When Erin Rose came to the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter as a stray in December, the 15 year old cat was weak and in rough shape. Thanks to some diligent detective work on the part of shelter staff, her petmom was located thousands of miles away, now living in Florida. Erin Rose’s new friends then went to great lengths to make sure she was reunited with her petmom, and flew her cross country to send her home to her grateful owner, who had rehomed her when she left the area four years ago, much to her regret. The cat and her owner are happy to be in one another’s company again.
The Rohnert Park Animal Shelter is located in Rohnert Park, near Santa Rosa, California.
Adventures of Erin Rose – a happy shelter story
Erin Rose has packed several lifetimes of adventure into her 15 years. She’s probably used up a few of her nine lives too. But, of course, we’ll never know all of it. Here’s the part that we do know.
For the first 11 years Rose lived with her mom, Rebecca, and a couple other cats, at least the last part here in Rohnert Park. When Rebecca had to move to Florida a few years ago, she made the hard decision to leave Rose behind. Not knowing if she would find a place that allowed as many pets as she had and thinking Rose was too old for such a trip, she gave her cat to a neighbor and left the state. In hindsight, she claims this was the worst decision of her life. You know you love all your pets, but there’s always one that stands out as super special. Either she’s the most affectionate or the quirkiest, but something is there that makes the bond strong and lasting. Rebecca says that’s how it was with her and Rose.
Fast forward to a cold day this past December when a thin, dehydrated, old stray cat was brought into our shelter. Lo and behold she has a microchip, so the search for her family begins. Phones had been disconnected and our letter came back as undeliverable, but an alternate contact led us to an ex-husband who gave us a current phone number to the owner – yay! But the owner now lives in Florida – boo! No, she doesn’t remember the name or have any contact info for the person she left the cat with. She’s saddened to know they allowed her to get lost and had not come to look for her. And she’s always regretted giving away this cat. She would love to have her back if only there was a way to get her to Florida. We both ended the conversation agreeing to look into options to make that happen.
In the meantime we were fattening Rose up and making sure she was healthy enough to make the trip. A blood panel showed that she was a basically healthy older cat, and we updated her vaccines. She was the sweetest cat, and we were thrilled to think there was a home and person who really wanted and would love her. We have a hard time adopting even 8- to 10-year-old cats let alone someone in their teens.
Our attempts to find a transportation rescue group that would take on sending an elderly cat across the country were going nowhere. So we switched tactics and priced out the cost of flying the cat through cargo and then approached our nonprofit, the Animal Shelter League, about paying that expense. They agreed to do it because Rebecca was on a fixed income and could not afford that cost. One hurdle down, we still needed to provide an airline-approved carrier and get a health certificate and then find a volunteer to get her to the airport early on a weekday morning.
You can see how many pieces need to fall into place to save just one animal. It pretty much takes the whole village to make it happen. But it happens over and over again. That’s probably the best part of the job here. Seeing those miracles and helping to make them happen.
Last Tuesday was D-day and, of course, it was when the storms were happening all along the East Coast and affecting air traffic. We were so afraid Rose would get stuck somewhere and miss a connection but she must have a charmed life. She went through without a hitch, was not stressed at all (seemingly) – she didn’t even mess inside her carrier (which she was locked in for 12 hours) and was picked up by her mom on the other end.
When we called Rebecca to check that Rose had arrived safely, she said the cat came out of the carrier purring, ate a whole can of food and just curled up in her lap like she had never left. I’ve never heard so much happiness in someone’s voice as she described what it was like to have her old friend back.
Another animal in a good home – just another day at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter.