Forever homes are sought for special pets with special needs

Leonard (formerly Kringle)

Leonard (formerly Kringle)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The Mesabi Humane Society currently has 10 animals—both cats and dogs—who have varying degrees of special needs. All of these animals have been altered, vaccinated, had blood tests and thorough medical exams. Oftentimes special needs animals are overlooked by potential adopters because of their medical conditions. But these animals are worthy of and deserve forever homes because they, too, need love, understanding, patience and a bit of extra care so they can enjoy the comforts of a compassionate home. Following are stories of special needs animals who have found their forever homes.

For more information, please visit Mesabi Humane Society at 2305 Southern Dr. in Virginia or call 218-741-7425.

It was on Nov. 30, 2017, when Kringle was brought in to Mesabi Humane Society from Gilbert as a stray. He was this very thin, white kitten with brown tabby spots and you could see in his eyes that he was hurting. He was obviously injured so we brought him to the vet for emergency care. After a thorough exam it was found that he fractured his left tibia, had fractured his right pelvic region, his lower jaw was degloved, and he suffered severe head trauma. The veterinarian said that his extensive injuries were more than likely caused by the fact he was hit by a car and left; he weighed only four pounds. He had surgery to repair his lower jaw and we were hopeful that his fractures would heal without surgery.



I took him home, just to foster, so he could recover in a quiet, safe and loving environment. I have taken many cats home over many years for various lengths of time and needing various forms of medical care. I thought that this would be like most of the other foster gigs. He would stay until he made a full recovery and then I would bring him back to the shelter so he could be adopted to his forever home.

Kringle’s recovery was slow, as many cases of head trauma take some time to recover from. He had a very difficult time sitting still as he was only four months old at that time. At times, while in a deep sleep, he would have a mild seizure which, once again, is due to head trauma. I would lie next to him and hold him tight until he stopped twitching. It absolutely broke my heart to see him go through this, but with time, the seizures had subsided.



It seems as if every step he took I would cringe because he wanted to speed around the house chasing my cats in his fragile condition. He could not gauge distance very well so his jumping capabilities were quite lacking for a kitten and he was very clumsy. As I soon realized, this little kitten was quite determined to be as “normal” as any other kitten his age and his injuries would certainly not limit him. I was worried that he would further injure himself so needless to say, I knew that I would have my hands full with this little spitfire.

Well, six weeks pass and it was time to bring Kringle in for his follow-up exam to see if the fractures were healing and to gauge his progress. I was obviously a little nervous because he had been so fearless in the past six weeks! The x-rays showed that both fractures were healing nicely and that he would recover without having to undergo another surgery. I was so happy and relieved that this kitten’s determination carried him through the most difficult part of his recovery and that he was well on his way to being a “normal” kitten.



I took him home for what I thought would be just a few more weeks so I could make sure that he was completely ready for adoption. Needless to say, those few weeks turned in to a few months—well nine to be exact— and Kringle became Leonard! As the time had passed I would look at him and I just couldn’t imagine him not being a part of my life.

As with every foster cat or kitten that I take home I have learned so much, medically speaking, and most importantly, that animals are extremely resilient, forgiving and offer an unconditional love like none other!

Abbott (now Biff) and Archie (now Little Man)

Abbott (now Biff) and Archie (now Little Man)

Now at a year-and-a-half old Leonard is still energetic, fearless, mischievous, clumsy, strong willed, loving and one of the most precious cats that I have ever had. He walks with a gait similar to a prancing pony because of his injuries, his mouth works like more of a shovel when eating and he sometimes drools. He sometimes misses his mark when jumping, but he is absolutely perfect in my eyes! He is my NenNen, my Leonard.

When considering adopting a cat or dog from a shelter, please ask about those animals who have special needs. The Mesabi Humane Society has both cats and dogs with varying degrees of special needs that are waiting for forever homes. Special need does not necessarily mean that there is a great expense involved, just a greater deal of patience, understanding and love! What one receives in return is far greater than what one gives.

Mary Stocco lives in Virginia, MN. She is the Mesabi Humane Society shelter manager.

Little Man

Little Man

As a shelter volunteer, I met and adopted a very sweet and lonely twoyear old pit bull mix from Mesabi Humane Society. A couple of days later, I made an appointment to have a wellness check with a local veterinarian. It was discovered that Nitty was a very sick dog. Her heart valve was stuck in the open position and she had an extremely enlarged heart due to the excess amount of blood. The doctor said that perhaps I would have her three or four months due to this condition and suggested I take her to the University of Minnesota veterinary hospital in St. Paul for a second opinion.

At the university a couple of weeks later, four doctors confirmed the local diagnosis. A severe heart murmur. They also told me to love her every day as there would not be many of them. There is a surgery available in four places in the U.S., but no guarantees come with the very expensive surgery and two of the doctors did not think that she would survive the anesthesia.

This all happened in 2013. Nitty is with me today, eight-years-old, with only small signs of the problem. The murmur is still there and the vet says, “There is no reason for her to be alive.” But you can find her running around the backyard wagging her tail or with me checking out the great smells on the bike trail.

Clearly, there is a reason for her to be alive. Miracles DO happen and Nitty, my miracle girl, is the April pet of the month on the MHS calendar!

By Kathy Wiegert, Virginia, MN.

Daffodil wasn’t very social with me at first. Every time we (my grandma and I) went to the shelter though, we’d talk to her and comfort her. One day I asked if I could open her cage to pet her, and they let me. So I opened her cage and put my hand up to her and let her sniff me. She was comfortable with me, so I started petting her.

