Emerson’s Story: Abused special needs cat gets wheelchair and new life

Caroline Rossignol spends a few moments getting to know Emerson at the Houlton Humane Society.
Caroline Rossignol spends a few moments getting to know Emerson at the Houlton Humane Society. Photo credit: Julia Bayly/Bangor Daily News

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A 10 year old special needs cat who became paralyzed when he was abused is getting around on his own set of wheels now, is a shelter mascot, and has found a loving home.

Meet Emerson – if you have not already done so – the mascot of the Houlton Humane Society in Houlton, Maine. Emerson came to the shelter with multiple issues last year after suffering abuse at the hands of the woman who dropped him off.

Emerson came into the Houlton Humane Society in August 2014 with broken ribs and neck, spinal damage and chemical burns on his feet. Despite the severity and permanence of his injuries, HHS decided to give him a chance at life. He was adopted by the organization’s Executive Director Heather Miller. Emerson loves life now, gets around with the help of a wheeled cart and greets visitors to the humane society when he goes to work with his mom. He is sweet, friendly and very affectionate, even with strangers.

He has a Facebook page: Emerson. A cat with a lot of HEART.

Here is Emerson’s story, as told at his Facebook page:

Emerson came into the Houlton Humane Society in early August 2014. The woman who brought him in claimed she “snapped” his neck because he was annoying to her. It was very apparent after seeing him, that he had some major damage from the abuse he had endured.

After a vet visit, we learned he had a broken neck that healed wrong due to no medical care, spinal cord damage from being kicked or some sort of trauma to his back. He also had broken ribs and 3 of his feet were burned.

We contacted animal control, as this poor cat had suffered at the hands of a monster. Cruelty charges were put into place. Well, The millers (who run the shelter) took Emerson home to foster and fell in love. He requires a lot of care, but the love and light in his eyes makes it all worth it.

He is in a wheelchair, as he lost feeling in his back legs. His legs give out and he falls over without assistance, due to the nerve damage in his back. He also requires IV fluids and meds once a day because his neck is sideways, therefor he can not drink on his own. His teeth are bad, so he only eats canned food. He is a fighter.

Some have said “why not put him down?” We can honestly say, he is not ready. He loves life…loves it the way it is. We love him and know everyday, he is a blessing to all that meet him. He radiates strength and forgiveness. He deserves this chance, and we will give it to him.

Emerson’s petparents, the Millers, operate ‘Millers safe Haven’ in their home, where they care for 15 special needs pets. Among those pets is the dog seen in the video on Emerson that is included below. The dog, Kino, a 200-pound St. Bernard with congenital heart failure was rescued from a meth lab.

An Emerson&friends millers safe haven gofundfe page set up to help with the costs of caring for the Millers’ special needs pets includes some information on the court case against Emerson’s abuser:

Animal cruelty charges have been filed against the woman who surrendered Emerson, and she’s supposed to go to court later this month. Unfortunately, the law is not on Emerson’s side. Miller has even seen animal cruelty cases end with the offender getting some of their animals back.

“[The court date has] been pushed back at least three times due to some other case coming up,” Miller says. “We’re in a small community. Sadly the state of Maine does not have the strictest animal cruelty laws.”

The Bangor Daily News visited HHS last Friday for a feature on Emerson that includes the photos here and the video below.

“He was brought in to us last August,” Heather told the BDN. “A lady found him, and when he was checked out by our vet, it was determined he had a broken neck, spinal cord damage, broken ribs and what looked to be chemical burns on his feet.”

Heather told the paper that she and her husband John tried making a wheelchair cart for Emerson but it was heavy and unwieldy. someone who saw the cart at Facebook sent Emerson a lightweight set of wheels that he is easily able to use. By December he’d become adept at using his wheels and was enjoying his newly-regained mobility.

“We put him in the wheelchair for a couple of hours at a time,” Heather said. “In the beginning, he had to get his front leg muscles built up.”

Emerson has to wear a diaper due to incontinence and he wears a onesie to prevent chafing from his wheels.

Emerson is well known both in his local area and in far off places. When preparing this post, I  noticed that several of my own Facebook friends from the US, UK and Australia have ‘liked’ his page. He has helped HHS to raise thousands of dollars for local animal rescue efforts.

“The mailman asked me not long ago, ‘Who the heck is Emerson?’” Heather told the BDN. “He gets way more letters and packages than I do and has a lot more clothes than I do because people keep sending him outfits.”

Heather added that around town she is known less as “Heather’ and more as “Emerson’s mom.”

“He is my heart, my baby boy,” Heather said. “He has so much personality, and he doesn’t know he’s different.”

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Watch the BDN feature on Emerson:

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Emerson the cat does not let his disability get the best of him. Thanks to a special wheelchair, he is able to rush to greet everyone who walks into the Houlton Humane Society.
Emerson the cat does not let his disability get the best of him. Thanks to a special wheelchair, he is able to rush to greet everyone who walks into the Houlton Humane Society. Photo credit: Julia Bayly/Bangor Daily News

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Heather Miller, executive director of the Houlton Humane Society, believes every animal deserves a chance. Among her many rescues are Emerson who gets around thanks to a special wheelchair, and Kino, a massive St. Bernard with congestive heart failure who was saved from a meth lab.
Heather Miller, executive director of the Houlton Humane Society, believes every animal deserves a chance. Among her many rescues are Emerson who gets around thanks to a special wheelchair, and Kino, a massive St. Bernard with congestive heart failure who was saved from a meth lab. Photo credit: Julia Bayly/Bangor Daily News

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4 thoughts on “Emerson’s Story: Abused special needs cat gets wheelchair and new life”

  1. What a MONSTER!!!!!! The penalties for cruelty, abuse and neglect must be elevated to felony status. These poor animals cannot vote so the representatives in these states don’t care what happens to them. Please check the voting records for your state to see how your senators and congressmen or women voted. Personally, I think she should suffer the fate as the poor cat. Love to see her “fall” and break her neck, ribs, and legs.Just wish I could be there to NOT help her.

  2. I love Emerson so much. He is having issues right now. We are all praying for him. He is on facebook. Please go support this baby. I hope the witch who did this to him pays. I would love to kick the crap out of her myself.

  3. I absolutely love Emerson and all the animals!! I’m on the page on Facebook and look for videos and updates everyday!!! God bless every one of you for what you do!!! Keep up the AMAZING work!!!

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