06/3/13  |  The WINNERS of START’S giveback Before/After contest are…

1st place winner- Kitten Rescue (MELIHA)

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A few days before my trip back to Los Angeles, my mom and I spotted a tiny teeny kitten (looked like maybe about 6 weeks old) hanging out with some adult cats in front of a fish restaurant. One of the waiters said that the kitten just showed up a few days ago, there wasn’t a mommy cat and the kitten was just competing against the rest of the hungry cats there trying to get food scraps from the restaurant. As usual we were asked if we could please take the kitten so that she wouldn’t freeze to death or starve during the upcoming harsh Istanbul winter. My mom did take the kitty as she often does.

We decided to take the kitten to the city shelter vet to get her checked out. At the vet, as we were waiting our turn we could hear another client holding a teeny kitten asking the vet questions about the kitten’s eye infection. I recognized the man’s voice and asked my mom “Is this Melih?” Melih Çardak is a friend of ours whom we haven’t seen in about 20 years. Turns out on that same day he found a kitten -even smaller than the kitten we found-

On the street whose eyes were in the worst shape I have ever seen a cat’s or any other being’s eyes in. The shelter vet, who operates with very limited budget and under touch conditions, gave him an antibiotic eye ointment and said that the kitten would have to have her eyes removed.

We took Meliha home and bathed and syringe-fed her and kept her body temperature up applied her eye ointments around the clock

I immediately made an appointment to take Meliha to see Dr. Christine Fahrer at Eye Care for Animals and meanwhile took Meliha to see some of the super expert cat rescuers. Everybody agreed that the eyes would have to come out. In a couple of days it was time for our appointment. Dr. Fahrer said that she’s never seen eyes this bad on an animal but she still wanted to see if we could treat them with drops and ointments around the clock and get them in better shape before going into surgery. If we were so lucky maybe the eyes would heal without surgery. She confirmed however that Meliha didn’t see at all. The goal was to heal her eyes and to prevent the infection going to the brain. We started the treatment and Meliha was just the best kitten/patient there was. I was giving her eye drops and ointments several times a day and we were going back for rechecks to the vet regularly. With the work of everybody involved and Meliha’s unbeatable spirit her eyes got better and better and finally reached the point where she was healthy enough where the doctor confirmed while we needed to continue the meds, she didn’t need to have her eyes removed. This was a big victory for little Meliha! By now she was also healthy enough to get spayed and receive her FVRCP vaccines.

Could it be that she could actually be adopted out?

During an adoption event when I was sowing my other foster kittens, I told Meliha’s story to another Kitten Rescue foster parent, Cynthia McKeag. A few weeks later Cynthia contacted me to say that she heard from a potential adopter looking for a special needs kitty. The potential adopter was based in Seattle. After exchanging pictures and questionnaires, the adopter picked Meliha and another special needs kitty to adopt and Cynthia flew the kitties to Seattle to do the home check and to help them get settled in their new home. We continue receiving Meliha’s pictures, videos and updates. She grew into a super active and confident kitty and her adopter is training her to be a therapy cat. I could have never imagined that Meliha would even survive that first night when we met her. Meliha doesn’t see but knows that she is loved and cherished and that she is so very lucky that she was spotted when she was curled up in the street corner as a dying kitten by Melih.

2nd- Kat Parker (PIPER, “DrainPipe Kitty”)

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Piper was abandoned on the streets of Oceanside, CA. Not sure if she was adopted out of a shelter or not, originally, but she had no microchip when scanned after 5 years in the gutter.

This is the story of Piper, “DrainPipe Kitty”.  For a year, I tried, unsuccessfully, to humanely trap her… I fed her, too, and loved her, but in November, the rains were back; she was so sick and no longer could hide in the drainpipe.  She could hardly stand up.

According to neighbors and the old lady who fed Piper for four years on the corner in the drain pipe, Piper was once a cute little kitten that some people thought they wanted, 5 yrs. prior.   Imagine that. The people moved, though, and forgot they had the cute little kitty, then a teenager, to care for. She was abandoned, alone, on the street.  New people moved into her old house, but they had dogs. Big dogs and none of them liked cats, so the people would turn the dogs loose on this kitty to “chase her away” (from her former home).

Piper had been a mommy–approximately eight times in 5 years and had given birth to over 30 kittens, I was told. Unfortunately, the new owners of her old home, where she would be compelled to give birth time after time, were not fond of baby kittens, either. They drowned each litter of kittens she had.  No one who tried had been able to trap her, though. Neither the nasty new tenants of her old house, nor the animal control department who it is said did try many times, as they sometimes do in cases of “problem ferals.”

The last couple of times she was “raped” by the big black Tom in the neighborhood she did not have kittens, but instead they were “absorbed” by her body which is ravaged and torn by her harsh life.

I fed her a couple times a day, but she has no teeth left, and a painful abscess on her lower face only allowed her to eat very soft canned pate cat food. I also give her KMR to drink, for the nutrients it gave her. She loved the KMR, but every so often, she emitted a little yowl from her mouth because she was in pain, every day. Sometimes she just sat and stared at the food, hungry and way too skinny and malnourished.  She waited for me to leave before she would eat.  Ahh, well… I sat there, and I talked to her, anyway, every day.

