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Maintaining the Bond

An innovative HSUS program keeps pets and their people together

Beth Adelman never met the middle-aged tabby who wasn’t using the litter box, the elderly white cat who started howling at night, or the exuberant youngster who attacked his owner’s ankles. Her fellow volunteers haven’t met them either. And that’s the way she likes it.

For Adelman, success is measured by the number of pets who don’t show up at the intake desks at New York City’s animal shelters—pets like the “evil” cat whose frustrated owner was ready to give up the animal because she’d scratched him. By the end of his conversation with Adelman, the owner had a new perspective. “He had recently found the cat at a gas station, and he didn’t know her personality at that point,” Adelman says. “The cat was angry at a strange cat she’d seen out the window, and he happened to get in the way. Once he recognized the reasons for her behavior, he totally got it.”

Adelman, a cat behaviorist, is one of many professionals who donate their services to Pets for Life New York City, an HSUS pilot program dedicated to helping people resolve problems that otherwise could lead to surrender, abandonment, or neglect of their animals.

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