Foster dad of near decapitated cat starts foster network, giving other animals second chance at life

Foster dad of near decapitated cat starts foster network, giving other animals second chance at life

In February, Henry the cat stole the hearts of many after he made headlines for his traumatic experience of being nearly decapitated while seeking shelter under the hood of a car, trying to stay warm in the brutal Wisconsin winter.

Ben Nelms of Merrimac took Henry in and fostered him back to health.

Last week, Nelms officially adopted Henry.

“He’s recovering slowly but surely, and we’ve taken on the path from being a patient to a cat,” Nelms said.

Nelms is a volunteer at the Sauk County Humane Society, where Henry was first taken in after he was found with significant injuries.

While Nelms said Henry’s recovery has been a lot of work, Henry is “one of the best cats I’ve ever known.”

As a volunteer at an animal shelter, Nelms knows the reality that not every animal gets a second chance at life as Henry did. Nelms is starting a fostering network to help save as many animals’ lives as he can.

According to the annual report by the Sauk County Humane Society, the euthanasia rate for 2017 was about 37 percent of all animals. In 2016, the rate was about 35 percent.

“My favorite thing in the world is when you see the names get adopted. That’s my favorite thing, but you don’t see every name make it,” Nelms said.

Seeing what a happy life Henry now has, Nelms was inspired to do more. Nelms said he knows he can’t save every animal, but took it upon himself to get as many animals out of cages and into homes as possible.

Nelms said animals act differently when they’re in cages. He said he has seen animals who act extremely shy in the shelter who are social, outgoing animals in a home environment. Nelms added that the dogs that may be barking incessantly at the shelter, may be the calmest companion when they’re not confined in a small space and have regular interaction with people.

Nelms is starting a fostering network and needs more people to join and help. Nelms believes that if more animals could show their true personalities, more of them would be adopted. Nelms also said that fostering animals who are in poor health and who need a family to watch after them until they are adoptable, could prevent them from being euthanized.

The Sauk County Humane Society is an open-admissions shelter, meaning they will take any animal, any time and under any circumstance. Due to the rate at which they accept animals, their euthanasia rate is higher than neighboring animal shelters. Their euthanasia rates have faced scrutiny in the past.

Foster dad of near decapitated cat starts foster network, giving other animals second chance at life

Their annual report states, “Because we do not turn our backs on the injured, sick, diseased, and otherwise unadoptable animals as well as the people who have nowhere else to turn, and because we serve as the last refuge for animals that are turned away from other jurisdictions, our euthanasia rate will likely be higher than our neighbors. The reality is that due to the overwhelming volume of animals coming into our shelter, healthy adoptable animals could possibly be euthanized due to resource constraints. Despite that, thankfully, because we move heaven and earth using other resources, we have not had to euthanize a healthy adoptable animal in many years.”

Nelms said he’s heartbroken seeing so many animals not get a chance at life, so he is making an effort to help curb the rate at Sauk County Humane Society.

Nelms’ foster network is his attempt to get as many animals into loving homes until they can be adopted.

Sauk County Humane Society outreach manager and volunteer coordinator Rachel Leuzinger said she’s on board with Nelms’ plans, but said there is more work that needs to be done.

“I think anything that’s going to enhance the foster program is going to benefit the animals, and that’s great,” Leuzinger said. “We are all for that, but it’s only a partial solution. The top solution is to reduce the amount of unwanted animals coming into the shelter.”

Nelms knows he can’t save every animal, even with this new foster network, but he said, “If the network is small, but we are able to help 10 more Henrys a year and 30 more timid animals a year, it’s better than it was before.”

If you would like to help Nelms’ cause and join the fostering network, it doesn’t cost any money, but it does require a piece of your heart and home. To join and learn more, click here.

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