Staff members of the Homeless Animal Adoption League had never been so worried for an animal like they were now. But here they were, racing at full speed, searching in every nook and cranny. They were really worried about the fate of this animal as it was late December. But they were packing layers of clothes, a dry car, and heating to help keep the animals warm. Finally, they saw a man wave at them by the side of the road. They’ve found them.
Generally, animal rescuers get tons of phone calls about animals in distress. Cats get stuck up in trees, rabbits falling in places, or stray dogs making a mess around town. Despite getting bombarded by hundreds of calls, they’re always empathetic to every animal and what they’re going through. But as the team was checking up on their rescues, they got a phone call. Today would prove to be quite a challenging day.
Founded in 1989, the Homeless Animal Adoption League, also known as HAAL, is an organization that seeks to rehome animals. Originally, it was also known as the East Orange Animal League. This organization was established when locals raised concerns over the awful conditions in the Easy Orange Pound. Finally, New Jersey City locals had a non-profit that actually cared for the lives of animals that were in need. Others weren’t really on board with this, though.
Finally, the East Orange Pound shut its doors in 1995, after many years of investigation and complaints. But HAAL was originally meant to be a temporary fix. Thankfully, after their many efforts and years of hard work, and true love for the animals of Bloomfield, the organization was there to stay. The residents weren’t about to let them go, and because they didn’t count on state or deferral funds, locals and animal lovers started donating and supporting the organization. Every single person working there is a volunteer, and every penny they receive goes towards helping animals in need. Sadly, this situation really makes things complicated.
HAAL specializes in feline rehoming, as they’re mostly focused on “saving lives one cat at a time,” which is part of the organization’s objectives. The wonderful team at HAAL works incessantly to provide care, nurture, vaccinations, neutering, spays and even health care checks for the animals they rescue. But they offer so much more than that, as they truly love interacting with the animals, showing them love while they care for them. Sadly, some of these cats have been through the ringer.
The organization has been taking care of felines in need for more than 20 years. Most of these animals have been through hell and back. Sadly, most of them have either been abandoned or abused. And while taking care of them is serious work, it’s really rewarding for the staff when they finally find them a home where they’ll forever be loved. But this one particular call they got during a cold winter night had them questioning everything.
HAAL posted a heart-wrenching message on their Facebook page, “When you get a call saying that kittens are in a laundry basket on a curb, your heart sinks. The call sounded legit and the caller seemed truly concerned.” The guy who called the organization was jittering from the cold, but he was also shaken by the conditions in which he’d found the kittens. He pleaded, “Please hurry.” He was worried sick about the wellbeing of those poor kitties and their mom, who was doing her best to keep them warm. But the temperature was starting to drop, and the poor animals risked getting hypothermia. They were in a sense, running out of time.
“We went off to see if we could find these frightened babies. With GPS in hand, we quickly found the street. Once we parked, we started walking, and in seconds, we saw a recycling container on the curb,” they shared. Within seconds, they found 4 vulnerable tiny kittens who must’ve been a week old at best. Their mommy had thankfully, been able to stay warm despite the horrific weather. But as usual, there was more than meets the eye.
“They looked good; [they had] clear eyes and noses and were eating on their own. We moved some cats around and squeezed them in – seven more to add to our family,” they continued on their post. “Mom was quiet and looked up as if to say, ‘Thank God you found us.’” The kittens had been living in horrible conditions, and despite the awful circumstances, they seem to be okay. But boy, was the staff at HAAL in for a treat the next day!
The vets followed through the next day and gave each kitten a quick check-up, but then, they realized something truly uncanny. The kittens’ momma was actually a male cat! The team was truly dumbfounded, as they had never seen something like it. “He could have been the dad or a big brother from another litter, but to those kittens, he was their protector and surrogate mom. He groomed them and gently played with each one,” they added. Sadly, this feline family wasn’t done with their struggles.
Now that they had discovered the momma cat’s true identity, they needed to choose a befitting name. They ended up choosing the hilarious name “Mrs. Doubtfire,” in honor of Robin William’s iconic role in the movie by the same name. The team was excited about caring for this lovely blended family of cats, but now, they needed to name the six kittens and find them a new loving home. Sadly, Mrs. Doubtfire would still need to go through a few hiccups.
After doing a more extensive health check-up on poor Mrs. Doubfire, the vets realized that he was struggling with irregular heartbeats and labored breathing. Finally, the team realized after many, many tests, that the poor cat was suffering from a diaphragmatic hernia. It was evident that the poor cat had been abused, most likely getting punched in the abdomen, which is what caused a tear in his diaphragm. Eventually, the tear shifted his organs into his chest cavity. Despite being in good hands, Mrs. Doubtfire wasn’t done struggling.
Now that they’ve learned about Mrs. Doubtfire’s condition, the team needed to raise funds to carry on with the operation, which would prove to be quite expensive. They estimated the procedure would cost around $8,000. But the team was confident they’d be able to raise that sum, as they’ve done it in the past. Their GoFundMe page started posting videos and invites to share Mrs. Doubtfire’s struggles, hoping to save him. Then, HAAL’s house-vet shared some disappointing news.
Performing this procedure on Mrs. Doubtfire would only guarantee a 65% chance of recovery, and complications aren’t uncommon. Other animals haven’t been able to handle the surgery, so the team was left dumbfounded. Was it worth putting his life at risk just to get him to live a few more years? Mrs. Doubtfire wasn’t really in pain. He was finally surrounded by love, and affection. But several days went by and the team finally made up their minds. They were going through with the procedure! But would it be worth it?
The team at HAAL was growing increasingly worried that no one would take in Mrs. Doubtfire. But as the lovely six kitties got bigger, it got easier and easier to find them a home. Six became five, and so on until they were all adopted. Soon enough, Mrs. Doubtfire was all alone, but it didn’t take long for a family to open their doors and arms to this caring father who’s been through hell. His hernia was finally under control, and he was able to live a healthy normal life. Now he was finally surrounded by love, hugs, and kisses, and he had absolutely earned it!