Archive for the ‘Angel Fund Grant Recipients’ Category

Angel Fund Helps Keep Miss Kallie Healthy

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

Tim Genoway, who had not worked in four years, was concerned about his dog, Miss Kallie, earlier this year.

“I went to two or three veterinarians’ offices and I could see she wasn’t getting any better,” he said.  Then I went to a practice in Orange.  I was practically out of money and they wouldn’t start treating her condition without any kind of money.

“I was like, my dog’s dying here.  I know she is.  and they would say, ‘Yeah, I know she is. This is serious but we’ve got to have some kind of deposit.’

“I was at my wit’s end. I didn’t know what to do.  I made a sign that said I needed help with vet care.  somebody came along and mentioned one or two organizations and I called them.  They didn’t call me back.  One called me back a couple of days later and said they would be willing to help with $200 to $400.  So that was a good start.”

Then he took Kallie to Anaheim Hills Animal Hospital.  The doctors there examined the dog – a small animal who is part miniature Pinscher and part Chihuahua and weighs about six and a half pounds.  “They thought they knew what the problem was [Pyometra],” Tim said, but they were concerned about whether Kallie could be ready to face the needed surgery.

It was late in the day and the veterinarian told Tim that the hospital closed in 20 minutes and suggested that he and Miss Kallie say goodbye to each other.  Fearing the worst, Tim was thinking: “This is my best friend. I can’t let her go like this. She’s my partner in life. There’s got to be something they can do.  Please, let’s not give up!”

The doctor told him: “We’ll give it 24 hours and, if she recovers, we’ll go ahead with the surgery.  But we can’t promise anything.”  The dog was put on an IV about 11 p.m.

The next morning, Tim got a call from the hospital.  The message was positive and he was ecstatic. “She was doing really good and they said they expected to do the surgery sometime that day, if not the next day.  And they said she would likely make it! They said they would check her throughout the day and when they thought she was ready, they would go ahead with the surgery.”

The surgery was performed about 3 p.m. that day.  “They spayed her and cleaned out all the bad stuff, stitched her up and did a beautiful job. I couldn’t have asked for more.”

The hospital steered him to Angel Fund, which approved his application and granted him $500, an amount matched by the practice.

Kallie, he said, weighed barely six pounds when she had the surgery and weighs about have a pound more now.  Tim said that she was ready to play the day he brought her home from the hospital.

“She’s definitely a very special dog,” he said.  “There’s something about her.  I lost my Pitbull in April last year.  If she had left this year, that would have been both of my best friends gone.  Basically, Kallie’s the only family I’ve got left.  I’ve got some cousins but don’t really talk to them too much.”

He is estranged from his sister and has not spoken to his mother in more than two years.

“You guys [Angel Fund] are angels.  You really, truly are.  You are awesome.”

When it was time to pay his bill at Anaheim Hills Hospital, Tim said, “I took all the money I could put together.  But they said, you just need to sign.  It’s all taken care of.  Talk about the Lord blessing me!”

He said that he once had a good job and owned a house, then fell on hard times and had not worked for several years. He recently started a job as a security officer at a shopping center in Orange – and what he hopes will be a fresh start in life with a healthy and happy best friend.

Angel Fund Supplies Clarity for Dog With Terminal Cancer

Saturday, May 9th, 2020

In the fall of 2017, a young Laguna Niguel family had a sick dog on its hands.  Rikku, a shepard mix, had been in the family for some 13 years and was loved by mom and dad and two young children.

“She had been sick for a few months,” Lindsay, the mother, said in an interview.  (She asked that her last name not be used.)  “We were unsure of the cause.  At first we thought it might be behavioral. But then . . . she started having potty accidents in the house, which was so unusual for her.

“We took her to the vet [Dr. Rachel Tuz at Aliso Niguel Animal Hospital].  After a few visits and really no conclusive idea what the diagnosis was, we shrugged our shoulders and decided, ‘Well, she’s 13 years old and pushing 14, should we even pursue this any further?’

“The doctor had suggested a couple of other tests,” Lindsay said. “At that point, we had run dry on money.”  But Dr. Tuz called and said that Angel Fund might be able to help.  Lindsay successfully submitted an application with the hospital’s help. “They did the tests and found that she had a massive tumor in her bladder.  And it was basically inoperable.  There was nothing we could do about it.