I started to like Daffodil more and more, and she started to become calmer around me. On my 13th birthday, she even let me hold her, and she was completely fine. My mom started getting more attached to the cat as well, even though she explicitly told me “no more pets.”

One day, coming home from skiing, I got in the house and my grandma was weirdly recording me; something was off. I set my stuff down and went to my mom to see her holding Daffodil on our couch. We were only fostering her; Daffodil was skittish, and she still is.

On Christmas Eve we were opening presents and inside one of my gifts was a certificate saying, “You are now the proud owner of Daffodil!” I was so happy. Daffodil became less skittish and more comfortable with us, but she’s still skittish.

That’s how we got Daffodil, the one-eyed-wonder.

By Daisy Borden, Virginia, MN.

I first met Charlie when I started working at Mesabi Humane Society in February of 2017. He was a handsome cat, but he often didn’t feel well and his kennel was always the worst. He had chronic diarrhea and every morning whoever had to clean his kennel had to contend with diarrhea on the cat bed, on the kennel floor and on the walls.

The shelter had run a fecal floatation and dewormed him to see if intestinal parasites were the cause of the diarrhea, but nothing changed. Charlie had also been on prednisone twice a day for about a year and a half and was placed on a prescription diet, still nothing changed.

Working with Charlie I really started falling in love. He was very much an independent cat, but he would have occasional bouts of playful behavior just like a kitten. Around January of 2018, I promised that if Charlie had not found a forever home by the time I moved to the Twin Cities that summer to attend the College of Veterinary Medicine in the fall of 2018, I would love to take him with me.

Time passed and although I had left MHS in April in preparation for my move, I would still go and visit Charlie off and on.

June rolled around and no one had yet adopted him, so I brought him home with me. He came with me to my other job at Critter Care Pet Clinic and we tried to do some bloodwork to determine any issues. We retested his feces for intestinal parasites and still found nothing. His bloodwork also didn’t show anything. The veterinarian at Critter Care recommended we try placing him on a different prescription diet in case he had allergies to something in his current diet. We placed him on a wet and dry food Hill’s Z/D diet and started mixing his wet food with pumpkin.

Currently I live in an apartment in the cities with Charlie. We have two litterboxes for him that are cleaned out regularly as he walks into them frequently. He gets his wet food with pumpkin twice per day, once in the morning and once at night, and receives dry food during the day. He seems to be doing better, though he still has very soft stool.

We may do additional testing in the future, but at the moment Charlie is happy and loves sitting next to my fiancé and me when we are watching movies or playing games. Recently he has recently gotten really good at begging. He will place his paw on our hands when we have something he wants—especially anything in a cup because he thinks it is milk…it’s so hard to say no!

Thank you MHS for taking care of Charlie until I could bring him home! He really has been an amazing companion and we couldn’t imagine our home without him in it!

By Jesslynn Poitra, Minneapolis, MN.

Three years ago on a cold and dark October morning, a faithful MHS volunteer was headed to work. Driving on Southern Drive she noticed a car ahead of her put on its brakes, appear to stop a moment and then drive off. Then the volunteer saw something on the road ahead. Two tiny kittens huddled together had just been dumped in front of the shelter. Fortunately, they were scooped up and taken in by MHS.

I was contacted and was able to foster these two orphans, Archie and Abbott. They were afraid, yet fascinated by the TV, mirrors and phones. They paid no attention to my pets. What a pair they were discovering this new world!

The boys are polydactyl on all four paws. Archie has no ulna or radius bones in either front leg. He was able to walk on his “elbows” and would sit up looking like a meerkat. His toes worked well and he played like any other kitten. I didn’t see him again because when he went for an assessment, he was adopted by one of the techs.

That left my Abbott who I renamed Biff. I couldn’t bear to part with him and I adopted him. He is a very weird cat and he fits in my home perfectly!

Thank you for allowing me to foster and adopt my Biffykins! Thank you for all the hard work taking in critters in need.

By Bobbi Hanson, Angora, MN.

I met Archie, now known as Little Man, through my work as he came into the clinic due to his handicap— he is missing both radius bones in his front

legs and walks bent at his elbows. The concern was whether he was in pain and would need to have his legs amputated and given a cart.

I walked in Monday morning to see this little kitten sitting serenely and patiently in the kennel room and his little brother (Abbott) next to him putting up a huge fuss (see photo of Abbott and Archie). I picked him up and carried him around with me while I did my morning routine and was in love in the first 20 minutes.

I asked if I could take him home for a few days to acclimate him to my home before his surgery as I had intentions of fostering/ adopting. It quickly became clear that he was king of the castle. He wrestled and played with my dogs and harassed my older cats with all the attitude I’ve come to expect from your typical orange kitty. He leaps and twists and jumps and pounces with all the abandon of your average cat.

Having just recently lost my father, Archie/Little Man quickly became a welcome distraction and friend, cuddling with me in the night when the pain and loneliness was the worst.

It quickly became clear that surgery would not be necessary and that he was meant to be in our lives. The only concessions I’ve made to his handicap is a senior cat tree so he can climb up to sit in his favorite windows.

When people see him and ask me what’s wrong with him, I say nothing is wrong with him, because it’s true. Little Man may technically be handicap, but like all orange cats he’s not listening.

By Jennifer Busha, Palo, MN.

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