HomeAnimal RescueCat sheltersshelter contractsCat Shelter Forcibly Repossesses Cat Adopted From Them Seven Years Ago


Cat Shelter Forcibly Repossesses Cat Adopted From Them Seven Years Ago — 65 Comments

  1. Our local SPCA adopted a cat to us. I noticed after a week that she seemed to be getting quite fat. I put it down to eating well but she just kept getting bigger. After having her for a little under two weeks I took her to our vet to be checked and spayed. The first thing she said was this cat is pregnant and ready to have kittens any day! I wouldn’t believe it until she did x-rays and showed me images of the five kittens! I called the shelter and told them they had given me a pregnant cat. Their reply from the man running the shelter was well did you get her fixed? I said no, I don’t believe in aborting a litter, esp that far gestated. I would happily do it when she was closer to weaning the litter. The conversation got very ugly after that with all kinds of threats citing my neuter contract I had signed, that it was MY fault she was pregnant (Not a math whiz that one) and surrender the cat and WE will fix her then re adopt her to someone else who WILL follow the rules. It was an ugly series of threats and calls for a time but she had them, I found them good homes and she was fixed. They must have lost interest because it all eventually went away. I don’t understand why some people get into animal protection if they can’t see the good from the bad anymore.

    • Thanks Tracey for your interesting story. I am going to make it an article. I’ll do it today. It might lead to a discussion by visitors. The shelter’s response was awful. Completely unacceptable.

  2. Laurel, getting Midnight back must be your best Christmas present ever.

    Lovely to hear a happy ending to this story and blessings to everyone involved who ensured Midnight was well cared for whilst away from home.

  3. God Bless You Elisa and Amy and everyone at St. Francis Rescue! I am getting Midnight BACK on December 30th due to others SNEAKING Puppies and Kittens into the Apartment Complex. The Complex had a change of heart and wrote a letter to St. Francis that I CAN NOW HAVE HER HERE! I am crying tears of JOY as I LOVE her and DID Cry Every Night and called for her every morning. This has been a rough almost 5 months, and St. Francis was kind enough to let me visit as often as I wanted to be with her and said they will help with food and kitty litter no Problem. This is going to be Me and Midnight’s BEST Christmas Ever!!! Thank you Elisa, I never heard of a fundraiser, but since all of Midnights things are gone including her cage for safety I really need It. I lost everything, but am more concerned with her safety as this complex is 92 years old. I have paid helpers and am almost finished getting it safe for my Baby. I know there is a GOD because i never thought this would happen. I was so depressed and now that is going too. God Bless everyone helping. I have a son and family and they need my help a lot too and my 3 year Grand Grand baby said she can’t wait to see Midnight in my place again!!!!

  4. I don’t know whether it would help to have Laurel comment or not because her feeling seem to have changed since day 1. The first threads of where she had to surrender her cat told of her crying and very upset Puffy Paws hadn’t been able to care for Midnight since she couldn’t. She even gave some cat toys to Puffy Paws so she had at one time hoped they’d take over. But it’s like I said, St. Francis got Midnight the help she needed and now Laurel is allowed to visit Midnight and that changes perception. Plus anything against St. Francis at this point could take away her right to visit. I basically wrote this because its in about every rescue and shelter contract I’ve seen than a rescue can repossess a cat at any time if they believe the cat isn’t being cared for. People need to be warned there’s not a time limit set on it. My hometown shelter used to be able to repo a cat if they paid a visit to the home and the cat was outdoors.

    Yes, Amy, there is a lot of blogging and talking back and forth going on here. I’ve done a few articles with more than 1000 comments. It makes it hard to keep up.

    My offer still stands if you ever need help raising funds for a cat. I post those to my other news site and its not a blog. Michael here has a lot of interesting topics and you can speak your mind here.

  5. It is not my place to comment on Laurel’s medical condition or her living situation. It is up to her to decide what information she does or does not want to divulge.