“”We didn’t know what to do next, other than wait it out,” Lindsay said. “The next few months the dog got worse quickly and was losing weight, two pounds or more a month.  And we finally reached the point where Dr. Tuz said that this wasn’t fair to Rikku. She was not able to be in the house because she was having so many accidents.  So we had to choose to put her down.  That was in November.”

The experience was wrenching for all the family.  “My husband, Ryan, and I had owned her since we were kids,” Lindsay said.  “It was very hard.  “My son, Finnegan, was very sad.  He still is.  He still talks about her.”  He is five years old.  She and her husband also have a two-year-old daughter, Molly, is two.

The family got a new dog – a puppy – in January.  “We were going to wait but Finnegan kept saying he missed not having a dog,” Lindsay said.  “It’s different, though.  The new dog doesn’t replace the dog you had.  They’re just totally different personalities.”

Angel Fund was “fantastic,” Lindsay said, and she wrote a thank you letter to the fund after receiving the grant.  “They helped us in a serious time of need.  It’s hard when your pet is sick and you feel like you can’t do anything else about it.”

Lindsay had opted to be a stay-at-home mom after her first child was born.  And she and Ryan felt financially overburdened, she said, with a mortgage, two young children and hefty student loans for two college educations.

Brazilian Couple Gets Surgery for Dog With Angel Fund’s Help

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

Four years ago, Edgard Carnoso Principe and his long-time girlfriend Francine came to America from Brazil with their Boston Terrier, Chloe, to study English.  They hope eventually to become permanent residents.

They live in Newport Beach and Edgard works as a shaper of surfboards. Francine works as a nanny.   They have gotten by on part-time work and limited income.  But last November their resources were tested.

Chloe, who is 10 years old, was having some discomfort, so they took her to Mesa West Pet Hospital not far from their home.  After checking the dog, Edgard said, “the doctor [Lethicia Lepera] said that she found tumors and she needed to test to see if they were real [cancerous].  They were real and she said they needed to be removed as soon as possible.”

The couple faced the possibility of losing their beloved companion because they did not have money for the surgery.  Francine had just lost a job and Edgard was working part time.  Dr. Lepara suggested applying for an Angel Fund grant.

“We applied and we got it,” Edgard said.  “The doctor took off three [mast cell] tumors, one on her belly and two on her legs.”  The Angel Fund grant was for $500, a sum matched by the hospital.

“We took Chloe home after the surgery and she was walking like normal and eating the next day.   It took her two or three weeks to get completely back to normal.”

The dog has not had any additional tumors since then and is “happy and healthy,” Edgard said.  “She’s fine right now.  She is super good.   But she does have something on her neck that we’re going to get checked.  She had a growth that a doctor in Brazil took off a few years ago but she hadn’t had any more until we took her in last November.  She is super healthy, happy and a normal dog.

“If Angel Fund hadn’t helped us, we couldn’t have done the surgery. I don’t make a lot of money and Francine doesn’t work all the time.  We tried to talk to some friends [about helping] but it was a lot of money.”

The couple is grateful to Angel Fund.  “If we didn’t get the money, we couldn’t have gotten the surgery,” Edgard said.  “Without Angel Fund we would probably have had to put Chloe down for sure.  It helped us a lot.”

 

 

 

 

Angel Fund Grant Helps Dog Deal With Congenital Problem

Friday, March 20th, 2020

Tyler Davis and Spritzer, his 13-year-old Toy Fox Terrier, had been through a lot together.  “He was just as spry as he could be,” Tyler said.  But then the seven-pound dog started having problems.

Tyler took him to Fairview Pet Hospital in Costa Mesa.  Dr. Hongwon Kang told him that he believed Spritzer had a congenital condition that is common in the breed.  He said that he needed an x-ray to confirm the diagnosis.

But Tyler, who recently had been homeless, did not have the money to pay the bill.  The doctor suggested that Angel Fund could help.  Tyler applied but it was about three weeks before he received the grant.  In the meantime, Spritzer’s condition worsened.

Tyler did research online and knew what medications were recommended for treatment.  The condition includes a collapsed trachea and an enlarged heart.  “It makes it increasingly hard for the dog to breath,” Tyler said. But Dr. Kang did not want to prescribe the drugs, he said, until he could take x-rays to confirm the condition.

