded brother, Dipper, meowing.
The Dipper clip was not difficult to get: he’d grown very needy since Mabel’s disappearance. He’d taken to wandering the halls of our small apartment, crying his heart out. I recorded one of these calls and borrowed a friend’s wireless speaker. I reasoned that if Mabel heard Dipper calling her, she might come home.
Friend and resident tech wizard, Katherine, lent me her NEST cam. I positioned it in my kitchen window and monitored it obsessively from my smartphone.
But my favorite suggestion was this: spend some time outside at 3am. Cats are more likely to come out when it’s dark and quiet. Don’t use the cat’s name, the suggestion continues, because cats hear their names and grow more afraid. They’ll think you’re drawing too much attention to them – and they will only hunker down more.
Every single night after Mabel went missing, I set an alarm for 3am. I am naturally adverse to winter clothes so I’d only pull on my puffy coat over my night dress and set up camp in my backyard. Bare legged and cell phone screen glowing bright in the winter air, I began to read. Most nights I landed on a website about history (r/AskHistorians).
It was, indeed, very quiet. It felt wrong to be making such a ruckus in my silent neighborhood but night after night, I picked a thread and projected into the darkness.
Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, was a member of the most powerful dynasty in Europe….
Newton didn’t discover gravity, but unified a variety of other disparate issues, especially the movement of heavenly and earthly bodies, within a new systematic physics…
The Aztecs had different ways of welcoming a new child based on their gender…
Occasionally a figure or another would walk past me on the sidewalk, but no one ever bothered me. From a few yards away, Dipper’s recorded voice yowled on a loop.
4) Less Orthodox Methods
When you cry for six days straight, funny things happen to your brain. I felt tired all the time – listless but also restless. Although a comparatively short trauma, six days of near constant, breathless worry left me loopy. I was dehydrated from tears. I spent hours in the bathtub, trying to soak my cells back to life. Lonely Dipper lay on my shoulder, his tail swishing in the water.
Although most people seemed to fall into the “look at night and shine your flashlight under cars to see if you can spot the reflection in her eyes” camp, there were some notable exceptions.
One friend told me about a pet psychic who reunited a friend and her dog. I got her contact info.
Another friend and sometimes witch, Charlotte, suggested I purchase a spell from a new age witchcraft store. We visited the shop and I told the woman behind the counter, “I can’t find my cat.” She recommended a bottle of oil emblazoned with the words “Bring My Lost Love Back To Me.“
The liquid inside was bright pink and presumably a spell to bring back a wayward boyfriend. I hoped it could do something even more important: bring back my cat.
The package instructed I place the oil on anything that might serve as a beacon back home for Mabel. I smeared it on my hands, her cat tree, and the back corners of her missing posters. I gingerly swiped some on my phone case.
5) End Game
On February 20th, I created a Facebook event to search for Mabel. Many friends and volunteers enthusiastically agreed to come out the following weekend and fan out in a grid search.
My friend and aforementioned feral expert, Terri, accompanied me to the Humane Society, the APA, and the city shelter. No Mabel – but we did leave flyers.
I came home and resolved to take a nap. I put on my pjs and my phone rang with an unknown caller. I was answering any strange number that rang through, thinking any minute now it would be someone who found Mabel. I’d received tips from a couple off Baden, a woman in the hill, and other places in the city. Although I knew these were all long shots (cats are most likely to be only a few blocks from where they were last seen), I diligently tracked each one down.
This tip was different.
“I posted about this on Facebook,” the woman, Alison, told me on the phone. “But the more I think about it, the more I really think I saw your cat just a few minutes ago. She had the notch in her ear. I saw her on Connecticut. I’m a dog walker so I couldn’t stop because I didn’t want the dogs to scare her off but I wanted you to know.”
Connecticut was only a block from me.
I did not change out of my pjs.
This woman had found my cat, I was sure of it.
I snatched a cat carrier and raced over to the address on Connecticut. I got out of my car and prowled around to the side of the house.
There, sitting in the bushes, was Mabel. At first I did not recognize her. She was too puffy and a different color than I remembered. Although Mabel is a very distinct cat, memory is a strange, slippery thing – and so is panic.
Mabel took one look at me and bolted through a broken window and into the basement of the vacant home behind her. I climbed through the brush and peered down into the pitch black room. I called Terri, screaming incoherently.
“I can see her but I can’t get to her!” I shouted, finally, after Terri gave up trying to ascertain if I was perhaps in the process of being murdered.
“What tools do we need?” asked Terri, the pragmatist. A catch pole? Gloves? A ladder? The jaws of life?
I remembered the tip about a cat’s name causing fear. So: I didn’t say her name. “It’s me!” I pleaded to Mabel. “It’s me, it’s me, it’s me!” I wailed. Mabel peaked her head through the basement window. Without hesitation I scruffed her and placed her in the carrier, panting. Mabel stared through the bars, shaking violently. I sat on my car’s bumper and blubbered. “I got her!” I said to Terri, and then I called Alison back. I cried so hard I could barely speak. Alison was crying too.
“I always keep an eye out,” she told me, “I was hoping I’d find her.”
I called my boyfriend, and then told my mother, and Megan, and all of Facebook. I took the world’s most unflattering selfie and, in the interest of full accuracy, posted it online with the caption “MABEL IS HOME.” I called the microchip number with the good news. The operator was thrilled. Mabel was officially marked found in the system.
