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When Beauregard McGee was found and taken to a North Philadelphia shelter, he tested positive for the Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). Previously, his life would have been at risk because of this disease. Luckily for Beauregard, the Get ‘em Home Challenge had just begun, and Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) was kicking off two programs that would enable them to rescue more cats just like him!

Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) focused on two groups of pets who routinely have longer shelter stays: cats with ringworm and cats who have FeLV. Prior to the Challenge, pets who had ringworm weren’t made available for adoption until after they were given the all-clear, which resulted in long stays. By making these cats available for adoption during treatment they could not only shorten their length of stay, but the pets could be treated while living in their forever homes.

“We were inspired by our participation in a Maddie's Fund apprenticeship at Austin Pets Alive!, where they had programs up and running for FELV and ringworm cat adoptions,” says Sara Schoenleber, Grants Manager at PAWS. “For ringworm cats, adopters can bring the cat to our clinic free of charge post-adoption for skin testing, medication, and dips until they are confirmed clear. For FeLV cats, the adoption fee is waived and PAWS commits to providing basic clinic care for the duration of the cat's life.”

Creating the Programs

In order to create the programs, PAWS staff had to do several things. First, they needed to determine what medical services and treatments they could provide to adopters at their clinics at no cost. “We knew we needed to offer extra support to make adopting these special cats more approachable and manageable,” says Schoenleber. “Yes, it's extra expense, but much of it is cost we would have incurred anyway were the cat to stay in the shelter for the duration of its treatment.”

Next, they needed to decide how they would communicate about it with the public and potential adopters so they could ensure transparency without scaring people unnecessarily. “We try to talk about their conditions in terms of what their needs are and what daily life with them will be like, instead of labeling in ways that sound daunting or less desirable,” says Schoenleber.

The Results

The hard work PAWS did to decrease length of stay had a major effect on the length of stay for both cats and dogs. The organization started the challenge with 11 dogs and 190 cats whose length of stay was over 30 days. By the conclusion of the Challenge, 48 dogs and 653 cats with shelter stays of over 30 days had been adopted!

Saving More Lives

PAWS is using the funding they were awarded to help them rescue even more of these cats. “The grant is making a big impact by helping with the increased costs of veterinary care that come with caring for FELV and ringworm cats,” Schoenleber tells us. “It's helping us provide clinical care in our shelters, and also offer post-adoption care as an extra level of support for our adopters.”

PAWS hopes other organizations with the capacity to save more lives can learn from their experience and follow their lead. “We'd encourage any shelter with the ability to provide basic veterinary care in-house to explore ways to responsibly move up the timeline for making animals with manageable conditions available for adoption. Administering meds and coming in for vet checkups are all normal aspects of owning a pet, and not too much to ask of an adopter (particularly when it's included with the adoption fee). Another important thing we realized is we send cats with medical needs home with fosters all the time, and if foster parents can handle it, adopters can too. Just make sure you have the staff capacity to provide the extra guidance and support that may be necessary to set the adoption up for success.”

A New Life for Beauregard

As for Beauregard McGee, he was transferred to PAWS and went into foster care, where he thrived and his personality blossomed. After two months with PAWS, he found a loving home with an understanding adopter who was happy to care for him.

His mom, Amy, told PAWS, "I am so grateful that PAWS gave this FELV+ boy a chance at happiness. He met with his future mom and she loved his affectionate, spunky, food-obsessed personality…he will never have a shortage of laps, food or costumes ever again!"

Schoenleber says, “There's someone out there for every shelter cat, even ones with FeLV! People have unique situations just like shelter cats do, and for some, the animal that seems "undesirable" to most will be a perfect fit for someone else…or, they simply may want to help the most in need and will open their hearts and homes to a cat with special needs, if we give them the opportunity.”


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  • July 29, 2019 at 09:20 AM

    He's adorable!

  • July 25, 2019 at 03:36 PM

    Can you please share how you get the photo embedded in the post rather than added on as an attachment?


    • July 26, 2019 at 09:55 AM

      Hi @Kelly Smith! To insert an image into your post or your comment, just click on the image icon in the toolbar:

      Then you'll select the image on your device, choose how you want to crop it to insert it into the post or comment and select Upload.

      Hope that helps! Give it a try and let us know if you have any questions! smiling cat-face-with-open-mouth

      • July 27, 2019 at 05:42 AM

        So I only see the forum that way on my mobile and then it freezes and never finishes uploading. When I'm on my PC, the above toolbar isnt there/visible....its only an attach file button that adds it as an attachment rather than embedding it.

        • July 30, 2019 at 02:54 PM

          Thanks for reporting this, Kelly. We apologize for the inconvenience -- you're right, Inserting images isn't working as designed. Our developers are working on a fix.

          You said the post editor toolbar isn't visible when you're on your PC? Which browser are you using? It should be visible at the top of your discussion/reply box. If you're not seeing it, I'll report that to our developers as well.

  • July 24, 2019 at 08:28 AM

    Maybe someone tell me why , a few months ago I rescue a couple of cats ( 1.5 months) , we made the FeLV, and came possitive in one of the cats, in the quick test, we made blood tests and alll the levels were ok, so we wait 2 months and made new tests, and this came negative, ¿how it Will be possible?

    • July 24, 2019 at 12:50 PM

      Often times, the initial test will yield a false positive. Alley Cat Allies says:

      ...FeLV tests can provide inconclusive results:

      • A cat in the initial stage of FeLV infection may test negative.
      • A cat exposed to FeLV may test positive during the transient phase of the infection and then test negative if the virus is overcome.
      • Tests are not 100 percent accurate and can yield false positive results.

      Here are a few documents that may give you some insight on how that may happen:

      UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine: Why are some shelters no longer testing all cats for FeLV and FIV?

      Alley Cat Allies: Protocols -- Don't test for FIV and FeLV

      • July 30, 2019 at 06:54 AM

        Thank you for the information, I read it and now I understand more, thnak you.

        • July 31, 2019 at 10:54 AM

          You're welcome! Glad the test ended up coming back negative for your kitty after all. :)

          • August 03, 2019 at 02:57 PM

            Thank you, :)