When Tyler was informed that his grant had been approved, he was ecstatic.  He took Spritzer to the hospital and x-rays were taken.  Tyler obtained the medications and began giving them to his dog.

“Angel Fund was a life-saver but the x-rays showed that Spritzer’s enlarged heart was really big and was already pushing his trachea,” Tyler said.  “He would stand up and then he would fall over because he would black out.  Two weeks earlier, he was chasing squirrels.  He went from that to falling over.  It killed me.”e H

It had become increasingly clear that Spritzer was nearing the end of his life.  “I watched for a couple of weeks and I just couldn’t take it. Finally, my two sons came over and got me and Spritzer and took us to the vet.  Spritzer was staring into my eyes and I was bawling, man!”

It was about a month after the dog had begun taking the medications that he was put down.

Tyler had a good job as a successful real estate agent but he plunged into homelessness after a real estate deal went sour during the Great Recession of 2007-08 that was caused by subprime mortgages and a housing bubble.  He had two young sons, now both financially successful at ages 24 and 22.  The family was helped by the Illumination Foundation, an Orange County nonprofit that provides aid to those without shelter.   And they lived for a time in a “big storage unit” that Tyler made into a temporary home.

“The homeless thing is like a black hole, Tyler said.  “You’re almost climbing out and then the thread breaks and you go all the way back down to the bottom.  I had a resume as long as my arm but nobody would hire me.  I raised my two boys by myself.”

Tyler lived in his car for a time and later was able to buy a recreational vehicle, that is still his home.  He also went back to school and earned a graphic arts degree.  He believes that triggered his recovery from homelessness. While in school, he did a graphic picture of Spritzer on his computer.

In 2009, he started repairing auto windshields.  The small business “was just keeping me alive for a while” but now is doing well.  “It’s been pretty good these last six months,” he said. “I get a lot of calls for window replacement, which I don’t do, but I’m thinking about expanding my business to include that.  I could go do a workshop or hire somebody who knows how to do it.”

Tyler said that he didn’t want to get another dog after Spritzer died.  “But now we’ve got Peanut, a small white Chihuahua.  “He’s a menace, 24/7. He’s about the same size and almost looks like Spritzer.”

He also is setting up a nonprofit he is calling Life Rebuilders to help the homeless by giving them shoes.

Disabled Woman Turns to Angel Fund for Help With Dog’s Heart Problem

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

In 2004, Galina Coleman slipped and fell at work not far from where she lived in Petaluma.  She had five surgeries for the injuries she suffered.  In the wake of that personal catastrophy and disillusioned with her marriage, she got a divorced and moved to Southern California.

Today, estranged from her former husband and two sons, she lives in Aliso Viejo and struggles to pay her bills. She was declared totally disabled in 2006 and lives on a Social Security disability check.

“I’m just really struggling,” she said.  “I’m in affordable housing.  My rent is $1,398 a month, which is ‘very affordable’ here. However, for me it’s just really, really difficult.  I’ve tried to get jobs but it just hasn’t worked out for me.  I have two senior dogs and a senior cat and I know they’re basically at the end of their lives.”

Late last November, her struggles came into clear perspective when Abby, her nearly 14-year-old Dachshund, appeared to be having a digestive issue.  “When I took her to a veterinarian, the doctor discovered a heart murmur. She thought it was pretty serious and prescribed medication for Abby after doing an x-ray,” Galina said.

Later, she took the dog to Dr. Lynn Sanchez, a veterinarian she said she likes and trusts at Garden Grove Dog and Cat Hospital.  Dr. Sanchez recommended an electrocardiogram to get a clearer idea what Abby’s problem was.  But Galina could not handle the cost.  She applied for an Angel Fund grant and was awarded $451, a sum that was matched by the hospital.

Abby got the electrocardiogram in late December – and with it some good news: the murmur was not as bad as originally suspected.  “Dr. Sanchez said that everything looked pretty good and prescribed three medications,” Galina said.  A week later, when she took Abby back for a recheck, two of the medications were discontinued.  “One of them was really hard on her kidneys,” she said, “so I was really glad to get rid of it.”

After another recheck early in January, the dog is continuing to take Vetmedin.  “She’s not in heart failure but has some damage to a mitral valve,” Galina said.