    I have not read any of Puffy Paws online posts so I cannot comment on what has or has not been said on them. Laurel has left a comment on our Facebook page that you are welcome to read if you choose:

    Quite honestly, while I mean no disrespect to anyone on this website, I’m not sure I understand the purpose of this whole conversation. It doesn’t seem to be intended to accomplish anything other than just to chat back and forth and give opinions/judgments. Maybe I just don’t understand the whole blogging concept. I did not even learn about the whole Internet controversy about Laurel and Midnight until one of my volunteers brought it to my attention on Friday evening and suggested that I address the matter.

    It is my understanding that many of you have never been to Puffy Paws or to our shelter for that matter. In fact, many of you do not even live in our state. The information you have comes solely from what you have read from the various parties involved. The Internet is a great source of information…but also an equal source of misinformation. Do not be so quick to judge either Puffy Paws, Laurel or St. Francis when all you have for “facts” is what you have read.

    I do not feel the need to defend our shelter beyond what I have already stated. I am comfortable that we have done exactly what Laurel has asked us to do and that Midnight is getting the best possible care that she can receive. If all of you want to continue to discuss this back and forth, that is certainly your right to do so. I’m not sure what that accomplishes, but what you do is your business.

    To be truly helpful in this situation would be to somehow find a way to help Laurel with her medical condition and find her an apartment that allows pets. Now THAT would actually accomplish something positive.


  6. The one we need to hear from is Laurel since there are too many conflicting stories.
    Did she, willingly, forfeit Midnight to St. Francis?
    Did she contact Puffy Paws herself? Or, did someone else?
    Is she moving into a “no pets allowed” apartment? And, if so, why?

      • You need to keep in mind this is the ONLY negative thing I’ve ever heard about St. Francis. To have been in business that long and not have more means they’re doing a good job. If they ever need a donation article for an individual cat needing funds I wouldn’t hesitate to do one. I like it they run a cage free facility.

        The thing I can’t get past is I did read all the Puffy Paws threads and Laurel commented several times about how she was devastated and crying, but not once did she say Puffy Paws wasn’t telling it right. If it had been me I’d had to have cleared the record and say that’s not how things went down.

        I’ve seen Puffy Paws donation records and they could have taken care of Midnight financially. These rescues operate as a business and do fundraisers. I help out a lot of them when contacted because a lot of the rescue business is having an online presence.

  7. Laurel requested that we take Midnight…we did not “seize” her. Once Midnight was returned to us by Puffy Paws AT LAUREL’S REQUEST, Midnight was immediately taken to our vet where she underwent emergency surgery for a tumor that was on her intestine. After spending a week at the clinic recovering from surgery, Midnight returned to our shelter yesterday, August 28th. Today, August 29th, Laurel spent at least an hour or so visiting with Midnight.

    We would be thrilled if Laurel could take her cat home with her. However, that is not possible due to Laurel’s own health issues and the fact that Laurel will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. We will continue to care for Midnight and pay for her medical needs until such time that we (or Laurel) can find a new loving home for Midnight. This is a perfect illustration why we ask that our cats be returned to us if the adopter can no longer care for them: We are a no kill, cageless shelter that will give every cat the medical attention that it needs regardless of the cost.

    Laurel’s medical expenses have already surpassed $1,000 and that will most likely continue to climb depending on any follow up treatment that she might need because of the tumor. I have not read, nor will I read, any of the posts that Puffy Paws has written about St. Francis. From the Facebook comments I’m reading, the stories from Puffy Paws sound like the rantings of a vindictive misinformed person who does not have the facts and prefers to spread lies and false accusations.

    Our shelter has been in operation for over 20 years. I invite anyone who is interested to contact me for a tour of our shelter to see for themselves the type of operation that we run. Then form your opinions based on facts…not baseless accusations and lies. Amy Berke, Shelter Manager

  8. Puffy Paws was willing to pay the bill until the other rescue demanded the cat be returned. Puffy Paws would also keep Midnight until her cat mom could take her back or forever.

    • That’s the way I understood it as well. The owner is having financial problems but Rick was willing to care for the cat and the bill until he was threatened with animal control being called in. There are ways of raising money. I help 3-4 animals a week who need a minimum of $600 for vet expenses. Turns out I’m good at spreading the word.

