- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) - Danene Eckelbarger and 10-year-old son Jeffrey don’t have much to say. They’re too busy smiling.

As soon as they walk through the front door, their focus turns to their four-legged friend. They crowd around feline Jesse, stroking his soft gray fur.

“It’s a big relief,” Danene said.

In December, Danene and her husband, Donnie, battling aggressive forms of cancers and a slew of health problems, didn’t know what to do with Jesse, who they had rescued in the fall.

After reading their story in a December issue of The Herald Bulletin, Middletown residents Cary and Angie Chase knew they had to act in order to help the Anderson family.

Shortly before New Year’s Day, Jesse went to live with the husband, wife and eight other felines at their rural home.

“I felt good when they first walked up and I met them,” Danene said. “I knew it was going to be a good family.”

Since the Chases took custody, Jesse has blossomed. The cat’s health has improved, although they made the decision to remove his tail due to an open wound and infections. And they learned that she is actually a he.

The realization that the feline isn’t a female has made it difficult to adjust to using the proper pronouns, and the Chases joke that they’ll give him a complex.

But other than the challenge of saying “he,” the transition has been a smooth one. The Chases said Jesse follows them all throughout the house.

“That’s one of the friendliest, most loving cats we’ve ever had,” Cary said.

Even their cats who are often territorial are usually relaxed around Jesse, they said.

About a month after Jesse settled into his new home, Danene and Jeffrey stopped by for their first visit.

“Oh he remembers you,” Angie said to Jeffrey.

Jeffrey didn’t say much about the reunion, just that it felt good to be reunited with his cat.

Many of the calls that rolled in about Jesse were offers to temporarily foster him, but the family wanted something more permanent.

The Chases offered their home, as well as an open invitation to Jeffrey to visit.

“We wanted him to know we wanted to be the last resort,” Cary said. “If you can find someone that doesn’t have a cat that wants one, great, but we’re not gonna let the cat go to the pound.”

“We would never get rid of (him), ever,” Angie added. “But if (Jeffrey) were to ever get to where he could take (Jesse) back, that would be fine.”

Finding Jesse a loving home was just one piece of good luck the Eckelbarger family received recently: although it’s still early, Danene’s cancer is in remission.

Animal lover Jan Ault has worked closely with the Eckelbarger family and helped facilitate Jesse’s move. She said the whole situation has been a best-case scenario so far.

“Cary and Angie are a rescuer’s dream come true,” she said. “If every rescue could turn out this good and beautiful and with lots of love, it would just be overwhelming in a good way,” she said. “This is an exceptional, exceptional case.”


Source: The (Anderson) Herald Bulletin, https://bit.ly/2lsiQ6d


Information from: The Herald Bulletin, https://www.theheraldbulletin.com

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