October 19th, 2015
by Nicole Forsyth, RedRover President and CEO
Imagine not knowing what a kitten’s “purr” or “meow” means. Ernesto, a first-grader who lives in an apartment with his mother and sister in Los Angeles, California, didn’t understand what it meant when cats purred until his first-grade teacher, Susan Courtney, introduced him to the RedRover Readers program.
The RedRover Readers program helped Ernesto to understand cats and inspired him to ask his mom for a kitten —but he insisted it had to be a rescued kitten! Ernesto’s mom did not grow up with pets. She was not sure if they were ready for the responsibility and wasn’t even sure how to go about finding a pet, so she contacted Ernesto’s teacher.
Susan, a dedicated teacher of over 30 years and avid animal rescuer, connected the family with a local cat rescue. She helped Ernesto find his “purrfect” cat, Phoebe, gave Phoebe her vaccinations and even made a spay appointment for Phoebe.
Ernesto told us he liked cats before the program, but he didn’t understand that cats were like family or that you could communicate with them. “I didn’t know what a purr was,” Ernesto told us, “but then, I learned.”
I had the opportunity to visit with Ernesto, Phoebe and the rest of his family at their apartment, and they couldn’t be happier with their new pet.
Ernesto’s favorite things to do with Phoebe include playing with her, feeding and carrying her around the house. Ernesto’s mom thinks Ernesto is more responsible now because of Phoebe. Phoebe, who is a very playful kitten, had the run of the house during my visit. Ernesto said his friends kept telling him he should get a dog, not a cat, but now they all want to come over to see Phoebe. When Phoebe finally took a break from playtime, I asked Ernesto how he felt to hear Phoebe purr. He told me, “happy,” and his smile filled the room.
Do you know an educator who wants to change the lives of children and animals? Tell them to sign up to learn more about RedRover Readers at RedRover.org/ReadersInfo