By Savannah Verdon, RedRover Development and Engagement Coordinator
Three years ago, Amy* left a violent relationship behind after her husband turned his abuse on their young daughter. Throughout their divorce, he refused to pay any child support or alimony, and even attempted to kidnap their daughter to force Amy into signing a 50/50 custody agreement. Amy had been a stay-at-home mom, so she had few resources of her own, but she fought tooth and nail to win sole legal custody and 80% physical custody of their daughter to protect her from her abusive father. The legal battle cost her several hundred thousand dollars in fees, but they were finally safe.
The divorce had been hard on her daughter. At four years old, she was experiencing potty training regression and behavior problems. She would ask Amy why she was being sent to her father’s house. Was it to punish her? She was afraid of her father – he was often neglectful and verbally abusive, and she would cry and cry when he came to pick her up.
Before her daughter was born, Amy had a cat named Scout, who seemed to resent the arrival of a new baby. Scout and the little girl never quite bonded. After Scout passed away, her daughter kept saying she wanted a cat that would be her cat. When they found two kittens, Amy knew it would be the perfect thing to help her daughter after such a hard few years.
“When we found Pirate and Simon, Simon instantly took to me and Pirate instantly took to her. She carries him everywhere. If she isn’t carrying him, he’s following her around. They are inseparable. He’s so patient with her and she loves him with her whole heart.”
To escape the abuse, Amy had moved into her mother’s house, who had given all of her savings to help Amy win the fight for custody of her daughter. Without child support and alimony, Amy had applied for and maxed out more and more credit cards, owing thousands of dollars in debt as she completed her Master’s degree in psychology and pursued her license. A judge had recently awarded her a large settlement, but only if her ex-husband sold their house, which he refused to do. As she returned to court to have him evicted, Amy’s paid internship hours enabled her to just barely pay her debts and buy food for her father and daughter, while her mother paid her utilities and a portion of her rent.
On the morning when she first noticed something was wrong with Pirate, she had just $1,000 available in credit, and nothing in savings.
“He’s very clumsy and plays rough with his brother. I’ve gotten used to lamps being knocked over and the sound of things crashing. The kittens love to chase each other and do ‘parkour’ all over the house. I’ve seen Pirate fall out of his cat tree numerous times. Tuesday night he seemed fine. When I woke up yesterday morning, I opened the blinds in the living room and he always comes running and jumps up on the back of the couch to get his first glimpse of the squirrels outside, but he didn’t do that. Then when I put out his breakfast, he didn’t come running for that either, which is when I became concerned. I had to leave for work but asked my dad and my daughter to observe him closely. When I got home at 3 PM, he didn’t react when I shook the treat bag so I knew something was wrong. He was laying underneath the couch. I got him out and tried to get him to stand up but he wouldn’t put weight on his hindleg. I immediately took him to the vet. After waiting two hours they said they needed to sedate him and take x-rays. Four more hours later they said he fractured his hip/pelvis area and that he needed surgery. They referred us to their sister hospital where we waited until midnight to be seen. Finally around midnight last night, I got to take my cold, tired, hungry daughter home. The vet called at 2 AM saying the surgery and other fees would be in the thousands (in addition to the $1,000 we’d already spent on x-rays and sedation and pain management). I broke down crying as I can’t afford that.”
When the veterinarian said Pirate would need to stay at the hospital that night, Amy’s daughter said she would miss him too much and that she wanted to sleep at the vet office to be close to him. She left her blankie in his carrier and cried the whole way home. The next morning, Amy agonized over whether they would have to say goodbye to Pirate and how she would console her daughter that evening.
Unable to bear the thought, she began to apply for help from different foundations, and on the advice of her veterinarian, she applied for a RedRover Relief Urgent Care grant. Before the end of the day, Amy had found all the help she needed for Pirate to have the surgery first thing the next day. They picked him up from the hospital that afternoon so he could rest at home, and Amy’s daughter wouldn’t leave his side for a moment. They went to bed with smiles on their faces that night knowing Pirate was going to be okay.
After a successful surgery, Pirate is back home with Amy, her daughter, and his brother Simon, bringing back with him the happiness that left when they thought they would lose him.
“Pirate is such a happy boy. He’s been a handful since the day we picked him up post-op. Pirate has zero instinct for survival…and within about 24 hours post-surgery, he was climbing the inside of his enclosure and hanging from the ceiling. No matter what steps we took to keep him calm and safe, he’d find a way around it. Eventually we gave up and let him have the run of the house again. Pirate is back to drinking from the toilet, playing fetch, and wrestling with his brother (I swear he’s part dog). He goes back tomorrow for his final check up, but it’s just a formality – he obviously has great range of motion and is not in any pain. Seeing him snuggled up with my daughter as she watches TV, with his eyes closed and his paw on her arm – it brings me such joy. We are so incredibly grateful for the generous lifesaving gift you gave us. My daughter has her best friend back and I’ve got my faith in humanity back. Thank you so much for saving Pirate!”
We are grateful for your monthly support and the Happy Tails you make possible! Thank you for helping RedRover bring hundreds of animals like Pirate from crisis to care!
*Name has been changed to protect privacy