Back home, Mabel slept in my lap for hours. When my boyfriend got home she jumped all over him, climbing his shoulders and then leaping into his lap, over and over. The other animals regarded her coolly. “Ah, there you are,” Dipper seemed to say.
Last year, the APA reports the following statistics about lost pets:
182 pets were returned to their families from the APA
Of those, 28 were found through APA postings on STL LOST PETS.
2 were returned to their owners when good Samaritans returned them to the APA – wearing tags.
23 families visited the shelter and found their lost pet waiting here, patiently, for them.
27 were reunited through the web in some other way than the missing pets page.
7, like Mabel, were returned through the power of Facebook.
25 owners called and described their pet – and were successfully reunited by phone.
If your pet goes missing, no one strategy is a guarantee to bring her back home. Microchip her now so that if the time ever comes, you are prepared.
By: Lauren Mirelli | December 20, 2018
This holiday season we’re offering the gift of joy that pets bring. If your loved one adores animals and is in a senior living community, holiday Puppy-Grams are a unique and thoughtful gift.
Here’s how Puppy–Grams work:
1. Contact the APA to request your Puppy-Gram visit. Scheduling availability is first come-first served. Each Puppy-Gram is $100 and 100% of proceeds will help the animals at the APA Adoption Center. So, not only will you be giving a very special gift, you will be helping animals, too!
2. Pet visits can be puppies, small dogs, or kittens. Please have your first and second choice ready at the time of booking. On the scheduled day, a member of the APA team will arrive with an adorable ball of fluff. Your loved one will receive 15 minutes of cuddles and pet therapy. A few minor details: To qualify, the recipient must reside at a senior living community within 15 miles of our Brentwood, MO Adoption Center. We’ll also need confirmation that it’s okay for a pet to come inside the senior living community. You must make sure your loved one will be present on the day of delivery, as only one delivery attempt will be made. Our team will bring all necessary supplies and all pets are up to date on vaccinations.
To schedule call 314-645-4610 or email email@example.com.
By: Lauren Mirelli | December 3, 2018
Scudder was thrown from a car near the airport, discarded like trash. Malnourished and mistreated, he arrived at the Adoption Center scared, hurt, and in need of TLC. He had burns on his neck and back that appeared intentional. He was in pain, but his spirit was not broken. Although he had every reason to give up on humans, he still believed in the goodness of others – he just needed someone to show him that things could be okay. Our staff happily obliged – helping this sweet, lost boy get the dose of kindness and care he needed. We started with a safe space to sleep and good food. When he began to trust us, we gently bathed him, taking special care around the open wounds along his body. He was given medications to help him heal and prevent infection, as well as vaccinations to keep him healthy. With the help of a foster home, he learned what it meant to be a pet and play with other dogs. When he was ready to find a home of his own, he was neutered and made available for adoption.
While Scudder waited for his new home, we tried to make him feel right at home with us. With a private studio apartment and cozy bed, Scudder waited patiently for the right family. Luckily, they arrived right on time.
Colin had lost his best friend and “king” of the house, Simba, in August of this year. We all know what a devastating loss that can be – the house feels empty with no one to greet you at the door and make your day brighter. It was no different for Colin.
Although convinced he wasn’t ready, his partner, Paige, kept a watchful eye on the APA’s adoption website. Despite his protests, she knew Colin was hurting from the loss of his beloved friend, but that his heart would open when the right dog came along. Lo and behold, one day an adorable (and grizzled) face popped up and Paige knew – this was the one. After a visit to the APA “just to meet him” it turned about to be a perfect homecoming for everyone. Colin met with our dedicated adoption counselors who told him Scudder’s story and they knew immediately it was a match. While no pet ever replaces another, their friendship can help us heal just a little, day by day. And so it was. With a new name and lots of love, Scudder (now Chance) has a well-deserved home for the holidays.
By: Sarah Javier, Executive Director | November 27, 2018
I will never forget the tiny kitten in the photo to the left. Her shallow breathing, faint meow and the way her frail, thin body felt in my hand is forever etched in my mind.
She came in with her siblings, all of them barely clinging to life. They were starving, but too weak to eat. The fleas that infested their tiny bodies were literally sucking the life out of them. As I coaxed her to swallow formula through a small syringe, I sang to her and encouraged her to fight. Her small body was limp as I attempted to warm her in a towel. Her outcome was uncertain and my heart hurt that I couldn’t do more.
Fast forward a couple of weeks — a playful, vibrant kitten ready to explore the world. Same kitten. She’s a fighter for sure, but she wouldn’t be here without the resources needed to help nurse her to health. This is what a donation made on Giving Tuesday can do.
The formula needed to provide her body with the necessary nourishment to grow and keep fighting? A few dollars. The special shampoo and medication needed to fight off the fleas that were causing her to be anemic? Less than a cup of coffee. Vaccinations to help her grow strong and healthy? Roughly $10. So you see, every donation makes a difference, and for some, it means the difference between life and death.
Every member of the APA team is grateful to do this work. Animals come to us for so many different reasons, and for every single one that enters our doors, we do all we can to ensure they are healthy and find safe, loving homes. Sometimes that takes a little bit more time, resources and love. Of course, we can’t do it without the help of a supportive community. Please donate. To the kitten above and so many others like her – cats, dogs, guinea pigs and bunnies alike – it matters.
To support the APA on Giving Tuesday, please make a secure online donation HERE. Thank you for making a difference.
– Sarah, Executive Director