On July 4, 2015, a New Jersey animal control officer responded to a call that would permanently affect his family’s lives. The owners had abandoned a lovely ginger cat on the side of the road in a terrible state. Initially, the animal control officer planned to take the feline to their local animal shelter. When they met face to face, though, everything changed…
George Gareis, an animal control officer, was taken aback when he first saw the cat. George realized that the unfortunate cat, eventually called Bruiser, had been in excruciating pain for far too long. After all Bruiser had gone through, he deserved a more caring atmosphere than the shelter. George took Bruiser home with him so that he and his wife, Barbara, could have a closer look at their new visitor.
Bruiser was obviously in bad condition, but there was a lot more going on behind the surface. “It was plain to see that he had been neglected, if not mistreated.” Barbara told us, “He had mangled ears and one pretty awful eye.” George and Barbara were adamant about getting Bruiser the care he needed. As soon as they could, the couple brought him to a veterinarian. They saw how unjust life had been to poor Bruiser there…
Barbara said, “The vet discovered that he was probably seven or eight years old at the time, had never been neutered, and had a serious infection in his ears and mouth.” They discovered that Bruiser was missing a few teeth and that his damaged eye was “dead.” Fortunately, the orange tabby still had a chance!
For Bruiser’s illnesses, the vet prescribed some strong medications. They also advised him to have surgery on both of his eyes. “His other eye had entropion, which meant his eyelashes were curled up and scratched his cornea, creating a lot of discomfort,” Barbara said. There was only one problem: Bruiser’s procedure was estimated to cost thousands of dollars.
They’d need assistance to pay for Bruiser’s operation. Barbara and her husband organized a fundraiser in the hopes that kind people would donate to Bruiser’s life-saving procedures. Thankfully, their fundraising efforts were a success! “In only a few days, we were able to raise $2500, and he was able to receive the operation and the medicine to clean things up,” Barbara explained.
Bruiser’s rehabilitation was still difficult to say the least after his surgery and therapy. They learned he was diabetic and FIV-positive, which meant they needed to take additional care. Despite the difficulty of the travel, lovely Bruiser persevered and handled it well. This tiny ginger kitty is a real fighter!
Barbara was overjoyed to see Bruiser emerge from his shell after he had regained his footing. “At first, he was clearly terrified… Barbara remembered him hiding at the rear of his box. However, after the worst was passed, he realized he was safe and in excellent hands. He warmed up to his foster home quickly, and he got along swimmingly with the couple’s other cats.
“He grew incredibly trustworthy after allowing us to touch him.” With the other cats, he grew quite friendly. “They became close to one other and would play together,” Barbara said. Barbara and her family didn’t take long to fall in love with Bruiser after that. They made one of the finest choices of their life at that point.
Barbara and her family had originally intended to foster Bruiser until he was well enough to be adopted. They already had too many resident pets and didn’t believe they’d be able to handle Bruiser’s long-term special demands. “I was putting some feelers out there,” Barbara said, “checking with some of my connections to see if anybody might take him in and give him a loving home.”
They continued their hunt for Bruiser’s new home, but in the end, they couldn’t envision life without him. “He grew quite connected to us,” Barbara said, “and we simply thought there was no way we could let him go at that time, so we ended up keeping him ourselves.” Bruiser is overjoyed with their choice, delighted to have found a forever family he can call his own.
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