When an elderly pet owner's health declined, a group of veterinary colleagues rallied to offer support and find a new home for his senior cats.
It’s never easy to say goodbye to a beloved pet. Working as a veterinary technician in Lafayette, Ind., I know this well. When a client we’ll call Frank brought in his beloved cat Baby, who passed away shortly after getting to the clinic, I took some extra time to comfort him. As we spoke, Frank became light-headed and nearly fainted. I suddenly saw more clearly how much he loved his dear old cats—Baby, Prince, Princess and Duchess, all more than 18 years old—and how strained his finances were.
Prince (left), Duchess (back) and Princess (right)
Photos courtesy of Tanika Weber, RVT
That night, I shared my sadness with a private online veterinary network made up of 135 people, most of whom have never met in person. Much to my surprise, many members of the group sent me money to help pay for Baby’s cremation and the care of the other gentle geriatrics.
Sadly, just a few days later, Frank learned that he suffered from terminal cancer. While heavily medicated, he reached out to me, because we’d formed a special friendship during Baby’s long illness. “If anything happens to me,” he pleaded, “Please make sure my babies are taken care of.”
Prince and his cat family desperately needed a home that could accommodate the special needs of senior felines.
After I shared this story—again, privately—with my online veterinary friends, an astounding series of events unfolded. Many members offered to help. One member, named Jackie, has extensive experience nurturing elderly cats with serious problems. Over a few days, the group of friends sent supplies for the cats to Jackie’s home via Amazon wish lists, and many made contributions through PayPal to help with the significant expenses of Prince, Duchess and Princess. I spent many hours speaking with Frank and his family and arranged one final visit on his way from the hospital to the nursing home so he could say goodbye to his dearest companions.
Princess waits for the start of her trip to her new home in North Carolina.
Last fall, I made the drive to Raleigh, N.C., where Jackie had a room fully set up for the cats. Princess, Duchess and Prince are already well-loved and their chronic illnesses, while costly, are being carefully managed. They will live out their time in peace, and Frank can rest comfortably knowing that his dearest friends are well-loved.
Senior pets have an amazing ability to reciprocate the love provided to them. Never doubt the ability of a simple man’s love for his dear animals to unite a large group of people to carry out a good deed.
Read how Weber’s group got started here.
Tanika Weber, RVT, is a technician in Lafayette, Ind.
At her new home, Duchess emerges from hiding to try her new diet food.