When Galina divorced, she took her animals with her.  “I have tried to help them on a piecemeal basis,” she said. “I’ve had to rely on charity.  They’ve all been in pretty good health but now they are at the point where that’s starting to change [because of their ages].”

Augie, Abby’s brother, is two years younger at 12.  Aurora, her cat, also is 12.  Galina believes that Augie will need a dental treatment soon.

“I’ve been given the blessing of having these animals – they are just truly a blessing for me.  I am their steward and I need to make sure they get whatever is needed to take care of them. I have to do that.

“Had I not been able to do this [echocardiogram], I would either have been giving Abby way too much medication or no medication at all.  It wouldn’t have been good either way.  it was going to be detrimental to her health one way or the other.”

Galina is grateful to Angel Fund.  “They really helped me out,” she said.  “It is a wonderful thing to help people because things can be so expensive.  I think it’s a really great thing for veterinarians to give back.  I admire them for doing that.  I think that’s what we’re all here for – to give back.”

She is thinking about moving with her animals to a place – perhaps New Mexico – where her disability check would go further.  She is 58 years old.

“I have ignored a lot of my life for these dogs.  But, in return, they’ve provided me with something,” she said.  That something is love and support.

Cody Returns with Help from Angel Fund

Friday, March 6th, 2020

Late one Monday afternoon in December, 2016, Scott Rosenthal and his wife Christina, patted their dog Cody and left their Lancaster home for a Bible study class at their church in Woodland Hills.

When they returned later that evening, Cody “came walking up to me,” Scott said, “but she couldn’t put any weight on her right front foot.  It was just flopping around and I was like, ‘Oh oh!’”

Cody loved to chase rabbits but it didn’t look like she had gotten out of the Rosenthal’s 1.6-acre yard.  Scott thought she may have stepped in a gopher hole.  The dog is a beautiful Labrador mix and she was in a lot of pain.   “She laid down and I couldn’t get her up,” Scott said.  “She’s not that big, about 50 pounds.  I had to get a blanket and roll her onto it to move her.”

Scott called Dr. Wendy Brooks, who owns Mar Vista Animal Medical Center.  She is an old family friend and Scott has always taken his animals to her – even though it is more than an hour’s drive away.  Because of his work schedule, he was unable to take Cody to the hospital the next day.  “Once I got her there, they made her comfortable and they [examined her] and decided what they needed to do,” he said.

Dr. Brooks determined that Cody needed a titanium bone plate for her fractured radius.  Scott, who works as a mechanic on the vehicle fleet at Oaks Christian Camp and Conference Center, “was a little low on cash” at the time, he said, and he was fearful that he might have to put Cody down.

But he called Care Credit and obtained a loan.  And the staff at the hospital suggested applying to Angel Fund.  He did and was granted $500, a sum matched by the hospital, which also provided $350 from client donations.

The surgery cost $1,800 but the hospital boarded Cody for about three months.  Scott’s total cost, he said, was $440. “There was care at the hospital and some of that was donated,” he said. “And I worked on one of their vehicles and that was bartered.”

And, he said, his neighbors, Don and Paul Eaton – Don was a special friend of Cody – gave him $350 to help pay the dog’s medical bills.  “He put the money in my hand and he said, ‘We’ll put it toward that.’  And I was like, ‘You’re kidding me!’ He’s a brother in Christ and he realized there was a need,” Scott said.   “It all worked out.  It was an amazing blessing.”  He and Christina are grateful to Angel Fund, the hospital and the Eaton brothers.  “There’s God all over this thing,” Scott said.

Today, Cody is doing well at 11 years of age.  For the first six months after her surgery, Dr. Brooks was concerned “because the operation didn’t quite take,” Scott said, and because of the possibility of infection.  But those concerns now are long gone.

“Cody has settled down a little bit and is not so active as she once was,” he said.  “The leg isn’t as strong as it was but she uses it just fine.  She wants to jump around like a puppy so we have to keep an eye on her.”

Angel Fund Helps Give Owner Options for Bulldog With Cancer

Sunday, January 19th, 2020

In late October Laura Pierson’s bulldog, Baby, had a puffy ear.  So she took the dog to see her veterinarian, Dr. Wendy Brooks at Mar Vista Animal Medical Clinic.  “I thought the ear might be infected but it was just a blood clot from shaking her head,” Laura said.  “However, the doctor noticed a tumor on her abdomen.”

