First, the orange cat’s owners moved away and left him behind. Luckily he had a neighbor who fed him and checked on him as he roamed his neighborhood. One day, however, he showed up with severe burns all over his head. Poor guy!
That is when his luck started to change. Keegan was taken to Good Karma Pet Rescue of South Florida, where a veterinarian tended to his burns, and a team of volunteers gave him much love and care. He is still recovering, but he is doing well.
Keegan had mange, leading the veterinarian to believe that his burns were due to a chemical that someone had applied to treat his skin condition. Because of the burns, he lost most of his fur on his face and neck. Eventually, he should have a full fluff around his neck again.
A donor and volunteer for Good Karma Pet Rescue commissioned me to paint a pet portrait of Keegan to be placed in the rescue’s new adoption room/cat cafe. Keegan will soon go on to a forever home (yay!), but his pet portrait will remain for all see and to remember the great work that is done there for cats. The pet portrait was painted in my Contemporary Folk Art Style.
Good Karma Pet Rescue is an amazing organization that rescues animals from challenging circumstances in the Fort Lauderdale, FL area. Learn more about their great rescue work by following their Facebook page. You can also send donations here.
I am so glad that they shared some of their “good karma” with Keegan, and many other animals in need!
I offer discounts to those interested in donating artwork to animal rescue organizations. Contact me if you would like to learn more about the process of purchasing art for donations.
I was already a Crazy Cat Lady before Okey found me.
As much as I love cats, I have always been pretty staunch in sticking to my boundaries with taking in new pets. I had four cats when Okey showed up, which was already one over my limit. I had only stretched my boundaries for the fourth (Who) because my mother’s cat needed a home when she went into a nursing home.
I really did not need another cat.
To be truthful, I tried to ignore Okey’s presence at first. She appeared in the parking lot of my building one day, which was not highly unusual. I live in a downtown area where occasional transient feral cats travel by.
But Okey would not be ignored.
I don’t think she wanted to be noticed, but she was bright white in color, making a strong contrast to the drab colors of the parking lot.
And she was not transient. Unlike other cats I have seen in the area, she stuck around. I eventually discovered that she had made herself a bed under the air conditioning unit of the building behind mine.
Okey was not streetwise either, which was different from other cats I have seen around my building. It was pretty clear that she had been “dumped” as she was not very good at staying out of traffic and out of view.
After she nearly was crushed beneath the wheels of my truck twice, I decided to rescue her.
I set a trap near her “bed” beneath the AC unit. It took a couple of days, but she eventually went in the trap and was no longer a parking lot kitty. I named her Okey after the Okey Law Firm building where she was rescued.
When she came inside, I realized that she was not feral. She was open to human contact, and she loved having her head rubbed. She was very timid, though, and seemed fearful that I would hurt her.
I expected that I would try to find Okey a home other than mine, but when I took her in to be spayed, I realized that I had fallen in love with this little cat. Getting back into my truck alone while she was at the vet, a Dixie Chicks song on the radio brought me to tears.
“How long do you want to be loved? Is forever enough cuz I’m never going to give you up.”
It was clear to me at that point that Okey had found a home.
It also became clear to me that Okey had likely been abused before she found me. Her behavior had all the classic signs – desiring affection but fearing it; shrinking away at sudden movements; constant anxiety and hypervigilance; etc.
Knowing that child abuse and domestic violence often are present when animal abuse occurs, I was haunted by the knowledge that Okey’s previous home may have had other victims.
Many people had followed Okey’s story on Facebook, as I had shared with my friends about the newest creature in my life. In fact, a number of them had contributed funds for her vet care.
I knew that her story was powerful, and that others wanted to hear it.
Okey’s Promise is a public art initiative to raise awareness about the connections between animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence.
Most people are unaware of those connections. It is my mission, and my little cat’s legacy to make sure that EVERYONE becomes aware. My hope is that awareness will lead to action that will make ours a safer world for animals and for children and other vulnerable persons.
I can create great artworks that move people and open their eyes and hearts. I need help, though. I cannot do it alone.
I need the support of others to make it happen. Would you like to be one of Okey’s Promise Keepers?
More than everything, please help me share Okey’s story, so that we can eradicate animal abuse and it’s connected abuse to humans.
If doing that is crazy, who wants to be sane?
The video below was made to celebrate Okey’s Gotcha Day on October 30, 2011. it chronicles her journey from being a parking lot kitty to taking her place among my fabulous felines to being a worldwide sensation.
Please contact me if you would like to share Okey’s story and info about the new project on your blog or other media. I look forward to Okey’s story being told by many!
Along with youthful blogger/dancer Miah Thornton, I presented about Okey’s Promise at BlogPaws to a courageous and enthusiastic group at the BlogPaws pet bloggers conference. Special thanks go to the Found Animals Foundation for sponsoring the presentation.
Miah very beautifully enacted Okey’s story and the mission of the entire project, and her moving performance was enjoyed by all. During the presentation, I kicked off the new project on Kickstarter, which you can read about here.
After running into difficulties with finding a permanent location for the last mural, I have decided that the new project will be a traveling exhibit. I plan to create many images of survivors – animal and human – that tell the story of resilience and hope, while also bringing home the reality of pet abuse and domestic violence. There will be several pieces that will go together as a whole, and will have numerous options for indoor and outdoor exhibition.
Please contact me if you would like to consider exhibiting the completed piece in your area.
Before the new work can be exhibited, however, it must be funded. I only have a month to raise the funds. Backers for the project will become a part of a special group called “Okey’s Promise Keepers” as well as receive special awards at specific funding levels. I hope you will consider becoming an “Okey’s Promise Keeper”, and encourage others to do the same. No pledge is too small!
There is plenty of information about the Okey’s Promise mission on [the Okey’s Promise: Art for a Cause] website and on the Kickstarter page. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to learn more. The Kickstarter page allows you to embed the video and a widget that links to the page. I would be thrilled if you chose to share about the project on your blog or website!
I said that we presented to a courageous and enthusiastic group at the BlogPaws, because Hurricane Irene did come through our area, and we had some wind and rain. More than anything, fears of closed airports compelled some to leave early to return to their families. Those of us who remained had a bit of frivolity making fun of news reporters by making crazy hurricane videos. Truthfully though, our area was spared any serious weather. We were all thankful for that!
Although I had great fun at BlogPaws meeting new and old friends, I was very happy to return home to Okey and the rest of the crew.
By the way, the music in both Okey’s Promise videos is by my good friend Jason Farnham who has graciously given me permission to use it. Please visit his website and his Facebook page if you like it!