Monday, August 15, 2011

Florida cats one step closer to their forever homes!

Submitted by RedRover Responders volunteer Beth Gammie of Tallahassee, Florida

The nearly 700 cats seized from a failed cat sanctuary in Florida are one step closer to their forever homes. On August 2, the couple that ran the sanctuary surrendered ownership of the rescued animals to Alachua County Animal Services, the agency that began the investigation into the cats’ welfare.

Jessica Lauginiger, the lead investigator for Alachua County Animal Services on this case, said the surrender means the cats can be spayed and neutered, undergo other needed surgeries, and be readied for adoption.  She added, “I’d love to see them all go to fabulous homes. That’s probably when I’m gonna break down and cry.”

An adopt-a-thon will be held in Gainesville on August 26, 27 and 28 to help place these cats into loving homes. Any cats not adopted at this event will be placed with reputable rescue groups throughout the country for adoptions. Anyone interested in finding out more details regarding adoptions may email Jessica Lauginiger at: Read about the adopt-a-thon in the Gainesville Sun.

The rescued cats have waited patiently since their rescue on June 7 and 8.  At that time, RedRover Responders volunteers set up an emergency shelter for the beleaguered cats, and provided care for the animals so neglected by humans. 

While the court case played out, the cats used the time to heal and recover. The difference between the cats now and in June is striking. Upper respiratory infections are gone. The cats’ eyes are clearer, and their breathing is normal. The shy ones have come out of their shells and the lively ones are livelier than ever. The kittens are now housed in a special room, dubbed “Romper Room,” and larger kennels were constructed for the 20 or so kittens so they could develop as normal, playful kittens.

Some of the other cats in medical difficulty have also made great progress. Grandma is a case in point.  Estimated to be between 15and 18 years old, Grandma came in to the shelter weighing a mere four pounds. She had no teeth, and although she ate ravenously, Grandma did not gain weight. 

Dr. Patty Gordon treated Grandma, and eventually moved her to the All Cats Clinic in Gainesville for further testing and treatment. Dr. Gordon diagnosed Grandma as having hyperthyroid disease, which explained some of her low weight. Dr. Gordon and her staff have fallen for Grandma and she remarked, “She is so sweet.  She is very interactive and watches everything that is going on.” The TLC is paying off—Grandma is now weighing in at more than five pounds and is looking better than ever.

Possum and his adopter Dr. Cate McManus
Possum, the blind kitty who is positive for the feline leukemia virus, is getting downright rambunctious. He meows at passersby, plays with his next-door neighbor, and the infection in his eyes have cleared up. Best of all, Possum has his forever home already picked out!  University of Florida veterinarian Cate McManus fell for Possum when she was treating cats at the emergency shelter and decided to adopt him. “There’s something about him that grabs your heart,” Dr. McManus said. Now that ownership has been surrendered, Dr. McManus can take Possum home, have him examined by a veterinary ophthalmologist, and give him the life he deserves.

RedRover Responders volunteers were there at the beginning of this lengthy rescue, and got these cats off to a great start in their temporary home. Alachua County Animal Services could not have undertaken this case without the help of the RedRover Responders and other partnering agencies. Jessica, the lead investigator said, “You guys were fantastic.  You come from all over the country, on your own dime and vacations. I can’t say enough about that.” She smiled and said, “It makes me want to be a better person.”

On August 15, the owners of Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary were arrested on 47 counts of animal cruelty. Read more >>


  1. Great update Beth! I can hardly wait to see what a success the adopt-a-thon will be.

  2. Marcia (RedRover Volunteer in Connecticut)8/18/11, 8:04 PM

    Beth, what a terrific blog entry! And thanks for the updates. I feel that I almost know Grandma and Possum, and I'm so happy to learn about their hopeful futures! You all did such great work in Florida!

  3. Aww, sweet Grandma. What a wonderful story!


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