Laura, whose primary income is a Social Security disability check, did not have the resources to pay for surgery to remove the tumor.  Dr. Brooks told her about Angel Fund.   She applied and received a grant of $314.50, which was matched by the hospital and the surgery was scheduled.

When the procedure was performed, Dr. Brooks removed the growth she had originally found and a second tumor.   A biopsy revealed that the masses were cancerous. The disease had spread to Baby’s lymph glands.  The doctor told Laura that Baby was not likely to live much longer than six months but that chemotherapy could extend her life to a year.

That was not something Laura thought she could do.  “I opted not to do chemotherapy.  I couldn’t afford it and I don’t want to inject her with any chemicals.  But I definitely am going to keep on top of the progression [of the disease].

“I am in the process of changing her diet,” Laura said, and is hopeful that will help Baby live longer.  She has spent considerable time researching recommended diets for dogs with cancer.

“It’s uncharted territory for me,” she said.  Dr. Brooks, who has been Baby’s veterinarian all her 12 years, “is very respectful of what I feel like I can do and what I can afford to do.  She is my go-to expert.”

Laura’s reading indicated that she should not feed Baby raw foods and that cooked meat and vegetables with some supplements could be beneficial. “I’ve been trying to get her closer to higher protein, higher fat and less carbs in her diet with none of the additives like corn and rice.

“If nothing else, I’ll be adding to the quality of her life,” she said.  “She’s my girl.  She’s my child. And she’s doing really well, actually.  She’s such a youthful dog.  You’d never know that she’s 12 years old.”

Laura, who lives alone in a Venice apartment, adopted Baby as a puppy.  About the same time, she adopted Whiskers, a Schnauzer mix.  “I’ve raised them like a family,” she said. Whiskers, also female, is a happy dog who is makings Baby’s life better, Laura believes.

Laura was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2007, shortly before she adopted her two companions.  “They are my emotional support,” she said.  In recent years, she has worked part time as a personal assistant and a curator for a photographer.  She was working on a Ph.D. when she was diagnosed.

She finds living in Los Angeles challenging and has decided that she will return to Parkersburg, W. Va., to be near her family.  Her father suffers from Parkinson’s disease.  She plans to make the trip in her car with Baby and Whiskers.

Laura is grateful to Angel Fund – and to Dr. Brooks – for making Baby’s surgery possible. After the surgery, a member of the hospital staff “told me that Baby woke up from anesthesia wagging her tail, wiggling her bottom,” she said.

“I thought that was a wonderful thank you to the doctor.  I got really excited when I heard that.”

 

 

Angel Fund Helps Trojan

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

One day last October, Yolanda Magallanes, took Trojan, her four-year-old pit bull mix, to get some exercise in the park across the street from her Fountain Valley home as she frequently does.  All went well until it was time to go home.

“He didn’t want to walk,” Yolanda said. “He didn’t want to go anywhere.” And when they entered her house, he defecated on the floor. “That was not normal for him. I figured he had a little tummy ache.”

When she went to bed that evening, Trojan did not come in to sleep with her. “He has done that since day one. He just wanted to lie on the tile floor.” He was lying in the same spot when she got up in the morning.

Before leaving for work, Yolanda called her sister, Irene Caudillo, and asked her to come get Trojan and take him to see her veterinarian, Dr. Mark Malo at Garden Grove Dog and Cat Hospital.  She met her sister there.  Dr. Malo did not have good news: He said that the dog was in bad shape and might be dying, she said.  He wanted to take x-rays and install an IV.

When Yolanda returned a couple of hours later, Dr. Malo said that the x-rays showed a large mass and that Trojan needed surgery.  He asked her to take the dog to a specialty hospital.

After what she described as a “royal” welcome for Trojan, the specialty hospital did an MRI and “put me in a room and said the doctor would be in soon to talk to me.”   When the doctor entered, Yolanda said, she was told that her dog had a large mass and needed surgery immediately.  There was a 65% chance that the mass was cancerous, the doctor said.

The doctor told her: “Your choice is either emergency surgery now or put him down.  If you’re keeping him alive, it’ll cost you $6,000 to $8.000 for the surgery.   And with the cancer treatments [that follow], you’ll continue to pay.”

