August 8th, 2011
Submitted by RedRover Responders volunteer Marcia Goodman of Cromwell, Connecticut
On August 3, Tonia Vitko and her young children, Solano and Levi, walked into the temporary pet evacuation shelter in Minot, North Dakota, to visit their cat, Linus. They had brought Linus to the shelter when their home was flooded and made uninhabitable. Their other cat, Lucy, who is Linus’ sister, had run away during the flood. Solano Vitko was particularly close to Lucy and she was devastated by the loss.
|Clockwise from left: Solana Vitko holding
Lucy, Tonia Vitko holding Levi,McLean
Kolobakken, Dylan Kolobakken
holding Linus, and Alonna Kolobakken.
Joining the Vitko family at the emergency shelter that day were McLean Kolobakken and his young children, Alonna and Dylan. The Viktos moved in with the Kolobakken family during the flood.
RedRover Responders volunteers Janet McAuliffe, Jodi Jenkins and Karen Darmstead were doing their daily morning cleaning of the cat room (called “Kitty Kastle”) when the Vitko and Kolobakken families arrived to visit Linus. Janet, Jodi, and Karen witnessed the happy reunion.
Then Solano began to look around at the other cats in the vicinity and suddenly started jumping up and down, calling out “It’s Lucy! It’s Lucy!” Her mother’s first reaction was that it couldn’t be, but then she turned and saw that, sure enough, it was Lucy. Not only that, but Lucy’s cage was right across the aisle from Linus. Although there had been as many as 300 cats at the shelter, this brother and sister had been looking at each other all this time! It turns out that someone had found Lucy and had taken her to the shelter as a stray cat.
This is a happy ending — but wait! There’s more to this story of “Coincidence or Providence.” The Vitko family also had a dog, Teddy, who they took to the shelter when their home flooded. A few days before the Vitkos were reunited with Lucy, they told shelter manager, Susan Wagers, that they wouldn’t be able to keep Teddy.
|Patty Luetzen, left, watching the Vitko
family say goodbye to Teddy as the
Kolobakken family looks on.
Enter Patty Leutzen, who had seen Susan’s plea for temporary foster homes for animals whose families would still be without homes when the emergency shelter closes at the end of August. One of Patty’s two dogs had recently died, and she wanted to help the victims of the flood because her home had been spared.
Susan, who is the Executive Director of Souris Valley Animal Shelter, recognized Patty, who had adopted dogs before. Patty told us that Susan said, “Have I got the dog for you!” After a successful interaction between her dog and Teddy, Patty arranged to adopt Teddy.
On August 3, at the same time the Vitko family was reuniting with Lucy, Patty arrived at the emergency shelter to pick up Teddy. What a surprise when Patty spotted the Vitko family accompanied by McLean Kolobakken and his children. Patty and McLean work together. It’s a double happy ending for Teddy because the Vitko and Kolobakken families will be able to visit with him.
So now, you answer the question . . . was the two-fold happy ending to this story coincidence or providence?