There’s nothing more rewarding than rescuing cats and dogs from being euthanized, and fostering them until they’re placed in loving homes.
At least, that’s what we thought until recently.
For the first time, A Life to Live has taken things a step further by not only saving the life of a cat but also reuniting it with the original owners.
It was a long and winding road to the tearful reunion.
Alyx the cat slipped away from home in January and ended up at City of Baytown Animal Services tagged for euthanasia.
Jennifer Fergerson and her five children, who raised the 3-year-old indoor cat since she was a kitten, had given up hope of finding the cat with a distinctive short, crooked tail.
“We called some local shelters to see if she was there. We looked online because a lot of organizations will post pictures. We even checked with some Houston agencies, but no luck anywhere,” Jennifer said.
“We didn’t know where she was. And since we have a canal behind our house, we pretty much figured she was gone.”
What the Fergersons didn’t realize was that Alyx had been picked up as a stray by Baytown Animal Services on Jan. 25, the same day she went missing. There she stayed until Feb. 17.
That’s when A Life to Live stepped in.
“She had been there so long without being adopted, they were about to euthanize her. So we rescued her,” said Jay Garrett, founder and executive director.
Now called Sandy, Alyx was placed in a foster home to await adoption.
We completely vaccinated and microchipped the cat, checked for spay, tested for feline leukemia and AIDS, and provided regular heart worm and flea preventative.
Alyx’s photo and description were added to our adoptables page.
In the meantime, the Fergersons, who recently moved from Baytown to Crosby, decided they were going to adopt another kitten after this school year.
While looking at Baytown Animal Services’ Facebook page, they noticed a photo of “Female Calico #37957.” It was Alyx.
The Fergersons quickly contacted the shelter and learned that we had taken in Alyx.
“When we saw her photo on A Life to Live’s website, we thought she had already been adopted,” Jennifer said. “I told the kids that while she’s not with us, at least she’s probably healthy and in a good home with somebody else who loves her.”
However, Jennifer discovered that Alyx still was available for adoption. That’s when she put on a full-court press to prove that Sandy was indeed their Alyx.
Jennifer shared family photos. She confirmed that Alyx’s front paws were declawed and that the cat had been spayed. She also mentioned its funky-looking tail.
That was all the evidence we needed to begin making plans for the reunion April 28 at PetSmart in Baytown.
Jennifer and her oldest daughter, Anna, tried to keep the news that Alyx was coming home a secret from the rest of the family.
“While my mom went to see Alyx, I stalled the others by taking them to these different stores and saying I needed to buy stuff for my apartment,” said Anna, 19, a student at Sam Houston State University.
After Jennifer tearfully confirmed the cat was their Alyx, she called Anna to let her know it was OK to bring her sister and brothers into PetSmart.
The kids were all smiles, taking turns petting and holding the cat they lovingly call Chicken Strip.
Alyx is closest to Avery, 18, a student at Goose Creek Memorial High School. He got the cat when she was about 4 weeks old.
“It’s kind of crazy,” Avery said. “I never thought this would happen. I didn’t think we’d see her again.”
The experience is a great example of what A Life to Live is all about.
“This is why we do what we do. We want to interact with the community. We want to save lives, especially in this type of scenario,” Jay said.
“This was somebody’s beloved pet. They owned her for three years, and it just so happened that once in all that time she escaped outside. I’m so glad we were there to save her.”
The timing couldn’t have been better emotionally for the Fergersons. They were still coping with the loss of their 8-year-old Miniature Schnauzer to cancer the day after Easter.
“We had given up hope of ever being reunited with Alyx,” Jennifer said. “The way it all turned out, with us just happening to come across her picture and the role that A Life to Live played in all of this, I guess it was fate. It was just meant to be.”
The Fergersons are sold on A Life to Live’s mission. Jennifer said she and her children would like to volunteer.
“It’s a wonderful thing they are doing,” she said. “Baytown and other communities need more people like them.”
Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator with A Life to Live.