By LuAnn McLain
When Brenda Simon was alerted to the fact that "Gympy" had been surrendered to the Billings Animal Shelter, she was worried. As a veteran volunteer with the Shelter, animals with special needs were of special interest to her.
The owner had taken Gympy to the Billings Animal Shelter because he felt guilty about leaving her alone all the time. Gympy had a birth defect leaving her back legs useless so the shelter manager had decided not to keep the cat and the order was given to destroy Gympy. Fortunately, Brenda heard about the cat and the fateful decision.
Brenda made plans to arrive very early Sunday morning, before shelter personnel arrived, in order to assess the situation. Upon inspection she found that Gympy had no idea she was physically challenged.
According to the owner's reports, Gympy had always slept on his bed and seemed to get around fine. Brenda observed the cat moving around and navigating easily, using her litter box, and jumping up on things without difficulty. In addition, she was a very sweet and affectionate cat. Brenda changed the order to destroy the cat and made arrangements to move Gympy to her veterinarian's clinic.
Brenda's work with the shelter usually involves taking pictures of adoptable animals and writing up descriptions of them. She then sends the information to Montana Pets on the Net, located at montanapets.org. She especially likes to provide second chances for animals with special needs.
She got a picture and information about Gympy, now renamed "Florence", put it on the web page and made a special plea for the cat.
Kitty Keepers of Havre, the only cat sanctuary in Montana that provides lifelong care for cats that may never be adopted, agreed to give Florence a chance. Brenda was delighted. But how would Florence get from Billings to Havre?
Sue Markley of Kitty Keepers decided to ask Big Sky Airlines if they would fly Florence from Billings to Havre for free. The airline officials agreed.
Sue and Brenda were thrilled and decided to thank Big Sky Airlines by getting some publicity about their generosity.
Brenda contacted a reporter, Jan Falstad of the Billings Gazette, about the story. Jan seemed to warm to the idea and agreed to see the cat and consider some coverage.
When Brenda next heard from Jan later that day, it was not to do a story for the paper but to adopt Florence. She had fallen in love with the cat and wanted very much to adopt her.
Arrangements were made quickly and the serendipitous meeting led to Florence getting a new home and a new name. Jan named her Sera-short for Serendipity!
Jan has also told Brenda that she would like to hear from her on any other animal-related stories because she would like the opportunity to publicize them.
Have a happy and healthy week with your companion critters. If you would like to write to Pawsitively Pets, please send your letter to PO Box 1731, Havre, MT 59501.