Local Stray Cat Story Goes Viral


West Union, OH – 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we all now know what it’s like to be stuck in one place for months at a time without anywhere to go or anyone to visit. Imagine what it would be like if you were unable to leave your bedroom for that same amount of time. At animal shelters all over the world, animals are stuck for days, weeks, months, and even years at a time in their cages and kennels. They are waiting for the right family to come along and give them a second chance at a great life. On a freezing cold day in February 2020, two cats were found as strays along a rural country road and were brought to the Humane Society of Adams County (HSAC) animal shelter in West Union. After undergoing routine veterinary care and testing, it was discovered that both cats were affected by a virus similar to human HIV. 

In cats, the virus is called Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). FIV only affects cats and cannot be transmitted to people. A cat that has contracted FIV can live a long and healthy life with proper veterinary care and a healthy lifestyle. The transmission of FIV is usually through deep bite wounds. Many cats with FIV live for decades in the same home with other cats without transmitting the disease. Unfortunately, cats with FIV are often overlooked by adopters because of their special status. The cats, a brown tabby with white markings named “Dove”, and a black and white shorthair cat named “TipToe,” remained at the shelter, stuck in their stainless steel enclosures, month after month, without any interest from adopters. Finally, on August 28, 2020, a day before they reached their 200th day in the shelter, a story about Dove’s plight was published on the HSAC Facebook page. Dove’s story struck a nerve with people all over the world. By September 8, just eleven days after the post went live, Dove’s story had been viewed by 486,445 people. Individuals from as far away as Australia were offering support for the little cat in Adams County, Ohio. Dove’s adoption fee of $45.00 was fully sponsored by Shed Squad of West Union, Ohio. Applications to adopt Dove began flooding the HSAC computer system. Sixty-five applications arrived in all.

  One of the applicants stood out to shelter adoption coordinators. A family whose cat had passed away in March had been grieving the loss of their beloved pet, who died of cancer. When the family saw the post for Dove, they immediately felt drawn to him and quickly decided to submit an application. With no other pets in their home, and with excellent praise from their veterinarian, shelter adoption coordinators felt that Dove would be able to get the attention and love he deserved after such a long time in the animal shelter. When the family arrived at the HSAC animal shelter on Saturday, September 5, Dove was brought out of his cage and into the break room for some meet-and-greet time. When Dove behaved shyly, shelter staff member Rachael Hamilton mentioned that having his buddy TipToe in the room might help him feel more confident to check out his potential new family. Sure enough, when TipToe arrived in the room, Dove became a different cat. He came out of hiding and rushed to TipToe, his friend and companion whom he had not seen since entering the shelter in March, since they were housed separately due to small cage space. Rubbing against each other like long-lost brothers, the family realized that they could not take Dove from TipToe. They decided to adopt both cats together. Tiptoe’s adoption fee had been fully sponsored by Lely Palmer, so both cats were free to the family. The family decided to still go ahead and donate one hundred dollars to the animal shelter to help more animals. Dove and TipToe made the journey to their new home and have already settled into their freedom. Their new family reports that they are inseparable. Laidback TipToe acts as Dove’s security blanket and is helping him bond more quickly with their new human family members every day.

This heartwarming story was made possible by the amazing local community members and out-of-towners who support the group. As a nonprofit 501c3 organization, HSAC relies solely on donations to fulfill its mission to help homeless pets in need and end pet overpopulation. Through its Sponsor-a-Pet program, even people who cannot adopt can still help pay the adoption fee of a homeless shelter pet. Sponsoring a shelter pet’s adoption fee helps it get a home faster, which allows HSAC to make space for more pets in need. Sponsored pets are free to adopt, pending an approved adoption application. Adopters are still carefully screened. The Sponsor-a-Pet program is available on the group’s website, www.adamscountyanimals.org.

For more information about the Humane Society of Adams County, and to donate to help more animals like Dove and TipToe, please visit www.adamscountyanimals.org. Email HSAC at info@adamscountyanimals.org and follow them on Facebook.


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