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There’s a strong temptation when looking for a new pet to overlook the older animals available in shelters or from rescues: why adopt an animal whose history you don’t know when you can “start fresh” with a young pet? But for many people, the rewarding benefits of adopting pets in their golden years are worth any disadvantages.

Buffalo Dip the cat rules the other animals in his household with his outsized personality. But just over a year ago, when he was a 12-week-old kitten, Buffalo Dip was so sick that his family was ready to say goodbye to their new pet.

His owner, Ashley, who is a Client Care Assistant at CHFA, says adopting Buffalo Dip was a dream come true. She’d been wanting to add a cat to her household for a while when a client brought in a tiny kitten and told her its littermate was also available for adoption and offered to bring the kitten to her from Traverse City. When her initially reluctant husband finally agreed, she jumped at the chance. 

Dr. Nicholas Vito recently joined the staff at Cascade Hospital for Animals. A desire to help animals initially inspired Dr. Vito to become a veterinarian, but it’s his connection with people that makes his job most meaningful. “While practicing at the same location for six years, I had an opportunity to develop many lasting relationships,” he says. “And it was always that relationship piece that I valued most in my job. People invite you into an important aspect of their lives, and I strive to build upon the trust they put into me during every moment of every visit.” He’s excited to bring his knowledge, experience, and caring approach to the CHFA family!

At first, the homeless kitten seemed to have the odds stacked against him. On May 23, a passerby discovered him crying out in pain at the side of a road. Seeing he was in bad shape, the Good Samaritan scooped him up and took him to a nearby 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital, where the staff found he had five broken metatarsals in his left rear leg and a significant abscess in his right groin. They also found puncture wounds that suggested he had been attacked by another animal. 

Dr. Tracey Ritzman’s son Rohan had an unforgettable 10th birthday earlier this autumn. He went behind the scenes at the St. Louis Zoo, watched animal training and feeding, and even got some snuggles from a few of the animals—including Robbie, a 600-lb. sea lion who likes to toss frisbees around! Rohan got this opportunity because Dr. Ritzman participated in ExoticsCon 2019, an international educational conference for veterinarians who work with exotic pets and zoo animals.

Kayla knew something was very wrong with her newly adopted cat, Murray. Just a few weeks after she brought him home from the Humane Society of West Michigan this past June, he began vomiting everywhere and seemed to lose his appetite.

Owning a senior pet is a rewarding experience. It’s meaningful to watch your dog’s muzzle become grayer over the years as they mature from rambunctious, puppy-like behavior to being a calm, quiet canine companion. But the other side of senior dog ownership is seeing a beloved pet go through the natural challenges of aging: sore muscles and joints, more frequent illness, vision and hearing loss, and other health issues. When your dog is still loving life but having a tougher time getting around, your vet might recommend an appointment with certified canine rehabilitation nurse Emily Harkness at CHFA.

One morning, CHFA client Katelyn awoke to the unpleasant and frightening discovery that her cat, Alice, had thrown up in about seven different places all over the house. Even in her state of disbelief and worry, it didn’t take Katelyn long to connect the dots. She and her wife, Mette, had been painting the exterior of their home and left a paint brush in a bowl of water to soak it and keep it from drying out. At some point in the night, Alice, a member of the family since she was a kitten, must have ingested some of the paint-diluted water.

Summer is finally here and so are the mosquitos. But the scourge of our backyard cookouts and camping trips are more than just an annoyance. For pet owners and their canine companions, they can lead to a potentially deadly and certainly painful condition called heartworm disease. Brittny Taylor, a Client Care Assistant at Cascade Hospital for Animals, recently learned first-hand how difficult it can be to watch a beloved pet suffer from this terrible condition.

Having a parrot for a pet isn’t for everyone. In fact, if you ask parrot owner and enthusiast Tom Edwards, a long-time client of CHFA’s board-certified avian and exotic mammal veterinary specialist Dr. Tracey Ritzman, it’s not for most people. “It’s so much work that I try to talk people out of it...if after talking to me you still want to own a bird, you were meant to be a bird owner,” says Tom.