Huey Bruno was admitted to Red Door Animal Shelter in 2001. At six months old, he had already suffered more than most suffer in a lifetime. A few months earlier, he was abandoned at a 24 hour emergency clinic after suffering horrific abuse. His pelvis was shattered and the bones in his hind legs and lower spine were broken into pieces. He underwent emergency surgery and extensive rehabilitation, but because his injuries left him incontinent, he eventually ended up at Red Door.
Located on the far north side of Chicago, Red Door is a small, cageless shelter for cats, rabbits, and a few dogs. Huey's indomitable spirit, big personality, and general zest for life quickly made him a staff and volunteer favorite and a natural leader of the others cats (it didn't hurt that he was also HUGE). He never seemed to notice or care that his back legs didn't work like the other cats: he jumped higher, ran faster, and caused more trouble than all the other cats combined. Huey took great pride in outsmarting shelter staff, escaping the cat room into the cat-free office area, and stealing human food when no one was looking. He was a friend (and boss) to the other cats, welcoming newcomers and watching nobly as one by one they were adopted and he was not. Over the years, Huey's reputation and popularity grew and it was not uncommon for him to receive care packages from cat lovers around the city and postcards from neighborhood kids on summer vacation.
Huey embodied the spirit and hope of animal rescue. He never gave up, meeting each new day with enthusiasm and curiosity; he was always happy and confident in spite of ongoing medical issues from his painful past. If any cat deserved a home, it was Huey. But sadly, it was not meant to be. After twelve years at the shelter, Huey passed away in July 2013. He was surrounded by dedicated shelter staff and volunteers who loved him dearly.
Huey's courage and unbreakable heart live on in all who knew him. Even today, when life gets overwhelming and the load seems too heavy, I think of Huey. His determination, love of life, and unconquerable spirit continue to give me strength and even a few laughs.
Of course, Huey was one of the lucky ones. Although Red Door was not a real home, he was given the chance to live out his life with food, comfort, and safety - luxuries that millions of others never experience.
According to the ASPCA, approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide each year. Of those, approximately 2.7 million are euthanized (HSUS estimates it higher at 3.4 million). An animal is euthanized every 13 seconds in the United States (HSUS). These numbers only include cats and dogs and would be much higher if other companion animals, like rabbits (the third most popular pet in America), were also counted. In spite of such grim statistics, only 29% of Americans looking for a pet choose to adopt from a shelter or rescue.
Please take a moment to reflect on the millions of animals who lose their lives in shelters every year. In the five minutes it took to read this post, approximately 23 more animals were euthanized. This MUST change. Look within, dig deep, find your own inner Huey and make a difference today.
Nothing can dim the light which shines from within. Maya Angelou
Post a picture of your rescue pet on Instagram and Twitter with hashtags #RememberMeThursday and #RemembertheRescue from now through September 30 and enter to win $2,000 plus food and toys for your favorite rescue or shelter. Learn more about the contest here.
If you would like to make a donation to Red Door, the shelter that saved Huey and so many others, you can do so here.