Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Entry 4075 Mr Scooterpants!

I mentioned--in Entry 3911 A Prior Love of Travel--that one of the reasons I did not want to be away from home any more was the new kitten we had found, on April 14, 2010, just two weeks old (and let me say that she has grown up to be quite the pretty young lady!) Sadly however, last April--within a two week span--we had to put down the two cats I had had for what was then 14 years, Lowell and Goldwater. There are pictures of them mixed in with other photos from my home in Latrobe, PA...and later on in Tucson, AZ here.

This left Miercoles with no play partners...she seemed okay with that, for a while. I soon noticed that she depended more on us for playtime, which was okay except we weren't here much during the day. So, In September of last year, we adopted a partner for her...we went to the Arizona Animal Welfare League and picked out Cashew (as he was known then), an adorable two month old male kitten whose markings were so similar, you would think he was either her brother or that she gave birth to him.

The poor little guy had a very rough start...while at first he was fine, after a day or so we noticed he was having real trouble chewing his food...and he made small whimpering noises while he slept. He had lost almost all of his energy...though we had kept the two of them separated for the first few days, they were soon playing energetically with each other. That is, until he got sick...then she kind of turned on him when he didn't feel like playing back. It turned out that he had Calicivirus, and from what we read on the Internet, he likely had it when we got him at the AAWL.

I was furious...while it cost us almost $800 (not including his adoption cost), I was more concerned that the poor kitty was suffering greatly...he had an ulcer on his tongue that must have been very painful, making it very hard for him to eat. Additionally, his system was weakened enough that he also developed a bad respiratory infection, which also attacked Miercoles, resulting in another large vet bill to treat her.

How could he have been allowed to come home with us, with this condition?

Supposedly all animals are examined before they are released...certainly there had to have been some indications that he wasn't well! I expressed my concern by a telephone call to the AAWL...which was not returned. I sent several emails, finally receiving a response that, essentially, the AAWL was not and could not be held responsible for Cashew's condition, that Calicivirus was common in shelter animals, and there was no indication that he had it when we got him. There were many stories on the Internet about entire shelters that became infected with Calicivirus, and all the animals had to be put down. This can be serious business.

I was furious...all I wanted was a simple apology: "Yes, we're very sorry that this has happened. Perhaps we need to be more careful in our screening and release procedures. Please accept our apologies." What if a little boy or girl had been given a pet like him as a gift? Imagine their disappoinment! Imagine the family who has no patience and simply returns him, which is bound to be more traumatic to him.

Eventually, after several emails in which I threatened to not only withdraw our financial support but also refuse to give them a good reference (we had already made several good-sized donations in the past few years), I got an apology...well, sort of. It was worded close to the way I had wished for...and it only took three emails back and forth to receive it!

My official position regarding this matter is as follows: in 1998 my then-girlfriend and I visited the AAWL and adopted Lowell and Maynard, a several-month-old kitten that she took with her a year or so later when we broke up. I have never had any complaints about any part of that adoption experience, and indeed went back with my fiancee last September to choose Miercoles' new companion.

Will we still support them with donations? Yes--the service they provide as a no-kill shelter is invaluable. Will we recommend them to others looking for a new pet? Yes...providing that you INSIST that the animal be THOROUGHLY examined (or, as thorough as the AAWL is in their examination). Ask many questions! Maybe, take a look at the prospective pet yourself, learn the signs and indications of possible illnesses, and choose accordingly.

Recently Cashew has gotten a new name, which was pretty hard to finally come up with. I believe that while you can name a pet whatever you want, it's their traits and characteristics that really should determine its name...and the one that finally evolved for him is R J Scooterpants.

The "R J" comes from Robert John, who scored a hit record in the 70s with "Sad Eyes". Our little guy has eyes that are never completely wide open--his eyelids droop down a bit at the top, making him appear sad. It also can stand for Running and Jumping, which he does a lot, and the reason why he got the name Scooter. (He also got it after the sick rabbit in an old Minute Maid TV commercial). The "-pants" part is because when he runs, his gait is such that he looks like he's wearing a pair of pants that are too big for him (if that were even possible!).

There are pictures of Miercoles well as those of Mr Scooterpants.