Yolanda asked: “Where am I going to get that kind of money?  I don’t make that kind of money.  I don’t have that kind of money.  The doctor said, you might want to consider putting him down.  And I said, putting him down is not an option.”

She asked for a few minutes with family members, who were at the hospital “to figure this out.”  But the doctor told her, she said, that “we need a decision within the next few minutes.”  She felt pressured.

Yolanda began to sign the paperwork that would permit the hospital to euthanize her pet.  “But I just couldn’t go through with it,” she said.  Irene offered to lend her $4,000, the sum the hospital wanted before the surgery would be performed. After the credit card transaction, Trojan was taken into surgery.

Following the operation, Yolanda was told that the mass was not malignant and that her dog had suffered a ruptured spleen. Today, Trojan is a happy, healthy dog and Yolanda is “almost done paying the money, little by little, that I borrowed from my sister and from my bank.”

When she asked the specialty hospital about finding help for the surgery bill, they mentioned Angel Fund.  Yolanda called the fund and was impressed with how she was received.  “Angel Fund was very good to me,” she said.  “There was no waiting period and the lady I talked to was very nice and very polite.  She was great.”  She was granted $500.  After a call from Dr. Malo, she said, the specialty hospital reduced her bill by 10 percent, more than $800.  She also received a grant from another charitable group.

Yolanda did not see her relationship with the specialty hospital as one of trust.  “I didn’t feel that they were communicating with me,” she said.  The day after she took Trojan home, she took him back to see Dr. Malo.

She is a single mother who has raised two sons, 19-year-old Edward and Michael, 18, without help from their father.  Both still live at home.  She works for Advance America, a short-term loan company.

Angel Fund Provides Grant to Help Terrier Ralph Get Surgery on Hip

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

In October, 2018, Marta Kepes was out with her three dogs.  Ralph, a 14-year-old terrier mix, was coupled with one of the other dogs on a leash.   “Nothing unusual was happening and suddenly he let out a sharp yelp,” she said.  “His left rear leg was all twisted and he was in agony.  I’ve never seen any of my animals like that before.”

It was in the evening and she took Ralph immediately to Center Sinai Animal Hospital in West Los Angeles.  The doctor told her that Ralph’s hip had come out of its socket.  The doctor said the hip could be put back in the socket but it appeared that the ligaments were torn and that might necessitate surgery.  A surgeon, who could do the operation, was coming the next morning, the doctor said.

Marta, who lives on a monthly SSI disability check, told the doctor about her financial situation.  “It is pretty grim,” she said in the interview. “I had three elderly dogs.  Ralph was the youngest.  So this was like, oh my god!  The prices of everything have skyrocketed in the last decade.  But I said, ‘Yes, of course,’ to the surgery.“

She said that Center Sinai had permitted her to carry a balance on bills for her animals, between $100 and $200, on which she made monthly payments, with the understanding that she would have to pay off the debt before incurring new expenses.  “I made it very clear that I would have to continue the same system with them to pay for the surgery,” she said. “The person who checked me out said that would be no problem.”

She brought Ralph back the next morning and met the surgeon, who told her she was very glad that she had brought Ralph in.  Marta picked up the dog later in the day.

She got a call after a day or two from the hospital and was asked how she planned to pay for the surgery.  She answered, she said: “I don’t have any other way to pay than the way I’ve been doing it.”

When she brought Ralph back for a checkup, the surgeon was there and berated Marta, she said, telling her that she would not have done the surgery if she had known that Marta could not pay for it on the day of the procedure.

But the person who manages accounts at the hospital told her not to worry about what had happened and asked if she would be willing to apply for a grant.  “‘Of course,” Marta replied.  Soon she was approved for a $1,000 grant from Angel Fund. The grant was matched by Center Sinai.

Marta was grateful for the help.  But about two months after the surgery.  Ralph started going downhill.  “I don’t think it was because of his leg,” Marta said.  But it was clear that he was near the end of his life, she said. She did not take him to a veterinarian because of the bills she owed.  She found a euthanasia service that would come to her home and put the animal down if she made a down payment.

Recently, she called the euthanasia service to come again to put down one of her other dogs.  Today, her household includes two cats and one dog, Stella, a dachshund who is partly blind.

“All of this is really tense for me,” she said through tears.  “Stella is really lonely now.”

