Rescuing Kittens with the Houston Humane Society – Weruva

With a heat warning at 81 degrees, the air thick and visible all around, I pulled up to the Houston Humane Society, ready to meet the Rescue Coordinator, Madeleine Cantrell—Maddie for short. Maddie had recently adopted Toothless, a chihuahua mix with, you guessed it, no teeth, and was taking the internet (and Weruva) by storm. Toothless and the Senior Dog Squad have quickly grown from 1,000 to over 15,000 followers in just a few months!

Weruva and Toothless quickly became superfans of each other, so I hopped on a plane to oversee the Weruva donations down to where Toothless was rescued: the Houston Humane Society in Houston, Texas. I was only there for 36 hours, but those 36 hours were some of the most rewarding of my life and a tangible reminder of why I do my job.

The Plan for the Day

When I heard about Toothless' rescue from a hoarder's house, I felt an immediate connection. Pickles, my rescued long-haired chihuahua from Arizona, was saved in a similar manner. Pickles is my heart dog; Toothless is Maddie's. Toothless joined the Senior Dog Squad, Maddie's growing senior pack of blind, jawless, ragged, absolutely amazing dogs.

Weruva wanted to do their part to connect Toothless' favorite dinner (Fun Size Meals) and Houston Humane. So we shipped over 1,800 meals for the community pantry, foster program, and pets in their beautiful downtown Houston shelter. Packed with my gimbal, my phone, and some anxiety butterflies, I exited the rental car, texted Maddie, 'I'm here!' and headed towards the intake building. I definitely should have eaten breakfast because I was about to be thrown into the middle of a cat rescue.

Toothless the Chihuahua

Toothless the Chihuahua takes a moment to pose with his favorite food, BFF Fun Size Meals!

Unexpected Cat Rescue at Houston Humane Society

On my first step onto the sidewalk of the intake building, I see a flash of black dart across the dry brown desert landscaping, a shout, "Did you see where she went?!" I shouted back, "That way!" and swiveled to my right; I joined a group of five volunteers and employees who had just found a small black office garbage can inconspicuously placed against the entrance, holding a heartbreaking surprise.

Someone was kind enough to bring these lives to Houston's open-admission shelter but not kind enough to open the door to surrender. They must've yet to learn that Houston Humane Society is an open admission location where they cannot turn away any animal brought in. This means they also must've not known the kind of love that happens behind the door, from adoption to training to free vaccinations, low-cost spay/neuter programs, and access to a pet food pantry where pet parents who can't afford food or treats can get help: anything and everything someone would need to help these lives until they could be fostered or adopted.

@weruva #Adopt. #Foster. #Donate. #Volunteer. Thank you, @Houston Humane Society & @The Senior Dog Squad ♬ Killswitch Lullaby (Slowed + Reverb) - The Lonely Tree

During all this, I met Maddie, who apologized for what I had walked into, the "real chaos that happens," she says, sweat dripping down hers and my face. While searching for the cat, she told me to turn on the camera for some live action. With the COPS theme song playing in my head, I popped my phone into my gimbal and followed Maddie to the front door, where I was met with two tiny kittens in a volunteer's hands, one barely meowing and the other lifeless. Shocked, I asked where they came from.

A small black office garbage can sat up against the side of the entrance. And that flash of black? It was their mom, scaling the fence into the adjoined Behavior Rehabilitation Center, where dogs work through grumpy and sassy behaviors in an open environment. The last place a cat should go, but she was eventually captured, unhurt, and reunited with her babies; all three are in excellent health now, growing with mom and waiting for their forever homes.

A New Plan: Kitten Season

As the saying goes, 'The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.' I knew my plans had changed. I was there for Weruva, but I was also there for this cat and her kittens. I have been in contact with many rescues, shelters, TNR programs, and colony caretakers and have heard repeatedly that this kitten season has been one of the worst, with kittens popping up like daisies in the spring.

These hardworking, selfless volunteers and employees know the truth that kitten season never truly ends. Kittens are mature enough to have their first litter around six months, so kitten season is a year-round experience, with numbers only growing as the months roll on.

Weruva Kitten Infographic

I got the facility tour from Maddie as she proudly showed me every nook and cranny, with full access to all the amazing work they are doing out of the public eye. I asked about their social media team and if we could do a live together from the shelter! But they were out documenting the rescue and community efforts from the floods that had plagued the area recently, so I found myself in a corner kitty condo room filled with kittens up for adoption. I reflected on my time there, only an hour in, as Snowy, a white, loud kitten, screamed in my face and asked, how can we do more? 

Meeting Toothless and the Senior Dog Squad

Finally, I met the star, Toothless, in Maddie's kitten-NICU-turned-office and some other Senior Dog Squad members. Porter, a white husky previously adopted from HHS, returned when the owners could no longer care for his diabetes. Dodie is a tiny replica of Toothless without a lower jaw. Then there is Sunshine, another "crusty and old" (her description, not mine) purebred Maltese that had been surrendered and adopted by Maddie.

When we ended, I went to say goodbye to everyone and thank them for their commitment. As I did, two palm-sized rat-looking brown things bid me farewell in the hands of a volunteer. Two puppies, eyes yet to be open, had just been dumped. They were headed to be bottle-fed every two hours, around the clock, just like the two kittens we found when I arrived.

Giving Back to Pets is What It's All About!

Weruva was started by rescuing a cat off the street, and there I was, almost twenty years later, rescuing a cat off the street. At that moment, I couldn't have been prouder to be part of Weruva. With each person I met and each animal I snuggled, I was reminded why I do this job and how important it is to perpetuate Weruva's commitment to an "Awesome Happy Awesome Healthy" life for all pets!

How can you help? Volunteer at your local shelter (many will let you pet and play with cats all day) and support them by following, liking, sharing, and commenting on their social media posts. A simple share could help a pet find their forever home.

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