Her fur was matted and flea infested. She was miserable.    She hid, taking refuge inside the drain pipe most of the time, even at night she slept there amid hundreds of creepy crawly roaches who only come out at night. i shudder when I think of her being crawled all over. This had been the best-case scenario for her for 5 harsh years of her sad little life And even that must have seemed like be like heaven to her compared to how it was when it rained. Every time it rained, I thought of nothing but her plight.   I have witnessed this poor sick girl shuddering in the cold at night under cars with nowhere to turn, and I have worried for her life, many times.   She appeared more and more frail. I did not think she would survive another rainy winter there.

I had to trap her.  I HAD to get her.  I knew if I could catch her, my vet who is wonderful with ferals, would help her , and finally get her spayed, too, of course, so at least that violence will no longer be a threat to her.. After trying unsuccessfully for a few hours to trap Piper, my friend Laura and I decided to get help from some big guns.  WE convinced the Oceanside Fire Department to help us save this cat’s life.  Fire Dept. guys were REALLY nice, and agreed to help us “flush out” Piper, since nothing else had worked, and this was a desperate sitch. Unfortunately, Piper knew the tunnels in the drainpipe much better than I, and emerged from a side opening we had not anticipated. We found her again, and set to block all the possible entrances We blocked 7 holes, in all. But that would not be safe for her if she got stuck at a dead end with water coming at her.  So we pulled all of my (3) garage traps out, and set each up at a different corner, and recruited the neighbor kids (and their mom) to stand “guard”/play scarecrow at each dp exit.
We each, including the neighbors, were taking care of a sewer opening, but to have a better chance of getting her, we decided to put the firefighters to work at the traps. What a sight to behold! ha-ha   Two of them “relieved” the neighbor kids and were guarding the exits, so if she decided to go out one of them, we could get her. (There were 7 exits we had to either trap cover or block.)  Piper suddenly flew out of the main hole she always took her food at, and Laura skillfully closed up the trap. The guys were great help. Without them, and without Laura’s expert help, this could not have happened.  I grabbed a blanket and covered her up, but not before we all got some pictures. What a day; what a rescue!  But, poor little Piper… seems her Holiday Miracle was not as bright and purr~fect as it we thought.  My vet did blood work, gave her fluids for massive dehydration, and combo tested her She tested FeLV-/FIV+.   She stayed with me until the end of Dec, beginning of January, had all her teeth pulled out (stomatitis), lots of other work, and finally a friend in the rescue community offered to take her and work with her, before we found her a furrever home.  She is still with John, and she probably always will be.  They have bonded, and though it took over a year for it to happen, she finally is coming out of her shell.  It’s a miracle, I believe, and I am not a religious person!

 3rd- German Shepherd Rescue Orange County (LIBERTY)


Liberty and her three siblings were found beneath a bush in a rural high desert location.  A Good Samaritan discovered the litter during a hike and immediately contacted German Shepherd Rescue of OC for assistance.  All of the puppies were bald from demodectic mange, covered in parasites and suffering from severe dehydration, however Liberty was in the worst shape of all.  Individual volunteers fostered each of the puppies and provided them with daily medical care for 4 months to return them to good health.  Liberty required weekly medicated baths, injections of ivermectin, oral medications, deworming and topical parasite prevention.  Liberty’s care costs alone exceeded $1,000.  Following months of care, Liberty was adopted by a wonderful family and she is enjoying the puppyhood that she had been previously deprived of!

4th-Hands, Paws, & Hearts (DUKE)

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This is before picture of Duke (top), bloody and mangled, a bait dog, mistreated, found wondering the desert, he was malnourished, multiple bit wounds on his entire body, old and new, teeth were in horrible shape, had to be filed and some removed due to breaks probably from protecting himself or being forced to resort to eating rocks, common for starving dogs, his ear almost ripped off, multiple staples, stitches, and medication to ease the wounds.  Despite all this he came to us at Hands, Paws and Hearts initially on Humane Foster from Lancaster Shelter.  He came to our rescue and our home and showed the gentle soul he was, he loved to sit in our lap, he was great with all dogs, he even left the cats alone, over time he healed both his wounds and his spirits.  He loved stuffed animals, he loved to lay in the sun, he had not a mean bone in his body.  Once listed he found his soulmate, a young man who lived in Beverly Hills, although he had not had his own dog in the past he was drawn to Duke’s gentle spirit, now they are best friends.  Duke lives in Beverly Hills and often visits Santa Monica Beach off leash where he walks and plays with his daddy without incident, he goes to the groomers weekly to receive his spa day, he spends time with his grandparents at the beach.  He is a testament to the true nature of the American Pit Bull, despite the inhumane treatment at the hands of humans he has embraced love and kindness and now is an example of how truly magnificent this breed is given the chance, the respect, the loyalty, and the love they deserve.

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