Friday, December 30, 2011

Oliver's Story (....and a medical update)

  Its 1:17 pm

    Old man winter can't seem to make his mind up about winter....we get some snow and temps in the high teens three days ago but today,its 43 degrees with a light rain. Just goofy....
  Completed our 2nd week of radiation today which included a doctor's visit. Of course the one thing we both want to know, "Is this working?",can't be answered because its way too soon to tell yet. But Dr. Eisberg  seemed more upbeat and explained how precise the treatment is compared to even as little as 6 years ago.
Lori asked if she will get another CT scan afterwards and Dr. Eisberg said it would be another PET scan and it wouldn't be for about 8 weeks after the last radiation treatment. He also mentioned for the first time the possibilty of another surgery on the colon. This will be the down the road a bit and only if the radiation doesn't work. But he didn't too concerned as of yet and so we won't be either.
   Spirits are good as we get to enjoy another 3 day break before heading back to Ann Arbor.
 Did you read the story about the man in Phoenix,Arizona who brought in his 9 month cat in for treatment at the Humane Society? They wanted 400 bucks which he didn't have...he called his mom who tried to pay with a credit card only to be that the HS doesn't take credit cards over the phone.
 With no money,he signed over his kitty so that cat could get the treatment he needed....at which point the HS killed the cat. I provided a link to the story below.
  In reading this tragic story,it brought back memories of my first time in dealing with Humane Society when I moved to Michigan.
   Lori and I met online back in early 1998.  One of the first things I learned about her was she loved cats as much as I do. While I didn't have a cat in San Jose,Lori had two...Geri and OSK (Outside Kitty).
In the spring of '99 while we talking on the phone,she heard a scratching at her back door. Thinking it was OSK,she turned on the light and saw this big grey and white kitty looking at her and meowing in a raspy voice.  She was a little scared at first because she was afraid the cat was sick and didn't want to risk getting Geri and OSK ill. The cat was also very big and she didn't know if it was friendly or not.
  But Lori decided to put a bowl of catfood and water down out of compassion. The cat chowed down,meowed and went his way. She did this while she was talking to me. The cat came back twice more and then vanished.
   I moved to Michigan in the summer of 99. I quickly bonded with Geri and especially OSK. He loved to curl up on my chest and sleep. It never failed to amaze Lori or our friend/landlord,Carolyn  because OSK was always so shy of people. In fact,he was called the Ghost Cat because none of Lori's friend ever saw him because he would hide.
  While we had talked about "grey kitty" when he showed up,we soon forgot about him as I moved in.
On Christmas night as we were getting ready for bed,we heard a scratching at the door. Thinking it was OSK,I opened it up and saw this grey and white cat looking me....and when he meowed,I knew it was the cat from before.
 I asked Lori to come look and sure enough,it was the same cat. I bent down slowly so the cat could sniff my hand...instead of hissing or biting,he headbutted it and purred. I ducked back in and put on a jacket and got some food and water. I took it outside,placed it down and sat by it and didn't move.
 The cat ate and drank and jumped into my lap,he was a big cat and by the rock hard feel of him,he was a stray unneutered kitty. He purred and let me take a good look at him. While handsome,he had cuts on his face and some old scars. His fur was dirty but he was very friendly and soon fell asleep in my lap. I sat there for 45 minutes until I was called inside.
  The cat came back the next three nights in a row and we decided we needed to help him to a good home.
We made our plans,we would lock up our cats and let the grey and white kitty inside. Once there,we would put him in a carrier and take him to the Livonia Humane Society.
 So that was the plan.....and it worked,until we discovered a small problem....he sprayed our house! He was marking his territory! Well,we couldn't have that so back outside he went while we came up with Plan B.
   Plan B was this: I would pick him up and take him to the bathroom,he would stay there with a litterbox,food and water until morning when I would drive him to the shelter.
  It worked well....until he started to meow. Not to go outside but because he was scared. I ended up sleeping with him in the bathroom. He was very happy and slept like the dead until Lori came in with some tuna.
   Lori had to work and I had the day off so I brought in the carrier. Now if there ever was a time the cat would fight,this would be the moment. I had jeans on and had a towel ready. I couldn't scruff him because he had simply a heavily muscled neck and I had nothing to scruff! Instead I dismantled the carrier,put the cat,which by now had a name,I called him Oliver after the orphan in Dicken's classic story,"Oliver Twist".
  Oliver made no fuss as I loaded him up and headed to the Humane Society. I had called earlier and had told them his story,they assured me he would get the best care and be put up for adoption.
It was a Thursday morning in early 2000 as I took Oliver down to the HS.
  Once there,I was asked to fill out some forms that stated I was surrendering him and also if I wanted to make a small donation. Lori and I agreed that a 40.00 donation was fair as they were going to have to get him pretty enough to adopt. We switched carriers and I told the worker we were concerned about his raspy meow. She assured me the vet would handle that up just fine. I asked if I could call for a update and she said I could. I went home a bit sad but happy Oliver was getting his 2nd chance.
   So you can imagine the shock I got when I called back the next day and was told that Oliver was "too sick" to adopt and he was going to be put down on Monday after a 3 day waiting period. I said "That is NOT what was told to me when I entrusted him with you. You said he had a little infection that could be knocked out by your vet. You NEVER said there was any chance of him dying!.
  I asked them if I could come get him but since I had surrendered him,I couldn't. We were heartbroken to the say the least. I talked to the shelter's director and pleaded our case to no avail.
 I told Lori...."I'm going back there Monday,he trusted me to do the right thing and now he is going to die. I want him to see a friendly face before he goes."
  I drove back down to the shelter and walked in. I decided to try to talk to the director face to face and ask for Oliver's life.
  My mood was sad as I walked in but that changed to anger as I walked by cage after cage that were empty. Where was all this overcrowding that we always hear about animal shelters? It certainly wasn't the case here!
Oliver could easily be worked into a forever home! This wasn't fair at all....
  As I stood there a woman volunteer walked up and said good morning. She must have seen my sad look because she asked me what was wrong. I told her a Reader's Digest version and she whispered "If you want the cat back....talk money. If you offer money,you have a good chance otherwise you have none".
  So as I stood and waited for the director,I feel a nudge on my elbow. It was Carolyn,our friend and landlord who was a great animal lover herself.
  She heard some of the story from Lori and had rushed down to make sure I didn't get into trouble.I finished out the rest of it to her. She simply nodded.
  We were ushered into the office and before I could a word,the director explained that Oliver was too much work to save and that the shelter had no choice then to put him to sleep. And again,before I could say a word,Carolyn spoke.
   She said...."Here is what is going to happen if Michael doesn't get this cat back. First,I'm Carolyn ****,you can check your records and see that I have donated a lot of money here,as do a lot of my friends. That will end this very day. I'll then call the national office and explain why your shelter is going to lose this huge chunk of money.
Second,I'm going to call all the local media outlets and tell them this story,how you lied to this man to his face and killed this cat without even trying to save him.
And lastly,I'm going to sue you directly for the return of every single penny I have donated here. Plus for his (she pointed at me) pain and suffering.

