Amelia’s Story-Part 3

Judgments Made
It was about a week after Amelia was at the shelter that I saw a Facebook post that sent me into a tailspin. There was that beautiful Tabby face that I loved and a story of a “heartless

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Amelia being silly

person who adopted her and callously brought her back to the shelter”. The write up said, “I thought I had a forever home…”

My throat closed up, tears flowed and I felt as though someone had punched me in the gut. I had enough guilt as it was. I had done everything I could to help Amelia find her perfect home and yet, I trusted that with the letter I wrote, the shelter would write that she was a wonderful, loving feline who would do best in a one cat family.

Misunderstandings Resolved
Fortunately I know the folks at the shelter and I often volunteer there. I sent an email to the shelter director and received an immediate call back. To make a long story short, the individual who posted the information about Amelia had not read the letter I sent, nor did they have any of the backstory. They had fallen in love with Amelia and went into “protector mode” making an erroneous judgment about her return.

I fully understand the passion and compassion of the wonderful folks at our shelter and I didn’t want to know who wrote the post, I just wanted to ensure that Amelia’s story was known so that the chances of finding her a suitable forever home were increased.

Our shelter director (one of the best in the country) is passionate in her stance that people should not judge these situations without all the facts.  She was wonderful and the situation was sorted in the best manner for Amelia.

Happy Endings
It was several weeks later that I learned that Amelia had been adopted. I felt as though a ten ton weight had been taken away from my chest. I cried (again) but this time they were tears of thankfulness and joy.

The Emotional After Effects
I cannot tell you the emotional baggage that comes with returning an animal to the

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Oliver

shelter. Last summer we fostered two kittens and when we decided we wanted to bring

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Alberto

them into our home, it was hard filling out the forms and checking
the box that asks, “Have you ever returned an animal to the shelter?” Even though I know and work with the folks at our shelter
even though we received nothing but love and encouragement from the shelter,  I still felt like a pariah, a horrible person who didn’t deserve to adopt cats-ever.

Lesson Learned: The Shelter is Your Friend
I pray that no one ever finds themselves in the same situation we had with Amelia. If you do, and have employed every resource available, think of your shelter as your ally, not your enemy. I mentioned that we have a top class shelter and I do not exaggerate.  I would never have taken Amelia back to the shelter if they were not a “no-kill” facility and if they weren’t dedicated to see animals in their care find appropriate forever homes.  At the end of the day, it’s about the animal and any fear or pride or anguish we felt in the decision to return her was for her best interest and the best interest of our fur kids at home.

I am pleased to tell you that our shelter has recently implemented a program called “Home to Home” and it’s specific purpose is to give people who can no longer keep their pets the opportunity to find new, loving homes without having to drop pets off at the shelter. Pets go from one home into another.  Had this been in place when we had Amelia, I could have been a part of helping her find a new home.

Lesson Learned: Closure is Important
That brings me to another point.  Although I am thrilled that Amelia has a new home, I have no idea where she went. I don’t know if her new family received the letter and health records I sent with her. I will never rid myself completely of the sadness of losing Amelia but I believe, had I known where she went and that she’s happy I could completely put those feelings to rest.

Final Thoughts
As you can see, the happy ending I promised did happen. We still miss Amelia but I choose to believe she is happy and enjoying her new home. We still deal with the repercussions of

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Jasmine

that experience. Jasmine has not fully integrated back into the household but having the kittens come and “visit” her has helped resocialize her. We are also working regularly to bring Lily together with Jasmine.

I will be doing the happy dance the day we open the bedroom door and Jasmine struts down the hallway and enjoys the company of the other felines and all the places she used to love to sit and sleep and play.

Amelia’s story changed us.  Before we fostered, we felt we didn’t have the right to adopt anymore and the fear of finding ourselves in another “Amelia” situation terrified us. I still continue to assess what happened with Amelia, watching episodes of “My Cat From Hell” and wondering, “Would that have worked with Amelia?, Should we have done that with Amelia?” I doubt I’ll ever stop trying to figure out what happened and how we might have been able to fix it and keep Amelia in our home.

I wanted to tell you Amelia’s story because I know we are not the only people who have found ourselves in this painful situation. I wanted to tell you Amelia’s story to offer hope to those who have been or will be in our situation. Returning an animal to the shelter does not make you a horrible person, nor does it make the animal horrible. Returning an animal to the shelter is a “dirty little secret” that many are afraid to share. In fact, some shelters and rescue organizations will not allow you adopt if you have ever returned an animal. All too often, people are too quick to judge and censure those in these situations. Granted, there are far too many people who treat animals like possessions, tossing them away when they “don’t fit, people who are not willing to invest the time, money and heart it takes to help an animal fit into their household. But for those of us who have moved heaven and earth to keep an animal in our homes, we beat ourselves up enough, we don’t need any help.

imageWe bring animals into our homes with the intent of offering them love and a forever home.  Love isn’t always enough and forever isn’t always forever. Despite the heartache of Amelia’s story, we believe that the journey of love and adoption of an animal is a risk we will always be willing to take.

 

Follow Up To Amelia’s Story

16 thoughts on “Amelia’s Story-Part 3

  1. I am so glad that it worked out in the end for Amelia. And you bring up such a good point that people should not be quick to judge about why a cat is brought into a shelter. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this, I can tell how difficult this was for you to write and put it our there for the world to read. People so quickly forget that animals are individuals who have their own personalities, needs and stories.

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  3. Pingback: Amelia’s Story Part 2- The Right Thing is Often the Hardest Thing | Feline Opines

  4. So glad Amelia found a new home. You helped her find that home and that is wonderful. Your shelter’s Home to Home program sounds great. I would love to see something like that in our area.

    Thanks for sharing this heartfelt story – I am sure it wasn’t easy, but I know it will help others facing similar issues and painful choices.

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  5. Thank you for sharing your story! I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the way some adoption profiles are written and the judgment of people who give up a pet to the shelter. I feel like giving a pet up is tough for MOST people. I don’t know why Theo’s former owner brought him to the shelter, but I know that he was loved. I wish I had a way to contact her and let her know that he is okay. There is a huge difference between saying “This situation isn’t working for us or the pet” and deciding to give up a pet because it doesn’t match your new sofa. (Not sure if anyone has done that, but that is my idea of a bad reason to give up a pet.)

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    • I couldn’t agree more Beth. And when those who are forced to surrender an animal provide medical records and a biography, I wish shelters were more proactive in keeping that information and using it to help place the animal. This is why I am such a promoter of the Home ToHome program. It keeps pets in the home until a new family is found and allows the new family to dialogue with the former owner. Kind of like an open adoption.

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  6. I can’t believe that fool wrote such an uninformed online post. Her ignorance and unwillingness to find out the truth caused her to be malicious. We came up against that more than once in our shelter. Rogue volunteers who take it upon themselves to play their version of hero. Even if what she said was correct, it’s a totally inappropriate thing to do. I admire your honesty and willingness to share such a painful story. Your writing is really beautiful. I’m glad Amelia found a home & I hope Jasmine can fully get back to her normal.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    • Thanks! At the end of it all, it was an excellent learning experience for the shelter. The shelter director is very anti-judgment and she had an opportunity to use the experience. Thank you so much for the writing comments and critique. Transitioning from “mainstream” writing to the blogging arena has been a learning experience for me and any comment from fellow bloggers is gratefully accepted! My writing critique group is still trying to wrap their heads around the blogging aspect of my craft, I am slowly slopping in blog posts in conjunction with my other works in progress. Working blogger critiques are very valuable to me! Purrs and head bonks!

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