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Shelter grant offers helping paw to special-needs cat

Clifford, a 9-year-old diabetic cat waiting for adoption, now comes with a Petfinder Foundation grant to help with his medical costs and increase his chances of adoption. Anne Polta / Tribune1 / 3
Anne Polta / Tribune Clifford, a 9-year-old diabetic cat waiting for adoption, now comes with a Petfinder Foundation grant to help with his medical costs and increase his chances of adoption.2 / 3
Clifford, a 9-year-old diabetic cat waiting for adoption, now comes with a Petfinder Foundation grant to help with his medical costs and increase his chances of adoption. Anne Polta / Tribune3 / 3

WILLMAR — When you wait and wait and wait at the pet shelter for someone to adopt you, sometimes you need a little extra push from the humans.

A diabetic ginger cat named Clifford has been at Hawk Creek Animal Shelter for over a year. Concerned that his medical needs were an obstacle for potential adopters, the shelter recently received a $1,000 grant from the Petfinder Foundation to help cover the cost of his insulin and prescription food.

It's the first time Hawk Creek Animal Shelter has turned to a grant program to enhance a special-needs animal's chances for adoption

The money "might only last a year," said Michele Busskohl, volunteer coordinator.

But she hopes it's the incentive someone needs to come forward.

"He deserves to be in a home," she said. "To have more attention, more petting, sunny window sills, cat towers — there's so many things he should be able to enjoy."

Clifford was 8 years old when his owner, who was facing health challenges, surrendered him to the shelter in August 2017. Not long after he arrived, he was diagnosed with diabetes. With time and patience, his condition is under control and he's doing well.

"We have him stabilized. He's very well-managed," Busskohl said.

Keeping him healthy requires insulin injections twice a day and a special diet.

It adds up, Busskohl said. "Every six weeks you're going to have to spend a couple hundred dollars."

Although a cheaper version of insulin is available, it's not an option because it caused Clifford's glucose level to crash, she said.

Now age 9, Clifford hangs out all day in the office of Bobbie Bauman, the shelter's operations director. He likes to lie on Bauman's computer keyboard while she's working. When a shelter worker drops into the office to greet him, he responds with a feisty round of shadow-boxing.

"He's still spunky," Bauman said.

Shelter staff said he would do best in a quieter household with a predictable schedule that allows him to receive his daily insulin shots on time.

Applicants for adoption will be interviewed to ensure a good fit and to ensure Clifford is placed with someone committed to meeting his medical needs, Busskohl said. "We want to find someone that doesn't say 'I want him' and then a year and a half later it's 'this is getting too expensive.' He's got perfectly good quality of life. He could live another five to seven years."

His new family will be trained in giving insulin injections before taking him home, she added. "It's not a burden to give him a shot. He knows it's coming and he tolerates it very well."

The Petfinder Foundation offers a variety of grants for pet shelters. The senior pet adoption grant awarded for Clifford is designed to help facilitate the adoption of an older animal.

Hawk Creek Animal Shelter hopes to use the grant program again if there's a need, Busskohl said.

Clifford has "really come a long way," she said. "We've been trying to get him a home for a long time."

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at http://healthbeat.areavoices.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

(320) 235-1150
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