Santa Fe Scoop

Making A Difference - A true story about following your instincts and doing the right thing!

I woke up to the ringing phone; my elderly neighbors needed help. I rushed over groggy, in my jeans and pajama top, just as they were moving a large trunk away from the garage wall. There, between the framing, we were stunned to see a single, squirming mass of newborn kittens, squealing for a meal.

I fostered cats before, and share my home with four cats and three dogs. Everyone knows I would never turn my back on an animal in need. So, I wasn't surprised that they had called me.

I scooped up the kittens and rushed back to my place. Where on earth was their mamma? I had some powdered formula for older kittens. But not knowing how long these babies were without nourishment, I decided it was better than nothing. While hurriedly mixing the powder I made some phone calls. My neighbor and good friend, JoAnn, was rushing over to help. Even at 84 she managed to take care of me through two surgeries, and could always be counted on in an emergency. And through some quick investigative work, I learned that the mamma cat had been taken to the Animal Shelter the previous day.

We jumped in my car and I plopped a cozy tub full of noisy kittens on JoAnn's lap. She was intimidated and had no idea how to feed such tiny creatures. But with no time for pleasantries, my instructions were abrupt; squirt the formula into their mouths, don't worry about the mess, and most importantly don't shove the eye dropper down their throats.

Then, off we raced!

Within minutes we turned onto a busy, four lane road- and I just couldn't believe what I saw then. A little brown Shih Tzu was darting in and out of the traffic! Horns blared but most drivers simply looked stupefied. Were they sitting there maybe expecting the puppy to start directing traffic, or what? Although still half asleep, with my brain overloaded, I could always count on my quick instincts to steer me in the right direction. I would not allow this little dog to get injured or, worse yet, killed.

I pulled over and followed the dog into traffic, hoping that at least no one would deliberately hit a human being! The puppy was growling and snapping. I had little success trying to coax him back onto the sidewalk. Thank goodness, two young women in separate cars finally pulled over. One was already calling for Animal Control while the other tried to help me corral the dog. Just as I was rushing back to my car to grab a towel, the little bugger made another dash into traffic. With adrenalin pumping through her veins, the obviously athletic woman just dove for the dog, not once thinking of her own safety. Although she did get a few surface bites, I got there in time to throw the towel over his head to prevent any further injuries. The other woman asked how else she could help, even offering to drive to the shelter if need be.

Luckily, I had my own Shih Tzu's carrier case in the car, and between the three of us we managed to shove him in. As I shut the hatchback, all I could see in the carrier was one large yellow towel dancing around wildly!

By then, JoAnn, who had missed all the action in the street, was relaxed and had gotten the knack of feeding the kittens. With their bellies filling up, they were quiet and some were even falling asleep. As I started the car I just hoped there wasn't another obstacle waiting up ahead to further delay our mission. Thankfully, we encountered no bears, flying saucers, or other deterrents and arrived at the shelter within 15 minutes.

Mamma cat was surrendered to me, and the shelter agreed to take the little family in after I fostered them for the next seven weeks. It was a wondrous experience watching the kittens grow, and I found the time passing much too quickly. I brought them to the shelter where they were altered and quickly adopted.

But I worried about that mamma cat. She was only a kitten when she found herself pregnant, homeless and hunting for small rodents just to survive. I watched her nurture her offspring, and saw how over time she let my other animals get nearer to them. She was an amazing little mamma!

She had been moved so many times in her short life, and was just beginning to get comfortable enough to venture into the rest of the house. I hated the thought of her being abandoned and moved yet again, just when she was getting used to my furry family..

Against my better judgement, or maybe because of it, Isis now has a forever home ... right here with us.

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Comment by Julie L on October 17, 2009 at 6:46pm
What a sad story. I do believe things are getting better and animal cruelty laws and enforcement are slowly making a difference, but it also takes community pressure, which often starts with one voice to make a difference. And we have Scoop to help with that!
Comment by Linda on October 17, 2009 at 6:39pm
An incident from many years ago, when I was too young to know how to deal with things, still upsets me. I had a part time job working at someone's home office. The desk faced the window and I saw a large dog wandering around. I didn't think too much of it since it was a rural area.

The next thing I know, a truck full of teenage boys came by and stopped by the dog. Then, to my horror, they aimed for the dog and stepped on the gas! I was horrified and ran right out. I argued with the boys until they left, then called Animal Control. A large, white van showed up and the 'officer' lifted up the dog with his now broken leg dangling. There was nothing to support the dog in the expanse of the van except for a tire inner tube! What horrible pain that dog must have been in.

Even thinking back there wasn't much I really could have done. It happened in the mid 1980's, way before home use of computers. I doubt that any laws were in place where the 'boys' could be held accountable. Back then I actually trusted that Animal Control knew what they were doing, and that the owner would be notified. And I'm sure they didn't think anything was wrong with a dog with a broken leg tumbling around in the back of the van.

Things have changed since then, including the fact that I've grown older and much wiser! I've learned to question everything, not blindly trust anyone, and to say what needs saying and do whatever needs doing. I've had my share of arguing with some of the 'do-nothings' at Animal Control. Yet, sadly, I still see people walking by animals in need, figuring the next person might do something ... or not.
Comment by Julie L on October 17, 2009 at 6:07pm
It's always a struggle to know what to do when you see an animal in traffic. I commented this on Claudia's dead dog blog, sadly a case where no one pulled over to help in time. Driving in Denver last Wednesday a cop stopped traffic during rush hour on I-25 to catch 2 dogs. It worked and they were caught without a scratch. A temporary traffic jam is better than a crash and hurt or worse dogs. I think it's the best call all the way around. Thanks to all of you out there who stop or make the calls to get help and help find the owners.
Comment by Linda on October 17, 2009 at 4:18pm
Thank you, Judy. But I couldn't have accomplished everything had it not been for everyone who helped.

I realize this reads a bit like fiction. I wrote it as an entry for a contest where I compete with my photography, photoshop images and writing. Since it was a true story, I figured I might as well share it here.
Comment by Judy Prisoc on October 17, 2009 at 11:04am
I once encountered a stray dog in traffic on my way to the airport. I was dropping my husband off, so at least it did not cause me to miss a flight. I scooped the snappy little thing up in a towel and somehow managed to get my husband to the airport and the dog to the shelter. This was in Illinois. Fortunately there were no kittens involved!
Comment by Judy Prisoc on October 17, 2009 at 11:01am
You are a true hero! Thank you for this wonderful story.
Comment by Linda on October 17, 2009 at 10:33am
Thanks to both of you for commenting. Yes, Isis is very happy here. She does go outside, but doesn't seem to stay there very long. I think she really appreciates having a full tummy and a warm bed. And now that her kittens are gone, she has reverted to being a kitten herself. She snuggles and wants to play, too. I just hope her babies are all in good homes.
Comment by Lisa on October 17, 2009 at 8:43am
What a wonderful, and stressful adventure! Thank you for sharing it Kat! I too have a hard time saying no at times, and many wonderful animals have found their home with me. :)
Comment by Lily Azures on October 16, 2009 at 9:30pm
What a great ending...I am so glad this lost little girl is now safe with you.

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