This is the third in a series of guest posts from Elisa Leyva-Guerrero about pet fostering and pet adoption.
If you have ever fostered or volunteered for an animal rescue there is always the first one. You know, the one that made you forget about your nights and weekends and drove you into animal rescue world. This is the story of my first one. This is the story of the first animal, a cat, who influenced me more than ten years ago to become an activist and animal volunteer.
It was a cold night in November of 1999 back in my hometown of San Luis Potosi in central Mexico. My family was coming back from our usual movie outing. As our family was making its way in to the house I heard a cat and I ran to the door.
To my surprise there was a kitten on our front porch. I said "Dad, there’s a cat in the front yard". My Dad promptly ignored me. I tried to give the kitten milk but it did not want anything to do with us and ran quickly away.
There used to be a fenced-in car lot right in front of our house and unfortunately that’s where the kitten ran to. The whole night I thought about the kitten and in the morning when I was leaving for my classes I heard a very strong “Meoow, Meoooow” from the car lot.
My friend Kathya and I searched the lot and finally realized that the sound was coming from inside a car! Fortunately for me my friend Kathya is a mechanic.. yes! She opened the car’s front hood like a pro and found the kitten trapped inside the motor. She very skillfully removed the kitten and we took it inside the house.
Soon we left it in the back yard with a little box, some human food and milk. When my dad got home from work I said "Dad, there’s a cat in the back yard". His immediate and forceful reply was "I DO NOT want animals in MY house". He said that I had two weeks to find THAT ANIMAL a home.
Neither one of my parents grew up with pets and my sister and I had only had fish, turtles and chickens as pets. I knew there would be reluctance on the part of my parents to have a kitten in our home. To tell you the truth because I had never had a cat I was actually afraid of the kitten. I would try to play with it but would get scared if it would try to climb on me. You can imagine how strange it seemed for a 17 year old to be afraid of a kitten! I was clueless but started asking a vet that was a friend of the family for advice.
The day I gave the kitten a name I decided it was not going anywhere EVER. I named her Pikachu, after my favorite Pokemon cartoon characters :). I stood my ground every time my Dad brought up her departure and quite frankly I don’t know what made him change his mind. Perhaps it was my new found sense of responsibility but my Dad eventually stopped asking me to look for homes for her and instead made us get her spayed.
Spay/Neuter and animal overpopulation was one more thing I was clueless about then. But my Dad knew about spay/neuter and he made a great decision by making it a priority and also a condition on Pikachu staying in our house. I must admit I begged him to not force us to get her spayed so soon because I wanted her to have kittens. He said no and booked her surgery appointment. His decision made me open my eyes and realize the truth about animal overpopulation, especially in third world countries.
All that happened 11 years ago. In the time that followed Pikachu managed to convert my Dad and our whole family into cat people even though she had a mean diva attitude. From day one she conquered our home and made it her own kingdom.
After adopting Pikachu I joined a rescue group and have been a member of one or another ever since. She is the reason why I started learning and volunteering in animal rescue. She is The One. The first animal to influence me in this way. I never wanted another kitten to be abandoned, to be trapped in a car, a dog to pass away unnoticed, a person to not think their dog or cat deserved shelter, no more.
Animal Rescue People are not born they are made. It's a matter of taking the leap, following your heart and where you will one day find The One.