Thursday, January 14, 2010

Oliver, our new pet...RIP

***Warning...this is going to be a long one...bear with me...***

Noah and I have a nightly ritual of reading the children's book, I Love You Forever. It is a lovely book and one that will hold a special place in his and my heart forever. In this little book, the illustrations portray the progression of a young boy growing into manhood and in each there is a kitten--obviously the boy's childhood pet that basically grows up with him.

During our readings of this little book, Noah began to take notice of the boy's pet kitten and expressed interest in getting a pet cat of his own. And well, I have always loved kittens, so I thought this would be a great Christmas gift for our son- and selfishly, mine too. After much begging and prodding with my dear hubby, he finally conceded and since we were in East Texas for the Christmas holidays, we made a visit to the Humane Society of Northeast Texas (HSNTX) in Longview. What better place to go to find a new pet and support one of the local animal shelters---so we thought??. We were hopeful we would find the perfect kitten/cat that would be a good fit for our family. Upon our arrival to the HSNTX, we were shown several different cats and kittens at our request. Almost immediately, Jody felt drawn to one of their older cats named Holden by the shelter. I had reservations at first because he was an older kitty and a male. I have always had female kittens because I didn't want to deal with the spraying issue. But, after holding Holden and petting him for almost 20minutes, it was obvious that he was the one. He had the sweetest disposition, both gentle and loving...definitely a lap kitty. The younger kittens were a little too rambuctious and we were concerned that Noah (being the typical 3 year old boy that he is) might be a little rough on a baby kitten.

We left the HSNTX with our newly named and adopted kitty Oliver (aka Holden). He slept in my lap the whole way home. We surprised Noah that evening with his new kitty and he was so excited (along with all our other nieces and nephews that were there for the holidays!). It seemed to be a match made in heaven. One of the immediate items to address though with Oliver was that he was atleast a year old and not neutered. The neutering would need to happen immediately as he was already beginning to spray. Ugh!! What a terrible smell that is by the way. Whew-wee!! Since we were traveling back to McAllen in the coming days, we decided to hold off on having him neutered while in East Texas because we didn't want him to have an uncomfortable trip back to McAllen following his surgery. Therefore, we finished our holiday visit in East Texas and then headed home to McAllen. On the drive home, we began to notice that Oliver didn't seem to be feeling well. He quit eating his food and drinking water. Naturally, we just assumed this was due to his new environment and the stress of having to make a 10 hour drive with a screaming 3 year old and two tired and cranky parents!

Upon our arrival home, I immediately made an appointment with our vet to have Oliver neutered and for an overall well visit. On the day of his scheduled surgery, I took him in myself while Noah was at his pre-school. Immediately when the vet examined Oliver, he expressed concern about his health. He asked me if the HSNTX had screened Oliver for any major diseases. I told him I honestly didn't know- I guess I just assumed they had done so. I knew that he had received a Rabies vaccination, but that was all I really knew. The vet had his secretary call the HSNTX to find out what screenings had been done. The worker at HSNTX, in a rather rude tone I might add, informed our vet that they had done no screenings on Oliver and that he was lucky to have even received the Rabies vaccination. They further explained to our vet that they do not screen any of their animals for major diseases when they take them in. Our vet, as I, was completely shocked by this. He has never heard of this practice by a local Humane Society and it told me it was shameful that they did not provide this type of service for the protection of all the animals in the shelter. Needless to say, he ran further tests on Oliver while I waited with him. I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that something was terribly wrong.

The results of his lab tests were both shocking and devastating...our new kitty tested positive for feline FIV--read more about this disease here. I immediately began to panic...I knew nothing about this disease in pets and had immediate concerns about the exposure to my family. The vet calmly explained that it is strictly a feline disease and could not have been transmitted to Noah, me or Jody. Because Oliver was already showing signs of dehydration, an eye infection and no desire to eat--the vet recommended he be euthenized because he said that the disease was obviously impacting his immune system at this point and that he would not live long.

I called Jody immediately to discuss it and we decided it would be best to not let him suffer any longer, so we agreed to let them put him to sleep.

After a long and very sad, emotionally draining morning, I came home and just cried until I had a headache. We had Oliver cremated and yesterday I went to pick up his ashes (pic above). What started out as a gift to our son had now turned into a painful and expensive pet venture.

Words cannot fully express how disappointed and disturbed we are by the lack of professionalism and care shown by HSNTX for their animals by not doing these simple screening for diseases. The expense and emotional loss of this experience could have been avoided if the HSNTX would have screened Oliver when they initially took him in. Not to mention, there is no way to know how many other animals Oliver may have exposed to this feline FIV while at the shelter --who have now been adopted by other families in East Texas. Jody wrote a nice little letter to HSNTX explaining our great disappointment and requesting that we be reimbursed for all our expenses but the very least the $100 adoption fee we paid. We faxed this letter on December 29th and have still not been contacted by them or received our reimbursement.

The irony in this situation is that I so badly wanted to get a ragdoll kitten from a breeder in College Station, but the hubby thought it was too expensive (start at $400) to pay for a kitten --and well, I would have to agree yet, we ended up paying that much in the end for Oliver and now he is gone, we have no pet and we are out a little over $500 in expenses overall.

Final thoughts...We told Noah that Oliver went to live with Jesus and explained how he now feels much better. While we didn't have Oliver long (only a week), we loved him and will really miss him. Maybe someday soon we can try another kitty adoption that will be a success and bring many smiles and blessings to our family.

P.S. If you live in East Texas and are thinking about adopting a pet, I would be very cautious if you are considering using the HSNTX.

P.P.S. Sadly, we didn't have Oliver long enough to have many pics of him. The only pics I have are on my cell phone and I don't know how to download them.


  1. sad sad saad!! so sorry to hear this! that is unbelievable that they wouldnt screen the animals, very strange. so sorry for your loss. way to turn it into a positive learning experience for Noah though!

  2. So sorry--what a sad experience!


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