By Emily Beauprey

Helping a homeless animal can start with the smallest of kindnesses – or with something as simple as a missed bus.

For SAS Humane Law Enforcement Manager Ann Graves, that missed bus meant driving to work early one morning and arriving before the shelter opened. Given the hour, she was surprised to find a worried-looking gentleman standing in front of the shelter. He was clutching a box containing an injured kitten he’d found outside his Ballard shop. He didn’t know of any vets open so early and was desperate to help the kitten. Ann recounts, “I could tell the kitten was badly injured, so I brought [the gentleman] into the lobby and told him I would take the kitten in and see what I could do for it.”

The gentleman’s first concern, says Ann, was for the kitten’s well-being. “He seemed hesitant and wanted to be sure [the cat would] get a home. I assured him that if the kitten made it, he would be adopted into a good home, [and] that we interview all of our adopters to make good matches.”

Ann made a quick inspection of the kitten and realized that he was in critical condition. She rushed the kitten across the street to Elliott Bay Animal Hospital, where a veterinarian made the sad pronouncement that, given the severity of the kitten’s injuries, humane euthanasia was the necessary choice. “The little guy left this world quickly,” recalls Ann, “with three of us stroking his little body and sending him with love and compassion.”

From loss comes a new beginning

The story, however, doesn’t end there. Later that afternoon, Ann received a call from the man who had found the cat. “I felt bad that I had to tell him the kitten didn’t make it,” she says. “To my utter surprise, he said that was sad, but he was quite happy, as he had just left the shelter after dropping off three littermates he had caught!”

It turns out that when the man had gotten back to his shop, he saw three more kittens in a nearby alley. To catch them, he constructed a “box-and-string” trap baited with cat food. The trap worked like a charm. And this time, the man knew just where to take his tiny charges. Although they were malnourished and flea-infested, the kittens were thankfully unharmed. Named Rikki, Rosie and Ruby by SAS staff, the kittens turned out to be sisters – an anomaly, since orange tabby cats tend to be male. With some TLC from the staff, it didn’t take long before the sisters were healthy, happy and placed into forever homes.

Says Ann, “I think what touched me the most about this whole thing is that [the shopkeeper] cared enough to try to help the kitten in the first place, that I was able to convince him so strongly [that SAS] is a good and safe place for the animals, and that he went out of his way to capture the others and brought them straight to us.”

Ann’s aid to the kitten that morning served not just to earn his finder’s trust, but also to facilitate the rescue of three more animals. Though one life was lost, three were saved – and all because of a missed bus and two generous people who know that kindness doesn’t always happen on a nine-to-five schedule.

This story is just one of many that demonstrate the impact of the Seattle Animal Shelter. You can help us deepen that impact. Please donate to SASF today.