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Rescues Have So Much Love to Give & They All Deserve a Chance

In Arizona, specifically Maricopa County, there is overpopulation in shelters that can lead to the animals being put on the euthanasia list.

Dee Alschuler, Executive Director of Lucky Dog Rescue, commented, “when the dog hits the county system they only have so many days.” If the shelter is overpopulated and they do not get adopted within that specified period of time, then they go on the euthanasia list.

According to the Arizona Pet Project, “Pet overpopulation is a huge problem in Maricopa County. It has been for many years. Although we are No. 6 in city size, we have the second highest euthanasia rate in the country.”

Lucky Dog Rescue is a local non-profit organization that rescues dogs off the euthanasia list in shelters with high euthanasia rates in the Phoenix metro area. An example of one of their rescues is a conjoined pair of ten-year-old dogs called Jesse and Jake.

Lucky Dog Rescue Assistant Director, Nicole Bowman, told us, “They were supposed to go to a county shelter in Tucson that really would not have meant a very long life for them and it would certainly not have been a good life for them.” She then talked about how they were rescued into a loving foster home and are now being “treated like the kings and queens they are.”

All in all, it is becoming increasingly important to adopt in Arizona so that sweet dogs like Jesse and Jake can find their loving, forever homes.

Something people need to realize is that it’s not just dogs but also cats that face the issues of overpopulation and high euthanasia rates in these shelters.

La Gattara Cat Lounge and Boutique located in Tempe, AZ, is Arizona’s one and only Cat Cafe.

Cat Cafes first appeared in Taiwan and became popularized in Japan. Over the past few years, Cat Cafes have become popular in the United States with at least one Cat Cafe located in each major city across the U.S.

Unlike traditional shelters, the lounge is unique because it is built specifically for the cats and allows them to roam freely and live as happily as they like. All of the cats within the establishment are all rescues and are up for adoption. Fun cat-related events are frequently being held at the lounge; such as Caturday yoga with cats, Drag Bingo and cats, Friday night Mewvie nights, Comedy & Cats, Paint Nights and Cats.

Lauren Doyle, Yoga Instructor and Yoga Therapist at La Gattara, said that her favorite part about teaching yoga at La Gattara is,“seeing all the cats that come in and then get homes because you build relationships with the ones that stay here longer so when they leave you’re so happy” that “you get to see them start their new lives.”

Lauren Doyle also mentioned that, “sometimes you see adoptions happen right in front of you and that’s beautiful that you got to witness them meet their new mom or dad and that’s really sweet”.

La Gattara is now at their 312th adoption and is approaching their two year anniversary on May 16, 2019, since opening in 2017. When guests walk into the lounge, one of the first things they see is the adoption wall with photos of all the cats that found their forever homes. Roughly 30 cats are in the cafe at a time and they cycle through; once one gets adopted, another cat enters the cafe.

The owner, Melissa Pruitt, is also very active across all of La Gattara’s social media pages. She stated that “As soon as I post even our stories the Instagram stories as soon as I post a cat on there they’ll be in here that day to visit that cat” she then went on to say that the exposure on social media “brings a lot of attention to us so that the cats find homes.”

A strategy that Ms. Pruitt uses to help the cats that have been there longer is that “sometimes with cats that have been here a long time we build their own page so that way they can have their own thing where people can follow them and share.”

People will often surrender their pets for economic reasons if they cannot afford surgical procedures. So Ms. Pruitt will often use social media such as Instagram pages for individual animals to help them with GoFundMe campaigns.

Bunny the kitten is an example of a long term cat, due to her special needs. When La Gattara found her, both of her legs were crippled. So the owner Melissa Pruitt fostered Bunny for the past six months and started a GoFundMeto cover the surgical procedures so that she can get both of her legs removed.

But that hasn’t stopped her from being the fastest kitten. In fact, she is the happiest kitten now that she is a purr-maid free of her back legs. “Bunny is my kitten that we have been fostering for about six months and now she’s a mermaid because she doesn’t have her last back two legs  but she’s literally the fastest kitten and it doesn’t stop her one bit.” Bunny shows us that pets with disabilities still have so much love to give and aren’t as limited in abilities as some might think.  

Charlie Chaplin (pictured above) is the only cat that lives in the cafe permanently, but that’s not how it’s always been. Ms. Pruitt told us the story of how she found him,

“We found him at a bar in Downtown Phoenix – like three years ago at an event and he was emaciated he was disgusting and horrible and then  we were like alright we’ll get him TNR (short for Trapped, Neutered, and Returned) and we’ll see what’s going on and we took him and they were like he’s probably 11-years-old and he’s got kidney failure he’s going to die but he was so lovable so I was like okay I’ll keep him until then and that’ll be fine I’ll give him the love until he dies, that was three years ago,” said Ms. Pruitt. 

“I equate him to a baby that was born dead but then when the mom holds them they come back to life. I know it sounds cheesy but I really feel like that’s what happened to Charlie. He just got so much love and he gives so much love that it’s just like you know, love wins,” said Ms. Pruitt.

Bunny and Charlie are examples of how far love can go when you give animals a chance. That’s why rescues and adoption are so important; because it gives animals like these two a chance that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

The combination of the cat events, constant social media presence, local community support, and Ms. Pruitt’s genuine passion and love for the cats and her business have helped tremendously with getting all of the cats into loving homes when they cycle through the lounge.

Melissa Pruitt, the owner of La Gattara Cat Lounge and Boutique, said that the average adoption time period of each of the cats is “so different we’ve had a cat that got here yesterday that got adopted yesterday and then we’ve had a cat that’s been here for 439 days and then she got adopted and found her perfect home and sometimes that happens.”  

CJ (pictured above) is the perfect example of this because she’s been in the La Gattara for 400+ days but earlier this month, on Sunday, April 14, she was adopted. The family that adopted her are regulars for Bingo nights at the cafe and over the course of a few months, CJ stole their hearts. She is now happily enjoying her forever home with her new family.

What makes the La Gattara adoption process unique is that,

“You can just come and hang out or you can come and adopt. The cool thing about it is that you come to know the cats and you don’t feel obligated like if you go to a shelter and they are in a crate and you’re like oh I feel bad I need to take this cat. Here they’re living a pretty good life here obviously they would be so much happier in a home but you can come to know them and their personalities and connect that bond,” said Melissa Pruitt.

Rescues have so much love to give so if you’re in the market for a four-legged furry best friend consider adoption.

Visit https://phxpetguide.weebly.com/ to learn more about where and how to adopt in the Phoenix metro area.


All photos in this article were shot by the author Angel Jimenez.


Angel Jimenez studies Journalism at Arizona State University with a minor in Studio Art. She is passionate about storytelling and pays great attention to her work. Angel's other hobbies include creating art. In her free time, she loves to drink a cup of coffee or hot chocolate with her friends.
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