Last year, our organization received a call from a community member that needed our help. A young mom that was living on disability was faced with an emergency situation with her family pet. With a broken leg, surgery was unaffordable and wanting the very best for him, she made the decision to surrender Kilo into our care. Through the support of our generous community, Kilo was entered into the GTHS Guardian Angels program and he received emergency surgery and post-operative care at our shelter.
Two weeks after his surgery, the sister-inlaw to Kilo’s owner called us. She wanted to know how Kilo was doing and she was also trying to get our help. You see, since Kilo had been surrendered, his owner hadn’t been doing very well. Suffering from depression, Kilo had been her companion and her safety net. The two were so bonded that two years ago when Kilo’s owner had hemorrhaged in the middle of the night following her birth of twins, Kilo had woken her up, and by doing so, saved her life.
As the bond between Kilo and his owner was described to me, it confirmed everything that I know about the power and love between people and pets.
We know this to be true because we see it every day at our animal shelter and in our community. The stories that pour in from our adopters, our volunteers, from pet owners, all speak to the undeniable power of love between people and their pets.
Animals provide humans with companionship and unconditional love. The Human-Animal Research Institute considers animals to be a universally embraced essential element of human wellness.
We know this to be true because over the last 12 months, our Humane Education program, has proven it. Of the over 1300 students that participated in Humane Education programs, we measured an 18 percent increase in their social and emotional skill development. Students wrote that working with the animals taught them to care and made them feel happy and calm.
So, if pets make us healthier, and they are an essential part of our wellness, how do we make this wellness accessible to all humans? How do make this wellness available to Kilo’s owner? The reality is that in our area, 18% of the population lives below the poverty line which is 4% higher than the national area. We know that if you living in poverty your priorities are transportation, housing and access to food. Veterinary care, especially emergency surgery, is simply not an option.
Every day our small animal shelter receives more and more calls asking for help with cases similar to Kilo’s. Folks are turning to us in times of domestic violence, temporary loss of housing, unexpected illness of a beloved pet or just plain life, taking a turn for the worse. These stories all have a common theme, they want to keep their pets. They love them but they cannot afford the cost of the temporary boarding, care, medication or support.
Therefore, in November 2018 the GTHS launched our Pet Retention Program to ensure that pets like Kilo are never separated from their beloved humans again. Our program has helped over 25 pets and people like Kilo through emergency medical assistance and emergency boarding.
Two weeks after Kilo received his surgery, we called his owner and asked her if she wanted him back. At first speechless, and then crying, she profusely thanked us and asked when she could come. The next day her father drove her out to the shelter and we facilitated Kilo’s return. After taking pages and pages of notes on Kilo’s post-op instructions, she gave us $100 in cash that she had collected from friends and family. The moment when she visited Kilo will stay with us forever. You see through Kilo’s recovery he had not been doing well. He had stopped eating and drinking, he lay with his head down at the back of his cage, to many of us it seemed like he had given up the will to live.
It took a few minutes for him to realize his owner had entered the room but once he did he stood up for the first time in weeks, started meowing and purring against her and then flopped on his back for a belly rub.
At the GTHS we know that compassion comes in all shapes and sizes. We want to thank our generous donors that have supported our new initiative!