Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | January 22, 2003

Support your local animal shelter

Reading in The Dispatch about the great work being done at the San Martin Animal Shelter reinforced the wisdom of our family’s decision to adopt two kittens from the facility 18 months ago.

Our kids had been asking for pets for some time. When Andrew was in kindergarten, we had a hamster, Speedy, who was well loved and cared for, but whose life span – just over a year – was too short.

After Speedy failed to wake up one day, we were pet-free for a few years. This didn’t bother me, since I grew up without pets. My father, who sold houses, often said, “Animals bring down the value of a house,” and other than a tropical fish tank, we never had any critters. I really don’t consider fish to be pets. Live decor, maybe; companion animals, no.

Once Andrew and Katie were old enough to responsibly handle the chores that come along with pets, it was time to decide on the best animal for our family.

Andrew, who was 10 when we adopted the kittens, has always loved felines. When he was in Mrs. Seger’s second-grade class at Nordstrom School, his extensive animal project – multi-chapter report, diorama, mobile, clay sculpture – was about his favorite creature, the tiger.

Yet he wavered. He liked the idea that dogs can be trained, as opposed to cats, which have staff, not masters. When I reminded Andrew that he would need to walk a dog every day – rain or shine, whether he felt like it or not – the deal was sealed. Despite the chore of scooping out a litter box, cats were the right choice.

After researching kitten care at the library and talking with friends who’ve had cats for years, we decided we could handle the commitment and headed to the San Martin Animal Shelter. The place was overflowing with kittens. There were kitty condos in the lobby, kittens in quarantine on the patio, and in the adoption room, which features two walls lined floor to ceiling and corner to corner with cages, each cage boasted at least two kittens.

Andrew – who’s a Garfield fan – immediately chose a male orange tiger-striped kitten. Just like his namesake, Super Mario of Nintendo fame, our Mario bounced over, under and around every object in the kitten adoption room after he was freed from his cage.

Meanwhile, Katie, then 6, was sitting on the floor cuddling the object of her affection, a calm white kitten with a black tail and a black splotch on his forehead, who – of course – became known as Oreo. The only downside for her was that her lovable kitten was a boy, but she forgave him.

The helpful staff let us play for quite a while with the two kittens in the adoption room to make sure they would get along as housemates once we brought them home. They wanted reassurances from us that Oreo, especially, would not be allowed outside, for fear he would develop skin cancer on his vulnerable white ears.

When we brought Mario and Oreo home, something uncanny happened. Each kitten immediately went to the right child’s bedroom – where a hopeful young pet owner had placed a cat carrying case lined with a towel for the new pet – and settled into the the case for a nap.

Now, 18 months later, and despite the occasional hairball, the shredded family room couch and the toppled Christmas tree, we can’t imagine life without them. Besides their delightful company, we’d miss Mario’s motorboat purr and Oreo’s penchant for occupying tight spaces – boxes, bookshelves, baskets – and the pure joy they exhibit when they play together.

If you’re thinking of adding an pet to your family, please visit the animals waiting for adoption at the San Martin Animal Shelter. You can learn all the details at or by calling 683-4186. You’ll be glad you did.



  1. An animal shelter is a great place to find a future companion…I recommend it!

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