Emergency Call Comes In To Animal Shelter, But Rescuers Pick Up More Than They Bargained For



Members of the Homeless Animal Adoption League raced from their center in Clifton. The windshields wiped back and forth against the harsh, icy rain. Rarely did they worry about the fate of the animal they were searching for. But it was late December. The team had layers of clothes, a dry car, and heating to keep them well and healthy. They were worried. Then, in the distance, they saw a man flagging them down from the side of the road.




Animal rescues are used to certain calls—cats stuck up trees, stray dogs running around towns, rabbits fallen down holes. But no matter how often a call may come in, members of the rescue don’t become desensitized to the harsh reality that some unfortunate animals must endure. As the team began their rounds checking in on their rescuees, the phone rang through the office. Unfortunately, today was one of those days.



The Homeless Animal Adoption League (or HAAL for short) is a pet rehoming organization. Originally, HAAL was known as the East Orange Animal League when it was founded in 1989 when residents of Clifton raised concern about the run-down conditions in the Easy Orange Pound. Citizens of the New Jersey City were delighted to have a non-profit organization looking out for the safety of animals. But others weren’t so keen.

Out With the Old


After many investigations, the East Orange Pound was finally closed in 1995. The HAAL was originally a temporary set-up but after years of hard work, dedication, and love for the animals of Bloomfield, the residents refused to let the organization go. HAAL are not eligible for any state or deferral funds. Their work completely relies on the donations from the townspeople and animal supporters. Everyone that works with the organization is a volunteer and all donations go towards caring for their animals. And this just makes their job even more difficult.


The HAAL rescues, cares for, and rehomes exclusively felines. They work hard to fulfill their mission of “saving lives one cat at a time.” The team worked around the clock to get every rescuee to good health, providing vaccinations, health checks, spays, and neutering. Unlike pounds, residents at the HAAL are showed affection and have constant human interaction, roaming around the building to meet friends both feline and human. But some of these cats have had a dreadful beginning.



HAAL has spent over 20 years caring for felines that have either been lost, abandoned, or abused. Their work is arduous but rewarding when their felines find a family to take care of them forever. But this one particular call on a cold winter’s night had them questioning if they were good enough to save the felines in need.



“When you get a call saying that kittens are in a laundry basket on a curb, your heart sinks. The call sounded legit and the caller seemed truly concerned,” HAAL shared on their Facebook page. The man who called the organization was shaken from the cold and the condition he found the kittens in. “Please hurry,” he repeated on the line. The old man was perished from the rain and worried for the feline’s health and wellbeing. Thankfully, their mother was present, providing warmth. But as temperatures continued to drop, the risk of hypothermia increased. Time was against them.


Facebook/Homeless Animal Adoption League

“We went off to see if we could find these frightened babies. With GPS in hand, we quickly found the street. Once we parked, we started walking, and in seconds, we saw a recycling container on the curb.” Upon inspection, the team found four tiny kittens, no more than a few weeks old. Thankfully, momma managed to keep them warm from the perishing weather. But not everything was as it seemed.

New Home

Facebook/Homeless Animal Adoption League

“They looked good; [they had] clear eyes and noses and were eating on their own. We moved some cats around and squeezed them in – seven more to add to our family,” HAAL shared. “Mom was quiet and looked up as if to say, ‘Thank God you found us.’” Despite their horrific experience, the family seemed well. But the team was in for a big surprise the next day.



Facebook/Homeless Animal Adoption League

The following morning, vets gave each member of the family and quick over-over. Then, they discovered that momma was actually a male! The team was shocked. “He could have been the dad or a big brother from another litter, but to those kittens, he was their protector and surrogate mom. He groomed them and gently played with each one,” they shared online. In all their years, they had never come across anything like this. Unfortunately, this family’s struggles weren’t over.


Facebook/Homeless Animal Adoption League

The team decided their surrogate mother needed a matching name. The unanimous decision was based on Robin William’s famous role of Mrs. Doubtfire. The team quickly began to hand rear his family. Next, they had to name all six kittens and work towards finding them all suitable homes. If only Mrs. Doubtfire’s struggles had come to an end then.



It wasn’t long before staff noticed Mrs. Doubtfire’s irregular heartbeat and labored breathing. After countless checks, tests, and x-rays, the team discovered that he was suffering from a diaphragmatic hernia. It seemed as though Mrs. Doubtfire had been a victim of trauma, likely a forceful blow to the abdomen. The impact had caused his diaphragm to tear, later allowing his organs to shift up into his chest cavity. His suffering was far from over.



The team at HAAL were ready to begin fundraising for Mrs. Doubtfire’s surgery. The total cost of the operation was estimated at $8,000—easy—they had raised much more than that in the past. They had a GoFundMe page ready to create, videos ready to share, and invites ready to send for a coffee morning. The team was confident they could save him. Then, the house-vet shared some disappointing facts about this father.



Youtube/N2 Cat Crew

The operation was a huge risk, with a 65% chance of recovery. Complications are common, and similar animals haven’t managed to pull through. The team was torn. Would they put his life at risk for a few extra years? He wasn’t in pain. He was comfortable, loved, and had plenty of time to get as much affection as he could take. After days of deliberating, the team decided against the procedure. What were they going to do now?


Facebook/Homeless Animal Adoption League

The team worried about finding Mrs. Doubtfire a home. As his kittens began to grow, they caught visitor’s eyes. Six became five. Five became three. Three were picked up the same day. Mrs. Doubtfire was alone but only for a few days. HAAL managed to find this caring father a home with his new family. With his hernia under control, he is able to roam his new home while being showed in kisses and hugs. Finally, a well-deserved ending for this thoughtful dad!