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Ginny the Cat

A lost pet can be a trying and challenging experience for any animal owner. Many lost pet stories end in heartbreak, but the story of Ginny proves that a combination of luck, hard work, and determination can lead to a happy resolution.

 
Virginia, Ginny for short, was named after the home state of George Washington. Ginny was abandoned
by the creek in Valley Forge National Park and her sweet and shy demeanor immediately caught the
attention of the staff. Ginny spent her time snuggling into a pile of navy wool blankets inside a lifeguard
hut behind Washington’s headquarters. The park staff is full of animal lovers, including Kate, who cares
for and re-homes pets whenever possible. After taking in several strays and needing help, Kate reached
out to her friend Dona for assistance. Dona volunteered to babysit Ginny for a few days and their bond
was instantaneous. Ginny seemed standoffish at first, but became affectionate and loving and would
excitedly meet Dona at the door when she returned home each day. Ginny soon became a member of
the family and settled into her new home.

One rainy Monday in November 2014, Ginny greeted Dona and her mother Janice upon their arrival from
a weekend away. Ginny paced, walking back and forth as luggage went into the house. When Dona
called Ginny to come back inside, she bumped her head twice on the storm door and ran off. The
strenuous search for Ginny began immediately. Valley Forge National Park’s slogan reads “determined
to persevere”–which is exactly what Dona and her family did. Dona spoke to everyone she could, asking
for advice on how to find a lost pet and vowed to stop at nothing until she came home. In a stroke of
good fortune, she contacted a private investigator who happened to be nearby and agreed to come out
and help. Jamie Katz specializes in reuniting lost, missing and stolen pets with their families with the aid
of her scent specific tracking dogs, Fletcher and Gable.

They created scent packs using objects with Dona’s scent, and left food, beds and litter boxes around the
neighborhood. The community came together in the search– the local Staples printed signs and posters
at a discounted price, neighborhood children volunteered to help after school, Dona created a Facebook
page titled “Bring Ginny Home” and Jamie sent out a pet Amber Alert. Fletcher, the smallest of Jamie’s
scent dogs, played a crucial role in Ginny’s return. While most cats typically work in a triangular or star
pattern, Ginny functioned more like a dog, walking up and back alongside the creek at the edge of the
neighborhood. “Water is home for her. She was dumped where the Valley Creek met the Schuylkill, so I
know the creek seemed familiar to her” said Dona. Fletcher stopped at a small bush near the water and
was confident that Ginny had been there. Once the dog picks up the scent, Jamie asks the property
owner if they can take a look around for clues. Her neighbors agreed for the most part. “There were two
people that wouldn’t let us on their property. One just didn’t want to and the other was feeding strays and
didn’t want us to scare them off”, Dona explained. Jamie and Dona came up with a plan to set 3 traps
around the neighborhood. Due to the weather and circumstance, the traps needed to be checked every 2
hours. A few neighbors kindly agreed to check them for her and report back.

Ginny Cat Map Sightings

Ginny Nightcam

The investigation continued for weeks. Dona’s wedding was scheduled during the middle of the
heartbreaking search. “You’ve never seen a couple more sad on their wedding day. Of course we were
happy to be getting married, but we felt sad and lost without Ginny”, Dona explained. As time passed,
Dona got a call from her neighbor Jill stating that she had seen strays and a Ginny look-alike roaming her
nearby farm. Jill agreed to set up traps around her property and Dona put food, a litter box, and a bed in
the barn in the hopes of attracting Ginny. She also purchased a night vision camera to record the night’s
events and snapped a photo that would change everything. The footage provided a sense of relief, but
the next few nights proved to be discouraging for all. “Ginny would go into the trap to grab the food, but
managed to escape before it closed her in”, Dona frustratingly explained. After further devising a plan
and continuous days of trial and error, Dona’s hard work paid off.

54 days after getting lost, Ginny was caught and finally reunited with her family. At less than half her
weight, Ginny was famished, scared, and came to Valley Veterinary Hospital to recover. The doctors
and staff quickly stepped in to provide the necessary care and attention. Ginny received fluids, vaccines,
blood work testing, and medicine to stimulate her appetite and increase her weight.

Dona, her husband and her mother were ecstatic to have Ginny back home. “It was a long sad time
without her, and we are so thankful she is safe.” Since then, Ginny has settled back into her routine, but
has started creating unusual patterns with her toys. “She takes these styrofoam balls of various sizes and
puts them into deliberate patterns and shapes. It’s like a work in progress. She will work on them for
days at a time then leave them around the house for us to enjoy. She will mess them up if she catches
me taking a picture but sometimes I am lucky enough to capture them” says Dona.

Ginny Cat Toys

Valley Veterinary Hospital is proud to be part of this happy ending.

With kennel cough, an untreated skin condition and a bad case of wanderlust, Bruno was not an easy sell at a Philadelphia shelter. But Jon Schell saw something extraordinary in the handsome pit bull. The problem was convincing his girlfriend, Katie.

“I sent a picture of him to Katie and she said, basically, whatever you do, do not bring that dog home,” says Jon. So just how he ended up in their Audubon home is still something of the mystery of love. Once Katie met Bruno her hesitation vanished and her heart melted. Bruno knew how work his magic. The big, playful pit was one of the family.

“When we adopted him he was not vaccinated and not housetrained,” says Jon, 39. “Dr. Shreiber got him up to date with everything in early January 2015. He was absolutely fantastic. He and his whole staff are amazing.” (more…)

Flea-bitten and very thin, the little dachshund was in need of extreme care. Linda Herman, an analyst who lives in Phoenixville, first learned about her story from friends on Facebook. Sweet Pea 2

“Apparently she had been living with a family and when the parents were not paying attention the children tossed the dog down a laundry chute,” says Herman. The young dog suffered a severe spine injury and was left in a crate in a misguided effort to heal. That’s when Home Sweet Home Again Rescue came into the picture. The family thankfully agreed to surrender the dachshund named Sweet Pea. They dropped off the sickly, injured dachshund in a tiny box. (more…)

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Cyrus, a lab-pit cross, is reunited with his family in Northeast Philadelphia after Valley Vet receptionist, Ashley Foresta, worked with her rescue to get him home safely.

