“Hello, this is Gerald *last name*, proud father of Fatz *last name*.”
This is how Gerald began every phone call with our staff members over the two and a half months that Fatz was in the care of the Lawrence Humane Society’s Crisis Pet Retention (CPR) program. The love he has for his dog was evident as soon as the receiver was picked up.
It feels like ages ago now that the sun is shining warmly, the trees are blooming, and our gardens are starting to pop with springtime perennials. But just a few months ago, Douglas County residents experienced an unprecedented cold snap with temperatures reaching the negative 30s and staying well below freezing for several weeks. It was during this Arctic surge that Gerald and his wife, Rebecca, called the Lawrence Humane Society.
As with everyone, the COVID pandemic had made things challenging and Gerald and Rebecca had lost their home. They were staying in their car while they figured things out, but the frigid temperatures made that unsafe. Luckily, they were able to find safety and warmth at the Lawrence Winter Shelter. However – Fatz, Gerald and Rebecca’s beloved pug mix was not allowed inside.
That first night at the winter shelter, Fatz stayed in the car, wrapped in blanket upon blanket. Rebecca and Gerald didn’t sleep at all, running outside to check on him every hour, making sure he wasn’t too cold, and that his breathing hadn’t slowed down. It was a miserable night and they were racked with fear and guilt. The next day, they called the Lawrence Humane Society’s Crisis Pet Retention line.
Rebecca explained their circumstances and we encouraged her to bring Fatz right away so they wouldn’t have to spend one more minute worrying. Once Rebecca and Gerald arrived with Fatz zipped up in Gerald’s coat, our Community Caseworkers walked them through the details of the program and got more information about Fatz.
Fatz stayed at Lawrence Humane for a couple of days while he got neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, and up-to-date on his rabies vaccine, all subsidized through the CPR program. Once he was all set medically, our Foster and Transfer Manager put out a call for a temporary crisis foster home for Fatz, and immediately hit the jackpot – two young men, both students at KU, who have fostered dogs, cats, and sick kittens regularly through our foster program.
With all of their classes online, the two young fosters were thrilled to have a buddy to snuggle next to them while they studied. They rode out the winter storm, safely ensconced in their apartment, and once the weather turned warm, all three eagerly enjoyed their time outside, hiking and exploring the Baker Wetlands.
The two fosters regularly sent updates and pictures of Fatz’s adventures to the Lawrence Humane staff, who in turn shared those pictures and updates with Gerald and Rebecca, who called regularly to check in. With the knowledge and assurance that Fatz was safe, cared for, and enjoying the college life, Gerald and Rebecca were able to focus on themselves. They were able to get some medical needs met and through the Rapid Re-Housing program, they were able to secure a home for themselves and Fatz.
On April 6, 2021, after approximately two and a half months in foster care through the CPR program, Fatz was reunited with Rebecca and Gerald! Adding to the emotional reunion was the fact that Gerald and Rebecca got to meet the two young men who had been taking care of their beloved Fatz all that time. (While Lawrence Humane tries to protect the privacy of both the fosters and owners who participate in the CPR program’s crisis boarding and act as the go-between, if a foster and owner both want to meet, they are always welcome to.)
The fosters told Gerald and Rebecca how much they enjoyed taking care of Fatz, that they’re both members of the KU rock climbing club and how Fatz got to join them on club expeditions and adventures. In turn, Gerald and Rebecca thanked them repeatedly, letting the young men know how their selflessness allowed this family to stay together.
“A lot of people say they want to do good in the world, that they’re going to do good, but they don’t always follow through. You guys actually did it,” Gerald told the young fosters, “You stepped up and I’ll always be grateful.”
The veterinary care that Fatz received was subsidized through the Crisis Pet Retention program, which also subsidized the food and supplies that his fosters used during his stay with them. The CPR program is funded exclusively by donations, which we rely on to keep this transformative program sustainable. All donations made to the CPR fund will go towards Lawrence Humane Society’s efforts to keep people and pets together, like Fatz and his family.