Editor’s Note: We discussed this story on the Live Show (4:10)
A Templeton family lost their outdoor cat Hercules 4 months ago and presumed he had died. Luckily Hercules was alive and was found in nearby Winchendon, where someone contacted animal control and had the cat brought to a shelter in Templeton called Ahisma Haven Animal Rescue. Unfortunately for the owners the shelter had adopted Hercules out to a new family, so they contacted Ahisma and were told that they were out of luck.
I understand that this probably happens more than we realize, and I don’t blame the shelter for finding a new home for the cat. But there’s a sensitive and respectful way to handle situations like this, and then there’s this way:
They posted about the missing cat on Facebook. And if you’re not one of the 12,000 people who religiously follows their page then you’re shit out of luck. The worst part of it was the “he’s very happy in his new home,” quote. Be a bigger c you next Tuesday. You can’t.
The cat went missing on June 22, and Ahimsa posted about it on June 25.
That was the extent of their looking for the owner, who lives in the same town. The cat was found in southern Winchendon, near the Templeton town line. Unless the owner was on Facebook (which shouldn’t just be assumed), and followed their page, then they would never have seen this mediocre, up close picture of the cat. They did the bare minimum, so their conscience is clear.
Within 3 weeks the shelter had already put up an ad for the cat and renamed it Bongo and then Creamsicle.
Hercules is 9 years old. If you adopt a rescue like that then you’re not intending for it to be part of your life for that long. I would assume that the kind of people who would adopt a 9 year old cat are doing so because the alternative is for the poor thing to live in a shelter. Therefore I would hope that if the rescue picked up the phone, spoke to whoever adopted Hercules, explained to them that two little boys are sad because the cat they love is not home where it belongs, then the new owners would be sympathetic and return the cat to its rightful owner. Just show them these pictures:
If you’re not willing to return a cat after seeing those pictures then you have no soul. If the new owners wanted a long term family cat then why wouldn’t they adopt a kitten or a younger cat that won’t be dead in 5-6 years? I have a feeling that more than likely the new owner is someone who religiously follows Ahisma’s Facebook page and probably has more than one cat. They’re probably not bad people, and they want to give cats like this a home. I’m guessing they don’t have children, because who would introduce a cat to be part of their family if the cat is that old?
But let’s suppose they do have children and they’ve bonded with Hercules over the last 3 months. This is a great chance to teach their kids about empathy. You tell them that two other little boys are sad because they love the cat and miss him being in their home. Then you show them these pictures:
Unless your child is the spawn of satan then they will want to make sure Hercules gets home to his rightful owners. It would be sad for them, but the life lesson they’d learn from returning Hercules would be invaluable, and they’d be able to get a younger cat that could be part of their lives for much longer.
But my money is on a single cat lady who follows the page religiously being the owner.
The mother pleaded with Ahimsa to contact the new family that took Hercules in. Their response was even worse than the first one.
“Luckily we saved him from getting into the wrong hands or eaten by wild life.”
Oh get over yourself. Someone else found the cat and brought it to you. You were looking to get rid of it two days later and did the bare minimum to make sure the cat didn’t belong to someone.
“Hope you can take comfort knowing he’s in a wonderful home.”
F********* you. I’m sorry, but how do you run an animal rescue like this and have such a lack of empathy? You think this woman wants to hear how happy the cat is in her “wonderful home?” The undertones of that message are clear – you’re a shitty person who would’ve gotten your cat killed if we didn’t save it, so we sold YOUR cat to someone better than you. Hopefully your crying children can take comfort in the fact that their cat is somewhere close by, but they’ll never see him again. Can’t you just get them a fish or something? Tell me you don’t have kids without telling me you don’t have kids.
All they had to do was just tell JC that they would reach out to the family, but they didn’t do that. Instead they blocked her for posting about what happened and responded with this:
I highly doubt this cat was in dire need after 2 days away from home.
Granted, there are things that JC Harris could’ve done differently as well. Hercules was microchipped, but they didn’t register it.
But mistakes happen. There are two very upset children who miss and want their cat back. I know that legally the rescue did nothing wrong, but her kids shouldn’t be punished for her mistake. Any decent person would do the right thing and give the cat back to its rightful owner. At the very least they could make an effort to reach out to the owner. Instead they were rude, insensitive, and blamed the rightful owners.
I have no idea the extent of what the family did to look for Hercules, but not everyone is prepared for something like this or knows what to do. They learned their lesson the hard way that you have to put up missing posters and call animal rescues in surrounding towns. I reached out to JC Harris about this, but shortly after that she deactivated her account completely. Maybe she thought I was going to write a blog bashing her, but if she’s reading this, I come in peace. I was heartbroken to see your post and the picture of your kids, and wanted to use this platform to get the current owner to do the right thing and give the cat back to you.
She seemed really nice and understanding from her comments and probably didn’t want too much controversy. Despite all that’s happened she was respectful towards the shelter but ended up getting blocked by them.
Maybe she was spooked from judgmental comments like this from Patty Pronouns on their page:
“Clearly she was not doing a lot to get proof of whether her cat was really dead or not.”
Oh right. Because if a coyote got it then it’s her job to make sure she finds the remains in the woods.
Ultimately Ahisma was shamed into at least contacting the new owners, who are mulling over what to do. In the meantime they’ve victimized themselves.
“We have been receiving horrible messages from people.”
Well, maybe you should be more empathetic and less horrible with people who are in pain, and not block them from messaging you. Might help with the blowback.
The bottom line is whoever the new owner is is basically a foster family. Hercules bonded with the real owners for 9 years, and only has been with these new people for 3 months. The Harris family is willing to pay for the cat back, as well as any associated fees involved. Ahisma should do the right thing, and in the future they should be more proactive in returning missing cats to their rightful owners. The Harris’ could’ve done more, but so could’ve Ahisma.