Every year, people surrender their pets to Animal Care Services (ACS) on account of losing their home, being evicted or moving to a property that won’t allow pets. This is the story of Johnny, who faced that decision and decided to keep his 12 year old cat with him, in spite of the adversity of homelessness.
A friend in rescue called me one day after having visited an apartment complex where there were numerous strays. A very mangy cat needed immediate help. Saddened by the cat’s condition, she tried to reach out to pet it, without luck. Johnny, the on-site maintenance person for the apartments, picked the cat up, took it to my friend, and expressed his concern about the cat’s declining health. He wished he could somehow get help for the cat. He also voiced his concern for the safety of the other cats at these apartments due to how nearby residents treated them. Luckily, this cat was taken in, rehabbed and adopted out by Wayward Whiskers Cat Rescue. This one meeting triggered a series of rescue missions where Johnny helped us get 9 cats out of these apartments for spay/neuter surgeries and adoption. Although that is great, it’s not the most important part of what occurred there. The most important thing was what I learned about the man who reached out for help on behalf of these cats.
Johnny fed and cared for all the cats in and near the apartments he works at on a daily basis. If a cat was missing, he would know. If a cat didn’t come for feeding time, he would know. If a cat was injured, he would know – because he cared and paid attention. The cats recognized the jingle of his keys when he would walk through the apartments and would come running for food when they heard that familiar noise. As we were on rescue trip #2 at these apartments, Johnny mentioned that he couldn’t believe how cruel people could be to animals. He recounted how he kept his own cat with him through an extremely challenging situation and how his cat helped him maintain his humanity throughout the tough times. At one point, Johnny became homeless. He was faced with a decision on what to do with his cat since he was losing his place to live. Rather than give his cat up, he decided to put it in a harness and trained him to walk on a leash. Johnny now has stability and he still has his cat. One must give credit where credit is due – I give that credit to Johnny. Johnny affected change in his immediate environment just by caring. By caring, he saved 9 + cats. And it is by caring that we came to know Johnny’s story. In life and in rescue, it is important to know the stories of those who will make these types of decisions in the face of adversity. It gives us hope.