We will never know how he got to where he was and what his whole story is, but we are not licensed to house wildlife. We thank Judy Cusworth
In Memory of Laney – April 2, 2021
It is with very heavy hearts that we have to announce the passing of our dear sweet Laney. For those of you who have been following her story, you know that she had been through a lot. Although she only graced this world for 14 weeks, she left a mark on a lot of hearts and on our organization as a whole. Laney represented everything about the SFC mission. Saying good-bye was so incredibly difficult. Her light shined bright and filled our world with her grace. The truth is that no amount of time would have felt like enough. But we also know that we gave her the very best that could be offered while she was here.
Laney was born without a rectum, a condition called Atresia Ani Type 3. She came to us when she was 7 weeks old and she weighed less than a pound. She was extremely tiny. The only hope she had for survival was a surgery where they would create a connection from colon to anus. But Laney also had other complications. We do not know if it was part of a birth defect or the result of an injury but when she came to us, she could not use her back legs properly. But it was clear from day one that Laney was full of life and not ready to leave this world quite yet. So, we set out to try and help her.
Surgery was done at Cornell University of Veterinary Medicine by Dr. Daniel Lopez. It was an extremely difficult surgery with an uncertain outcome. The only certainty was that an entire team of humans all gathered and focused their hearts and their skills on one little one pound kitten with a huge spirit. Surgery was a success. She not only survived, but she came home the day after and began to eat solid food for the first time in her life. She was not out of the woods by any means. Each day she crossed another hurdle. Two weeks into recovery, she even started to use her back legs and we saw great hope that she would also be able to walk again. We sat and watched her one evening, walk normally for several minutes. She played, chased toys, and she loved her meals served to her every few hours even through the middle of the night. More than anything, she fully understood how much she was loved.
Laney got to experience life in those few weeks in all of its blessings and exuberance. She was a calico and she had the calico spunk and attitude. Meaning when things didn’t go exactly her way, she was not shy to express herself. In turn, she brought all of us great joy as we watched her heal and blossom. Her little body could barely contain the light within her. She would look us in the eyes intently and hold our gaze. It felt magical somehow.
In the past couple of days, suddenly things changed. While she had started to pass stool and things seemed to be progressing nicely, the reality was that she wasn’t passing enough. Sadly, more testing showed that her colon did not have the motility needed to move stool on through. Medication therapy was not successful. Her tiny little body wasn’t growing because she could not assimilate nutrients as she should have. We were losing her, and it became clear that there was nothing more we could do to fix this problem.
It is always our mission to listen to each animal for what they need and to understand when they’ve had enough. We had reached that sometimes fine but clear line of when we were doing something for her and when we’d be doing something to her just because we could. These are always very tough discussions here. But we listen to the animal and let them guide us. Laney was filled with love. She was overflowing with joy. She had also done all that she could in that body. No one ever wants to think it’s over when life barely began for her. But her journey in this body was finished. We put our heartbreak aside and we held her with love and gratitude in our hearts for all that she had brought to all of us. The team of people that rallied around her and loved her is huge. One big circle of cheerleaders who wanted nothing more than to see her grow up and even to face her opinionated side as we went along. But that was not her journey. The outcome didn’t look like we wanted it to look. But in the end, Laney’s courageous journey was a complete success. She found amazing love in this life. Short, but chocked full of total love focused completely on her day and night.
Yes, our hearts are breaking. But we can look at her photo and see those eyes and our hearts still fill with the mighty bright light that filled her every cell. We do not regret one decision we made with her on this journey. We do wish it could have been longer. And we all hope our paths will cross again.
There are so many people who we thank for all they gave and did for Laney. From the entire medical team at Cornell University, to every one of her caretakers here at SFC. And with special mention to our Co-Founder, Bonnie who got up with Laney through the night every single night since Laney arrived to be sure that she was fed and cleaned and loved around the clock, and to our own staff veterinarian and Director of Animal Welfare, Dr. Christine who put her entire heart and soul into Laney’s care.
We hold you in our hearts forever Laney. And we are grateful for all you brought to us.
We’d like to share with you the story of little Dandelion, or Miss Dandy as she has come to be known. Our Serenity Fund is set up to help animals such as Miss Dandy who find themselves in dire circumstances with no where else to go. Your donations make all of this possible.