  9. Elisa, you’d asked my opinion. While it does seem very over the top, why didn’t anyone there try to help the owner with info or resources? At least the vet’s office could’ve told her about care credit at the very least. This wasn’t a huge bill so I’m just not sure over $195 why they’d demand her back. The problem is I’m guessing the owner handed her back sadly, instead of looking into the true legality of the contract. The whole thing seems very odd to me. Without talking first hand to both sides it’s hard to really understand how this got to that point. Once allowing St Francis to pay the bill and have possession of the cat, she made this much harder on herself. I feel really bad for the lady and the cat. Not sure if she was railroaded or is there cause ??? I feel a legal mediation is in order to hopefully do what’s right by the kitty.

  10. I really wish SFAR would turn Midnight over to Puffy Paws until Laurel gets back on her feet. I’ve had a lot of success with donation articles so we could raise money to repay the vet bill and move Midnight to Puffy Paws and pay her room and board until Laurel can take her back. This ain’t rocket science. Pledgers and animal advocates do this daily to have injured shelter pets pulled, treated and cared for. It’s just a matter of SFAR agreeing to this.

  11. Completely wrong, that is not what the contract says. As it says “If I am no longer able to care for this cat, I will make every effort to find it a good home. If unable, I will call SFAR to make arrangements to return this cat.” She did not withhold vet care, she was able to care for the cat and she sought out help. A financial bump in the road is not “no longer able to care for this cat”. Midnight needs to be returned, she needs to sue to get her cat back. This is bs, this is a money making scam, sell the cat and take the cat back, make another $200. Not a good rescue!

    • I like your interpretation. She should present the arguments on this page to the shelter and ask for her cat back. Also she could sue on the contract for the shelter’s breach of contract based on your interpretation.

  12. This sounds like if presented in front of a judge he would award the cat to return home to Laurel. My opinion is St. Francis Animal Rescue is just nit picking because she asked for help. Isn’t that what we are to do is help our community in need when needed?

  13. Many times pet owners are faced with with unexpected costs. This does not mean they should lose their pets! Mosts, times, advocates will set up fundraisers to help them. Is there anyway they would release this kitty back to the owner if funds were raised and they were reimbursed? And yes the bank honors the written amount, so the $199 amount was paid.

  14. This is sad. People run into financial problems sometimes (loss of job, sickness car bill). I worked with a few rescued organizations and there are some that talk down people.I have wanted to say get off your high and mighty soap box.

  15. Exactly which part of this contract did she breach? It says they can repossess an animal if she is found to have violated any of the terms of the contract, but if the story has been reported accurately, she has not violated any. From what I am reading here, she called the shelter to see if they could help with a medical bill, NOT to say she was giving up the cat. This lady needs to fight for her cat, and needs to pay the measly $195 back to these jerks so she and Midnight can be together again. Here’s a solution: band together, get some donations for the $195, pay it to the shelter, and say we want to adopt Midnight, then place the cat back with Laurel!

    • That’s the way I understood it from talking with Rick. I think it was all a scare tactic and I’m not sure if animal control was called to come out to the vet if they could have seized the animal. Since the rescue/shelter and Puffy Paws are both 501c3 it would seem this would be a matter for the courts to decide.

      I just don’t think the rescue should have acted this way. I’ve read up on them and they have an excellent setup. Cage free cat rooms, and from what I’ve read they really love cats. Sure doesn’t show it in this case.

      Laurel is trying her best to get Midnight back. She’s having some problems right now that won’t last long, so temporary foster would have worked for Midnight. This is just plain mean. And she IS crying herself to sleep every night.

    • She agreed to provide needed medical care, then reneged on the deal. The $195 was just the initial visit. The cat required surgery after that, which she also could not afford. If the cat had remained with the owner, it could easily have suffered and died from lack of needed veterinary care.

      • Yes, I wondered about the cost of surgery. It must have been much more than the $195. I still feel however that the cat’s owner should have been allowed to take charge of her cat rather than have her cat taken from her. There should be a time limit on when the shelter is allowed to repossess.

