Monday, June 24, 2024
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With Rescuer’s Cancer Diagnosis, 19 Cats, Dogs and Horses Need Homes

woman and dog
Susan with Honey in prior days.

What does a long-time rescuer, diagnosed with cancer, do with the cats, dogs and horses she’s been caring for as she fights her illness? The same she thing always did for her beloved rescues—find the best homes for each of them, but with more urgency. She needs your help—and the assurance that all these animals will have homes if she is completely incapacitated or does not survive the cancer.

Susan’s barn for the horses.

Susan Lee of Wake Forest, NC, has been rescuing animals since 1978, taking in unwanted animals as well as injured animals she found on the roadsides and including cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, turtles and any other creature that needed human assistance to fill its belly, heal its wounds and give it love and care. As many rescuers do, Susan has ended up keeping and caring for the more medically, physically or emotionally challenging among her charges, and others who for one reason or another were never adopted but are fine and wonderful animals.

Susan was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in March 2011, though ironically she was never a smoker. Even with treatment, she found around Christmas 2012 that the cancer had spread to her brain and doctors “gave her few options”. Friends and her community have rallied around her, but they don’t have the resources to find homes for all the animals still cared for by Susan.

Kim Croom, former director of Pet Foster Network, is coordinating the animals’ placement. She said all of them are highly adoptable and will do best in family homes; they now live in Susan’s home and in an attractive and sturdy barn with some beautiful pasture surrounding the barn. “Susan was a builder, following in her father’s footsteps, and she makes sure the animals have well constructed living quarters!” Kim said of Susan. While many animals had been abused, injured or were feral, they are well accustomed to Susan and other people after being in Susan’s care.

Caroline the Cat, and other cats for adoption

tabby cat

“Caroline is very social with her humans,” Kim said.

When Caroline was just a tiny kitten, she showed up on Susan’s front porch July 4, 2001…perhaps some noisy fireworks had scared her away from her mother. She has grown up to be a social and cuddly girl. Caroline gets along with other cats, dogs, and kids. As she is in her mature years, she’d prefer a household that was not quite so active. Caroline considers her occupation to be that of a Walmart Greeter…..meeting you at the door when you arrive and even walking you to the door when you leave. Otherwise, she is content to “help” on the computer, and likes to be in your lap.

Five cats are looking for foster or adoptive homes, click here to read about all of them.

Bruiser the Dog, and other dogs for adoption

catahoula dog

“He is one strong, solid dog that needs room to run.  I can just see him riding shotgun style in a monster truck with his nose sniffing at the slightly rolled down window and his tongue flapping in the breeze!” Kim said of Bruiser.

This 4-year-old Catahoula boy weighs 80 lbs., neutered, up-to-date on flea and heartworm preventive, and micro-chipped. Bruiser a fun combination of high-energy and affection. We have jokingly nick-named him “Bruiser” as he is so much muscle. He answers to this name very well, but we listed him under his “proper” name, Riley, on his veterinary paperwork. He would be a great dog for a runner and/or active household. He is good with other dogs. True to his breed, he can not be placed in a home with cats (he thinks of them as squeaky toys). A sturdy 6-foot fence is necessary to ensure his safety and your peace of mind!

Eight dogs are looking for foster or adoptive homes, click here to read about all of them.

Mo the Horse, and other horses for adoption

throughbred horse

“Mo would be a good choice!” Kim said of this young and social horse.

Mo is a 7-year-old, dapple gray 18-hand tall Thoroughbred. He is rambunctious, playful and social. This boy has arthritis in all 4 legs and a deformed back hock (knee). Some days Mo has a harder time than others, but what a beautiful companion horse for a lonely horse or as a gentle horse for someone to groom and love as a pet. He is available for fostering or adoption via the Equine Rescue League. Contact them directly via links found at

Six horses are looking for foster or adoptive homes, click here to read about all of them.

NOTE: None of these horses are able to be ridden. They fall under the category of “Pasture Ornaments.” And beautiful ones at that!

Like Dorothy and her pets a year ago, Susan is still caring for her animals as much as possible though the effects of chemotherapy and radiation severely limit her. What she really needs is the peace of mind that only knowing all these animals she has worked so hard to rescue and rehabilitate have homes if she does not win her fight.

A number of businesses in the area have agreed to collect donations of food, bedding and other animal needs, and cash donations would help to fill the costs of caring for the animals as Susan receives treatments; visit the Donations page for more information. Read an article about Susan published in the Raleigh Clayton News Star.

All photos were provided to me by Kim Croom and Susan’s Sweethearts website. Thanks so much to Kim for providing more information and photos of Susan, and best of luck as you continue with this sad task.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

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