By Debbie Brame in support of St. Louis Pet Rescue

I have always considered myself to be a giving person. I attend church regularly and give my weekly offering. When my girls were young, I coached Upward Basketball at church for two years teaching 2nd and 3rd graders the importance of God’s message along with some basketball skills along the way. Each year I donate used clothing, household items, furniture, etc. to Goodwill Industries for Pete’s sake! But I don’t think I knew the true meaning of giving and was truly inspired to give both my money and my time until I became involved with St. Louis Pet Rescue (STLPR) and saw firsthand the multitudes of homeless animals in our communities that need help and subsequently the relentless number of hours spent by fosters and volunteers to help these animals find loving adoptive homes. It is the dedication and passion of STLPR volunteers and most importantly the loving animals we take into rescue who might otherwise have been left homeless or euthanized at local shelters that inspire me to give.

Now let me introduce two of our very special kittens named Deacon and Enid. Deacon and Enid’s family were rescued from a home in southern Missouri. This single parent family had taken in a pregnant stray cat and now needed help with “twisted leg kittens”. Lacking the necessary funds to cover their medical expenses, their only recourse would have been surrendering to an animal control; but STLPR stepped up to rescue this feline family. On the night of their arrival in St. Louis from Cape Girardeau, MO, all kittens received medical exams which showed all six to have upper respiratory infections (URIs), and all were deemed underweight. Sadly, the kitten with all four “twisty legs” passed while at the emergency vet’s office that night. X-rays on the remaining five revealed one kitten had normal bone structure, one kitten had a broken tail, one kitten had a broken dewclaw, and two kittens were missing radial bones and joints in their forearms. We named the latter two Deacon and Enid.

The medical term for their condition is Radial Aplasia, also known as Radial Agenesis. Radial Aplasia is an autosomal dominant congenital disease in cats. There is no therapy or treatment, but the missing bones are not believed to cause any pain. Deacon and Enid would just need to adapt and do things a little differently, and subsequently, their caretaker would need to make adjustments. For example, the missing radial bones in their forearms cause them to “army crawl”; and as a result, their forearms need to be watched closely for signs of sores or abrasions so that protective coverings can be fashioned if needed. Also, it is common for kittens missing radial bones to go down stairs backwards, and although you can lift them down from high places, carpeted ramps and cushioned floor landings are best near these “summits” since they will insist on climbing them when you are not around! Finally, while sitting upright, Deacon and Enid both sit on their hind legs almost as if in a kangaroo stance as do all other kittens with Radial Aplasia as well as those with Radial Hypoplasia (shortened forelegs).

Not all stories in rescue have happy endings, but Deacon and Enid’s story does. With extra tender loving care and proper nutrition, Deacon, Enid, and their three siblings grew healthy enough for spay/neuter, and all five were adopted along with their mother Mollee. One kitten was paired with another kitten in rescue, and the remaining four siblings were adopted in “sibling pairs”. Thankfully, Deacon and Enid, the two bonded “army buddies”, were adopted together. Their adoptive family loves them to pieces and are now thinking of taking on another special needs kitten who I am sure Deacon and Enid will gladly welcome into the family, albeit in their unique little kangaroo style!

Deacon and Enid are just two of the many special needs animals that STLPR has rescued this year, and I love that they are so willing to take on animals with special needs. Animals that need leg amputations, enucleations, reconstructive surgeries, etc. are not the exception for STLPR but rather the norm! Every animal that has a chance at having a quality of life deserves that chance, and STLPR volunteers will step up to foster the animal and participate in special fundraisers to raise the needed funds.

Why do I give or what inspires me to give? Deacon, Enid and the hundreds of other animals that come through our rescue each year inspire me to give my most invaluable commodity, my time. And you know what? In reality, it is me who receives the greatest gift, because the rescue animals give me that “special something” that adds purpose and value to my life; and in doing so, they help me to realize my self-worth!