Dandelion arrived here just a few days old in June 2020. She and her three littermates were found abandoned by a good samaritan after their mother never came home. Bonnie immediately took to bottle feeding them. Two of them were not doing well. One died a few days later and the other, much smaller than all the rest, kept fighting and survived. The two others were totally healthy and eventually went to a loving home together. But the smallest one, who never did well, ended up being our Miss Dandy. Bonnie knew from the very beginning that something was just not right with her. She struggled to pass stool and was just not thriving. Over the next several months, Dandelion went through many different tests to try to find a cause as to what was going on but it was difficult to determine at first what was happening. Our Veterinarian, Dr. Christine, did all sorts of tests and suspected a congenital defect may be the cause. Dandelion had also developed Megacolon where her colon had become enlarged and unable to have the proper motility to pass stool along to the anus. Dr. Christine immediately put her on medication to soften her stool so that she could pass it. Due to COVID and the backlog of appointments everywhere, it took us several weeks to get her in for an appointment with a specialist. In the meantime, we tried to support Dandelion to be sure she was strong enough for surgery should she need it.
In January 2021, a trip to Upstate Veterinary Specialists in Latham, NY brought us more answers. Veterinary Surgeon, Dr. Palamara, performed further diagnostics to ultimately discover and diagnose that Dandelion was born with a congenital defect called Atresia Ani – Type 1. To sum it up, the connection between her colon and her anus never formed properly, leaving her with a very tiny tube connecting the two. It was impossible for her to pass formed stool. As a result of this abnormality, Dandelion also developed a secondary condition of Megacolon. Her situation was dire unless surgery could be performed to essentially open up the anus so that she could pass stool.
Dr. Palamara determined she would be a candidate for surgery but that he was not sure she’d be bowel continent when all was finished. She did not respond normally to nerve stimulation and there was concern that she may not have developed the normal sphincter control needed to regulate when she needed to use the litterbox.
Miss Dandy is quite the personality. She is a favorite of everyone who meets her. She never stops purring and wiggling and playing. She is a mighty soul in a teeny tiny little orange body. She has enough spunk for a cat 10 times her size. Clearly, she wanted to try to live, regardless of the challenges. She was enjoying life despite her difficulties. Our staff had enormous challenges to keep her clean as the medications were needed to induce diarrhea in order for her to pass stool.
We gave Dr. Palamara the go ahead for surgery. Yes, there would be unknowns to face ahead. But we knew that Dandy was making a go of it and we were on board to give her every ounce of help we could. And then we’d take it day by day and step by step.
We are excited to announce that Miss Dandelion had her surgery in mid-January and it was extremely successful. Just one day after she came home, we walked in to find her purring and greeting us enthusiastically from her crate, and found a perfectly normal looking poop in the litter box. She is now continuously producing normal stool and she has not once failed to use the litter box. Miss Dandy has a second chance at life. She has a couple of weeks more of healing before we will repeat the radiographs to see how her colon is doing. There is hope that the Megacolon may reverse itself with medications and the renewed ability for the stool to move through now unobstructed.
Miss Dandy, the princess, will have a place to live her life regardless of the ultimate outcome. But right now, she is thriving. She is finally putting on weight and growing. And the purrs…. Oh, the purrs never stop. This is a kitten so full of life that there was no doubt that we had to try to support her on her journey. She is clearly here with a mission and it’s a big one!
Thank you to our own Dr. Christine Schneider and to Dr. Joseph Palamara for his expertise and support and for his willingness to go into a surgery that was very risky and with an uncertain outcome. And thank you to all of you who donate. Your support makes a huge difference. Dandy would not have a chance without your help. But, in turn, I can assure you that she is touching the hearts and lives of so many others. She is here in all her glory. And we hope that her path will be a long one. But no matter how long we have with her in this life, we will know everyone did their very best to support her and she never lets us forget the depth of her gratitude each and every day.
Dandelion’s medical costs to date have already exceeded $5,000
And here is a video of Miss Dandy
Just a short video of one of our daily turnouts for some of our mini-donkeys. They look like they have a little parade.