It’s easy to forget that the nonstop parade of mayhem, madness, and divisiveness we see on the news is not the whole truth. Maybe the network news execs believe that "if it bleeds, it leads," but I prefer "if it makes you go ‘awww,’ it leads." To that end, here are my seven favorite stories of the year.
On March 30, the Bangor Humane Society in Maine participated in the national Mega Match-a-Thon adoption event, which was sponsored by the ASPCA. By the time the shelter opened that morning, more than 90 people were waiting in line to find their next four-legged friends. The shelter had planned to stay open until 8 p.m. on Saturday and then be open for six hours on Sunday, but staff had to close the doors early because there were no more animals left to adopt.
Cuddly Catz, a Vancouver, WA-based animal rescue group, launched a program that places cats on "death row" because of behavior problems in foster homes with inmates at the Larch Corrections Center, a minimum-security prison in the town of Yacolt. The inmate participants are behaving better and gaining valuable work skills, and the cats are becoming adoptable — it’s good for everyone.
When Sue Vesta returned from a vacation, she was shocked to discover that about 40 cats, adults as well as kittens, had been abandoned on the front lawns of her and a neighbor’s Lake Worth, TX, homes. Instead of complaining, she took action: She trapped the cats and brought them to a low-cost spay/neuter clinic and had found homes for all but 12 of the cats at the time the story was written.
Sixteen-year-old Maga Barzallo Sockemtickem had been in Seattle Children’s Hospital for treatment of a complication arising from a bone marrow transplant. She missed her cat so much that artist in residence John Blalock sent out a call for cat photos via the hospital’s Facebook page. He got thousands of photos, and Maga got a three-hour slide show of cats, complete with a soundtrack of purrs.
Some landlords in California had required their tenants to have their cats declawed as a condition of rental. Early this summer, California state Sen. Fran Pavley introduced a bill to make this practice illegal. It passed the state Senate and Assembly, and on Sept. 26, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill and several other pro-animal measures into law. Now, landlords can no longer reject tenants who refuse to have their cats declawed, and they’re not allowed to advertise in a way that discourages renters whose cats have claws.
As New Yorkers locked things down in preparation for the incoming superstorm, Spencer Service, a 26-year-old park employee, looked out his window and saw a mother cat and a litter of newborn kittens huddled in the alley behind his building. Service put the little family into a carrier and walked nearly two miles to Sean Casey Animal Rescue to save the cats from the storm. The cats are doing fine, and Service said he plans to adopt one of the kittens when the bunch is ready to find homes.
After the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, Robin Olson and Sam Moore, who run a small nonprofit group called Kitten Associates, provided their traumatized hometown with a big dose of "kitten therapy" by opening their home-based rescue to children who needed a break from the pain and a reason to smile. Kitties for Kids was born. The program attracted national media attention, and people all across the country stepped up to support Kitten Associates’ wonderful work. It’s been a huge success so far: About 15 children have visited the kittens since I wrote this story, and they all left with smiles on their faces and plush cat toys in their arms.
Did I miss your favorite news story of 2012? Share the story and the link in the comments.