Time after time, when I showed up at Dallas Animal Services over the course of the winter, Lieutenant Scott Walton would razz me about taking home a kitten. I'd outed myself as a cat person in our first interview, and this guy went for the hard sell every time after that. Didn't help that Jonnie England, whom I also interviewed for this week's cover story, was always at DAS volunteering when I'd stop by. She was relentless too.
Here, look at this cute kitten. There, look at that cute kitten. Sure, come inside the play rooms and let 'em cuddle up on you for an hour straight instead of heading back to the office to listen to Wilonsky drone on about wet-dry votes.
I didn't really get it. I was a reporter stopping by to write some pretty damning things about DAS. I wasn't there to get a pet. Why did they keep pushing me? Every time, it was a new kitten shoved in my face or in front of my camera. It became kind of stressful. Kind of annoying. Kind of off-putting.
And then I looked at the numbers. And I realized it wasn't about the hard sell. It was about saving lives. Immediately, urgently. DAS takes in eight or nine thousand cats a year, and three times that many dogs. Probably 80 or 90 percent of those animals will be euthanized. That is dozens of animals dead per day. Dozens. Dead. Each day. DAS simply cannot afford to house all of the animals they take in -- many of which are surrendered by owners who decide they can no longer take care of their pets. I've watched those surrenders. They are heartbreaking and infuriating.
But I've also watched the adoptions. That's what Lieutenant Walton calls the "rainbows" side of things at DAS. I've watched the walking in alone, the locking eyes with a furry, helpless friend, the walking out with a forever companion. When it happens, it is beautiful. But it does not happen often enough at DAS.
This is where you -- and I -- come in.
One day, I walked by a cage in the cat adoption room and saw a crisp, white kitten dotted with tabby spots and big, round yellow eyes. "Meer!" she said to me. "Ear! Ear!" And when I took her out to play, she climbed right up to my shoulder and hugged my neck. "Meer! Ear!"
I didn't have to think twice. I knew I had room in my home and my heart for another kitty. I snuck out of work the next day to take her home.
Her name is Stella -- following a theme, my other two cats are named Whiskey and Sake -- and she is a hateful little turdball, and I love her with every bit of my heart. She wakes me up at the crack of down with relentless cries of "MEEEEEEEEEEER!" She swipes my boyfriend's legs and chews fingers while we're asleep. She harasses my older cats. And she is the most glorious thing on earth. She makes me understand what people mean when people say they like their kids even though they vomit on everything and shit green pudding. And please, before you wad your drawers because I just compared human kids to a cat, know that comparing kids to a cat is the nicest possible compliment I could give them, because, my God, I love cats.
I love them so much I make videos of them doing adorable things and put them on the internet. Videos like this one, for example, featuring some of Stella's finer acrobatics:
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If you have the time and resources to care for a pet, please consider going down to Dallas Animal Services and adopting one of the hundreds there that need a good home. Pet ownership can be time consuming and expensive -- as my electrical engineer friend noted, "Addition of cat (x) increases output of waste exponentially by a factor (n)." But, my God, when rewards come in purrs, you wish there was a bank you could put purrs in, because just collecting interest on those things would keep you in Snuggies for life. And y'all know how cat ladies go through Snuggies.
DAS adoption hours are 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
And if you've got more time than room for more pets, consider volunteering.