I wanted to share a turning point in my life, one where I felt very desperate and alone. Back in 1995, my calico cat “Mickey” was really sick. I had no idea what was wrong with her so I got out my Yellow Pages, looked up the closest animal hospital, and made an appointment. As a college student, I was working full time and living in a makeshift loft in back of a storefront. To say I a struggling student would have been an understatement. I remember wrapping Mickey in a towel, placing her in a box, and driving to the hospital. Upon entering the hospital, I was not greeted but was told my carrier was inadequate. I remember feeling ashamed. Finally, it was our turn to see the veterinarian, an older man, who asked me why I, “waited so long to seek care.” I could feel tears in my eyes as I thought to myself, “He must think I don’t love my cat.” Then he asked me, “Does she go outside?” I explained she was free to go through an open window and she went out during the day, but always slept with me at night. I remember him looking down at me, quietly saying that without much money and because I didn’t care about my cat’s safety, there wasn’t much he could offer. I also remember crying all the way back home.
I did not give up. I found a feline oncologist who agreed to meet with me because I told him my cat had cancer. I didn’t know what else to do and, thinking that this type of specialty veterinarian was the best, he was my only hope. The experience at this specialty animal hospital was totally different. I was warmly greeted, I was given an opportunity to explain my situation, and I was respected and made to feel that my cat mattered. That I mattered. I will never forget this experience and will always be grateful to this kind veterinarian who diagnosed and treated Mickey. She went on to live to be almost 17 years old.
Like so many other people, I was a cat owner who never planned on adopting a pet. I found her at the duplex where I was living. She was pregnant and I knew I needed to spay her, but where? I waited in line at the San Gabriel Humane Society to have her vaccinated and spayed. I think I paid $30 – which seemed like a lot of money at the time. Mickey liked to be outside so I continued to allow her to climb in and out of my apartment window. She survived the coyotes in Sierra Madre, the busy street when I lived in Pasadena, and eventually moved to Altadena where she remained indoors most of her senior life.
Maybe that is why when I meet a pet owner, especially one who is young and I see really trying to do what’s best for their pet, I feel a special connection and see my Mickey in their pet. My Mickey was with me during the lonely times and the happy times and she made me feel I was loved when no one else in the world seemed to notice or care about me. She was always there by my side when I was sick or when I just needed someone to talk to. Her purr was priceless!
This Sunday, DDR is hosting a cat spay and neuter day, with a goal of sterilizing at least 80 pet cats. Each surgery will cost DDR approximately $70. My goal is to raise $5,000 to cover the cost of sponsoring all the surgeries for kittens and cats that belong to low income families. People just like I was. People who love their cats but may not have $10 for a vaccination and certainly cannot afford $70-100 for a spay or neuter surgery.
People trying to understand what DDR does often ask me, “If they can’t afford to care for the cat or dog, why did they get a pet? Why aren’t they more responsible?” To that I reply, “LOVE”. Loving a pet is not always a plan. In fact, sometimes we rescue a pet only to find out they rescued us.
Volunteer Veterinarians and techs at our monthly wellness clinic
Our monthly free clinics are a place where vet tech students get hands-on experience working with cats and dogs
I truly appreciate your support, and thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. I hope my personal life experience touches your heart as each pet and pet owner that DDR serves touches mine.