It is often said that a dog is a man’s best friend, but for one Vietnam veteran a special needs cat – not a canine – fills that role.
It is a sad truth that young, small and healthy cats and dogs are the first to be adopted at shelters across the country. This means older, large-breed and special need pets are left to either live out the rest of their lives in shelters or, even worse, are euthanized.
Every year animal shelters throughout the United States care for approximately six to eight million dogs and cats, however, more than half are put to death because no one adopts them.
Cats like Tweedy, a three year-old tabby with a grade two heart murmur and eye disease, might have been one of those tragic statistics if not for charities like Pets for Patriots and their national network of animal welfare organizations. Instead, he found his forever home with a Vietnam veteran who saw beyond the adult cat’s medical disabilities.
Love at first sight
Lawrence, a Vietnam War Army veteran, was captivated when he first met Tweedy.
“He had strange eyes, they really drew my attention.”
Coincidence led Lawrence to Tweedy. After wandering into the Metro Detroit Petco where some of the Michigan Humane Society’s cats are available for adoption, Lawrence began talking to the shelter staff.
“I asked to look at the cats and was attracted to Tweedy because of the way he looked,” Lawrence says.
Tweedy’s eyes appear all black, lacking the elliptical shaped iris that most cats have. As a result, his vision is impaired which, along with the heart murmur, makes Tweedy an at-risk, special needs pet – the type that most people overlook. Sadly, the cat had already been in and out of a few adopted homes, but the Michigan Humane Society was committed to helping this special tabby find his forever home.
Two four-legged friends makes life twice as nice
Tweedy is a big cat, weighing more than 10 pounds, twice the size of Lawrence’s other tabby cat, named Maui.
“At first, animals have to test each other,” Lawrence says. “But they’re friends now and they sleep next to each other.”
“You’ve got to be open-minded and accept the pet for his eccentricities just like he has to accept yours,” he says. “I wanted to give Tweedy a good home given his history of being bounced around. We’ve become great friends.”
Lawrence plans to take a special training class offered by the Michigan Humane Society so he can help improve the adoption potential of cats at the shelter.
“They need a volunteer to move cats out of their cages and into the bonding area,” Lawrence says. “A lot of people are allergic to cats so they can’t do it, but I’m more than willing.”
Other than volunteering his time, the Vietnam veteran finds more ways to give to others. He regularly donates to charities whose mission is focused on pets and adoption, such as Pets for Patriots, the Michigan Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
“I think they all do such a fantastic job,” he says.
In the end, Lawrence realizes that it all comes down to getting animals out of the shelters and into loving homes.
“Animals need a break, they really do. There’s so many of them that need to be adopted.”
What special qualities do you love most about your pet?