  16. Michael, what do you make of this contract’s wording and the subsequent actions taken? Was this legal?

    Note: looking at the invoice and checque above, it appears the checque was written for “One hundred-ninety-nine and 88/100” while the digital amt. is for $195.88. Was this check accepted by the bank? It appears it was from the backside ink. Sorry, just curious…

  17. I run The Animal Rescue Shop on Facebook. I have given thousands of dollars over the years to individual pet owners specifically to help them hang onto their pets in time of crisis. Cats and dogs need security. People lose their jobs, get evicted, endure medical crises and all sorts of situations that cause them to be unable to afford or care for their pets. We, as rescues and fundraisers, have a duty to do what is best for the animals. Keeping an animal with its loving owner is obviously the best solution. Temporary boarding would be second best and finally re-homing if absolutely necessary. There is no guarantee that the next home Midnight is placed in will be any better. It very well could be worse. And it definitely will be foreign.

  18. I wonder if the adoption contract holds up in this case as far as seeking financial help for cat care, outside your own pocket. The wording may make a difference here. Laurel was seeking medical help for Midnight. She is still able to provide a home for him.
    This is a rotten thing to do, and I question whether or not St. Francis Animal Rescue – (Gail Carson) could legally do what they have done with the repossessing of Midnight.

  19. I actually left a message to SFAR on FB but it turned out to be the wrong chapter. It appears to me that the people who run this particular chapter in Venice have gotten high and mighty with there animal benevolence and have forgotten the meaning of love. Helping Midnight with her health is awesome, but after seven years with the same owner, they do the cat a disservice by placing it with a new owner. The cat will never recover, nor I suspect will Laurel. They should be given a spot on the WALL OF SHAME.

  20. Puffy Paws would gladly have kept Midnight under their care until her owner could take her. From what I’m hearing animal control may not have been able to seize the cat even if SFAR ordered it. Anyone know the legality or was this just a scare tactic?

  21. I don’t know about this part of Floida but in New York the ASPCA had a program called Partners in Caring that could have subsidized Midnight’s care. This is such a sad sad story. There HAS to be a way to reunite Midnight and her owner for both
    their health.

    • I am crying myself to sleep every night missing Midnights tiny head on my cheek at bedtime. The worst part is we were living in a VERY healthy slumlord environment, Toxic Black Mold, Black and red ants, Mini centipedes that were biting Midnights head! I stopped paying rent to save for US to have a new place. The sad part is i was ready to be evicted and had to get her into hospital and Move out, leaving EVERYTHING behind. I had to take a NO PETS allowed apartment and I will never get over it. I just looked on SFAR page and she is ready for adoption!!!! There are tears on my bible and all of my friends know I took care of that cat better than some mothers take care of there own children, plus i cannot afford to take care of her anymore, and my new place is so small there is no room, no Lanai that she was used to when we lived in luxury community for almost 7 years. I WILL NEVER GET over this. I just hope she does not cry for me too! I am a Christian woman disabled and that was my companion and Baby. It hurts so bad.

      • Lauren I’ve had to give up cats too. You don’t get over it. You always wonder where the cat is and whether it misses you and whether that person is taking care of the cat. I hope you can get out to where you can one day care for another cat. I hate you’re losing her, even to visit, after everything that has happened. I feel the rescue will see she gets a good home but that really doesn’t make a person feel better 🙁

      • It’s now 2021, I’ve just read your story now, and you probably don’t have the cat anymore…but I must say that I question your honesty and truthfulness based on ONE thing you mentioned about living in a luxury community for almost 7 years, YET you called it a slumlord environment with black mold and biting centipedes. I guess the slum apartment worked out just fine for you, until you needed reasons to support your sob story. You’re a liar, and I hope you didn’t get your cat back.

  22. I was undecided on whether to name any names on this article because I don’t want Rick and his rescue facing any backlash. It would be interesting to call this rescue and see if you’re treated rudely or with respect. It would be nice for the rescue to show a bit of compassion and reunite this poor cat with her owner, who is beyond devastated.

    I just HAD to show off the main room at Puffy Paws. I want to go hang out with those cats. There are a lot of pics like this on their Facebook page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags allowed in your comment: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.