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Meet Snowflake, an old cat at a CT vet clinic that comforts pets and humans

Snowball, a 17 year old domestic shorthair, strolls across the reception desk at Compassionate Care Veterinary Hospital in Berlin Connecticut.
Tyler Russell
/
Connecticut Public
Snowflake, a 17-year-old domestic shorthair, strolls across the reception desk at Compassionate Care Veterinary Hospital in Berlin, Conn.

One day, Snowflake’s life was turned upside down after the sudden death of her elderly owner.

After a life of love and snuggles, and with nobody to take care of her, the domestic shorthair cat was brought to Compassionate Care Veterinary Hospital in Berlin to be euthanized.

“It was unfortunate that the woman was elderly and may not have had the remaining family,” said Dr. George Keech, veterinarian and owner of Compassionate Care.

But after a little time with Snowflake, he decided to adopt her as a pet for the clinic.

Even with Snowflake’s good fortune and a healthy appetite, she started losing weight. She was eventually diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, and with treatment her weight stabilized.

Initially, Snowflake, now 17, was nervous and shy with others, Keech said. Two years later, Snowflake overcame her fears and became kind of a clinic social worker, providing emotional support to animals and people who visit.

“Even our mailman comes in, and the most important thing for him is to be greeted by Snowflake,” Keech said. “He comes in looking for her and wants to pet her. I think because of her friendliness [she] just makes people so much at ease.”

In a survey conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, 76% of pet owners responded that their personal health improved after getting a pet. But approximately 920,000 shelter animals are euthanized each year, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Emotional support animals offer a variety of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, according to Cornwall College Newquay Centre for Applied Zoology.

“She’s 17, I think that shows compassion not only for myself but from all my staff, and people feel much more at ease when they have to bring their pets in for that final visit,” Keech said.

“Every day can be challenging. But these pets, including Snowflake and the affection she shows us, make the end of the day much more enjoyable.”

Snowball chases fish across a screen at the front desk of Compassionate Care Veterinary Hospital in Berlin Connecticut.
Tyler Russell
/
Connecticut Public
Snowflake chases fish across a screen at the front desk of Compassionate Care Veterinary Hospital in Berlin, Conn.

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.