This is the story of Cyrus, the luckiest dog, with a tale to tell. Thanks to Valley Veterinary’s receptionist, Ashley Foresta, her rescue City of Elderly Love, and a network of caring volunteers, Cyrus is now home and safe after an incredible journey.

Cyrus, a 12-year-old pit and lab cross, was not microchipped and had no collar when he got frightened by fireworks on his Northeast Philadelphia block. He slipped out the front door. Before his family could corral him, someone on Souder Street called the city animal shelter who delivered Cyrus to the facility. When no one claimed him, he was scheduled for euthanasia. The shelters are so overwhelmed by dogs, euthanasia is an unfortunate daily reality. (more…)

These baby rabbits were dropped off at our office Monday morning.

Please share this ‘nature note’ with your neighbors. Though it is not uncommon to come across wildlife while doing yard work, generally the best practice is to leave them alone.

“While baby rabbits may appear abandoned, the opposite is usually true,” says Dr. Shreiber. “The mother rabbit nurses babies for only a short time, at most several hours a day. Since she cannot defend them against predators, they are kept hidden, safe, and protected from dehydration from the sun in their hidden nests.”

Though we know intentions are good, it is best to leave baby rabbits alone. This is often their best chance for survival. If you do find wildlife, or have questions, call our office and we can direct you to best organization. These little cuties were brought to the Schuylkill Wildlife Center in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia and are doing fine. 

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Valley Vet has been as fantastic about handling our TNR cats as they have been with our indoor ferals,” says Jean.

 

Jean and Steve moved into their house with three cats of their own. But soon they noticed a few visitors. A population of feral cats was living in the woods and a nearby cemetery. They often wandered into their yard. “We began feeding one of the cats,” recalls Jean. “But we weren’t completely sure we wanted to take her in.” Soon enough, the stray made the decision for them. She brought a few extra paws, too. The mama stray returned with her kittens. (more…)

June 26, 2015 is National Take Your Dog to Work Day 

Gracie getting ready to go outside in the cold.

Dressed and ready to get to work!

There are so many benefits to working with your dog. If you’re lucky enough to work with your dog tomorrow, or any day, please send us pictures. Tell us your favorite thing about going to work with your dog. Dr. Shreiber brings both of his dogs, Cosmo and Gracie, into the office every day. “From an anthropology point of view, mankind has a long history of taking dogs to work,” says Dr. Shreiber. “Farmers and shepherds have always had their faithful working dogs alongside them. Having your dog at work celebrates this natural historical bond. Your dog will benefit from having more time with you, and by taking a lunchtime walk with your dog, you will enjoy the benefits of your canine companion and some outdoor sunshine and exercise.”

How a senior border collie inspired a retired aerospace design engineer and forged a beautiful friendship

When Ray Lisiewski agreed to take in an 8-year-old border collie named Ashley he had no idea how she would change his life.

Ray and Ashley, a great team.

Ray and Ashley, a great team.

 

(more…)

RangerRanger spent the first years of his life living on a rooftop in Jordan. The building owner thought a watchdog would keep neighborhood kids away from his property. He chained the shepherd mix to a post and his life was contained to the small, cement roof. (more…)

Hoodie made himself comfortable very quickly.

Hoodie, seen here asleep next to Sasha, made himself comfortable very quickly.

When Joe Nattle started up his Toyota Highlander all seemed perfect. He left the driveway of his Phoenixville home to meet his wife, Debbie, at his mother-in-law’s house in Royersford.

That’s when a typical drive last September turned very unusual.

“He started to hear what he thought was a cat meowing,” says Debbie. Joe pulled over to the side of the road to call his wife. “But every time he stopped the car, the sound of the cat stopped. He looked inside the hood, under the car, and couldn’t find anything.”

Bewildered, and yet confident that he was not imagining the sound, Joe had no choice but to continue to the house. He would switch on the radio and the mewing would stop. Turn off the radio, and the crying would start again. By the time Joe arrived, Debbie, Debbie’s mother and brother and a group of neighbors had gathered on the sidewalk to meet him.

“When he got there, everybody was looking and we opened the hood and sure enough this little kitten popped its head up, he was right underneath the window washer fluid,” says Debbie. The buff and white tuxedo cat with four white paws had just a smudge of grease on his nose.

“There wasn’t a scratch on him,” says Debbie. “We couldn’t believe it. I scooped him up and we got him some food.”

Debbie and Joe have a young son, Trey, and they already had a 17-year-old Himalayan named Sasha.

The couple had been talking about getting another cat, but this wasn’t the way they thought it would happen.

“You could tell he belonged to someone,” says Debbie. “We called the SPCA, all the vets and we put posters up to see if we could find his owner. We had him scanned for a microchip, anything we could think of, but nobody claimed him.”

By this point the little intruder had made himself at home, following Joe around the house and launching play attacks. “He’s very social and he’s a terror, too,” says Debbie. They brought the kitten to Valley Veterinary to have him examined. “We have been going to Valley Vet for 17 years,” says Debbie. “I just love Dr. Shreiber. He’s taken care of my cats. I trust him with Sasha. He’s always been there. He gets you in when you need an appointment.”

It wasn’t too hard to come up with a name for the wayward kitten, she says. “We named him Hoodie,” says Debbie. “It just seemed to fit.”

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