The director turned white and picked up the phone and ordered that Oliver be brought to his office ASAP.
I was standing there in awe....holy shit,who KNEW that Carolyn had that kind of clout? They brought Oliver in but I was a little worried,you see,I hadn't brought my carrier with me....but once again,Carolyn came to the rescue,she had brought her cat carrier with her....she knew what she was doing. I signed off on getting Oliver back...and as I turned to go,Carolyn spoke up to the director,"Aren't you forgetting something? Like the 40 dollars they donated? You need to give it back." He agreed but I only took 20 back,after all they had fed him for 4 days.
 Oliver meowed at me and purred. I hugged Carolyn and she went home. I sat in my car looking at this beautiful cat and started crying. I was so thankful that his life was spared....
  I had been writing a weekly newsletter since I had moved to Michigan and had written about Oliver and his ordeal. We took him to a vet and it cost us 725.00 to get him fixed and cleaned up. My readers donated 400.00 plus food to this end.
   Once fixed up,a co-worker of Lori's drove us to Warren for an adoption day at a local pet store. Lori had written up his story and placed it on his cage. As he sat there,he looked at me,trusting me once again. I made sure he wasn't going to a bad home and said no twice to people who wanted to adopt him but had dogs.
I left him there for the weekend and was going back to get him on Monday when the phone rang. A woman was on the phone and said that she had adopted Oliver. Her name was Susan and she was a sportswriter who was well known as a cat lover by the pet store. They had called her and told her about Oliver. She went down,took one look at him and fell in love with this gentle giant.
Oliver lived with Susan for 9 years before crossing the Rainbow Bridge. He really was a special cat....

This is why this story is just so heartbreaking....
http://news.yahoo.com/rescue-group-crisis-mode-cat-euthanized-194826690.html


What are your thoughts on this story?


Thanks for reading....

14 comments:

  1. I was sick when I heard that story. The fact that his mom was willing to give her credit card number over the phone and they wouldn't take it is just sad. I know that shelters are overcrowded and underfunded, but to euthanize an otherwise healthy kitten who had an owner is so wrong.

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  2. Agreed Gina,what really is sad is that its never the field officers who make those rash decisions yet its those same people that pay the price. I watched Animal Heroes: Phoenix on Animal Planet and see the love and respect the frontline workers have. I do believe this man should sue and be recognized for his pain and suffering.
    Thanks for commenting!

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  3. Michael! As you can see I'm doing some reading...trying to catch up. Kudos to you guys for saving Oliver! He lived out his last years on this earth loved and cared for because of your kindness :)

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  4. Thank you so much Jessica....he was an amazing cat and I wish he could have had another chance at a loving home....

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  5. What a nice story.. Thank you for sharing!

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  6. It's been a couple years, any updates to this story?

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    1. As a matter of fact,Oliver's mom will be writing about his amazing life. He had a lovely life....

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  7. Christine CrawfordApril 25, 2014 at 3:42 AM

    What a wonderful story Michael! Thank you for sharing it with us. And hugs to Carolyn for helping you save Oliver and to Susan for giving him a home and a loving family! :)
    PS...I really do enjoy your writing Michael. :)

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    1. Thank you Christine....it's funny,when I started posting,I barely had any traffic and no comments but because my old computer is getting updated,I have had repost these early entries and folks are discovering them....

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  8. Replies
    1. Yes.....it is.....it's hard sometimes for me to read entries like this.

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