When “things get calmer,” Marta said, she will “maybe proctor an older dog from a rescue group that would pay the medical bills.  That I can do.”

Marta said that she had lived on her own all her adult life.  She is 67 and once held a job.  But she has had back issues, including surgery, and has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.  A few years ago, she lived in her car with her three dogs and three cats for about three years.

After she receives her SSI check each month, she goes to the store to buy supplies for herself and her animals and she sometimes will put some gasoline in her van – “a gas guzzler,” she said.  She does not drive often because of the high cost of gasoline.

 

Angel Fund Helps Save Life of Feral Cat Trapped in Attic

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

Sandra Schuelke is a person who cares about animals and the place where she lives.

She and her sister Sherry spearheaded an effort a few years ago to capture and neuter a growing population of feral cats in the gated, single-family condo development where they live in El Monte.

The project did not have the full support of everyone in the homeowners association.

“It took some time to get some of the neighbors on board,” Sandra said.  “They didn’t understand the program at first.  They thought that trapping them and removing them was the answer.  But research shows that you need a stable control group and every time you remove animals there is a vacuum effect and more will come in from the outside.  The stable colony keeps outsiders out.”

Since the effort began, she said, “we have trapped, neutered and released 45 adult cats.  We have been doing this for five years.  We have rescued 47 kittens and all of them have been put up for adoption through three different rescue operations.  I walk through the complex every day and keep an eye on ‘em and make sure there are no new ones.  That’s my daily volunteer work.  All the cats have been fixed.

“We’ve gone through two kitten seasons with no new litters and we’re coming up on our third.”

The colony does not cause any problems in the housing complex and is not especially visible, she said.   “The cats all have their places.  We have 142 homes in our complex so it’s about one cat for every three houses.”

A bit more than a year ago, however, that tranquility was broken.   One of the feral cats was missing and a neighbor reported that she was hearing the animal’s cries constantly from somewhere behind her house near the home of another community member.

“We searched high and low, in bushes, in peoples’ attics and garages, underneath patios – everywhere,” Sandra said.  “We didn’t find her but we kept hearing her voice from different places.”  The James family was particularly helpful in the search, she said.

“At one point I called the fire department because we thought the cat was in one of the homes.  The people in the house got really upset and wouldn’t let the firemen come into their house.”

A few weeks later, an electrician went into the attic of the house.

“He told the community handyman later that he had seen a cat there.  So I went back to the house and begged them to let me put a trap in the attic.  They let me do it.  But there was no need for a trap.  I was able to grab her.  We immediately took her to Community Companion Animal Hospital in Temple City.  She was severely dehydrated and weighed just 2.9 pounds. Her body temperature was 91 degrees. She was probably just hours from death.”

The cat – The James Family named her Delilah – had been trapped in the attic for about five weeks without food or water.  Sandra believes Delilah may have been frightened by painters and went down a ventilation pipe from the roof and fell into the attic.

The hospital immediately put Delilah on IV fluids and antibiotics and started feeding her with a syringe. She was in the hospital two weeks before she was released.

Sandra expressed her appreciation for the efforts of Dr. Joseph Pavlik, Dr. Joni Nasser, Dr. Neil Bodie and the hospital staff: “They were compassionate and they never gave up on her.  All the help from the hospital and Angel Fund was just wonderful.  I couldn’t have done it without everybody coming together.” Angel Fund contributed $250 to Delilah’s care and so did the hospital.  Sandra paid the remainder of the bill.

Today Delilah has not forgotten her feral roots.  The cat lives in an enclosure in Sandra’s bedroom.  “You usually would see it outdoors, not inside.  But it has two levels.  When I go in for cleaning, she goes into her little hideaway.  She can go there when she doesn’t want to be bothered.  When she wasn’t feeling well, I could pet her but not so much now.”

Sandra has two other cats but they do not have physical contact with Delilah.  “They are face to face with her, through the wire so they are getting familiar with one another.  I’d love it if she were friendly.  But she is who she is and I’m happy that she’s alive.

“I’m sure she is still traumatized from being stuck in that attic for so long and being in the hospital,” Sandra said.  She is hopeful that over time Delilah will become more friendly with her and her other cats and be fully integrated into the household.

Sandra – who works in health care administration in Pasadena – lives with her daughter, Rachel, who will be going to college in the fall, and her mother, Linda.