Willy Update And A Public Response To In Our Hands Rescue Of NY

by Valerie, Mom Knows It All

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Time for another update on our boy Willy. People continue to comment, email and message with words of support for Willy and I thought an update was in order.

Update #1 – April 23, 2017 – Love At First Sight. Welcome Willy. http://www.valmg.com/welcome-willy/
Update #2 – May 16, 2017 – A Willy Update – Illness And Our Experience With In Our Hands Rescue.  http://www.valmg.com/willy-illness/
Update #3 – June 16, 2017 – Willy Update – Still Sick & Needs Surgery ASAP And How In Our Hands Rescue Made Me Doubt Everything. http://www.valmg.com/willy-update-3/

Our boy Willy is a real trooper. He’s hanging in there while he awaits surgery. Surgery is scheduled for the end of this month. We have no idea how we will pay the bill, since we simply cannot afford it. But, it cannot be put off any longer so even if it takes paying $5 a month for forever then that’s what I’ll do. Willy has already run two courses of antibiotics and while they did what they are supposed to do, they simply aren’t enough to cure his infection. So we wait. Willy continues to amaze us. Even with everything that he’s been through he is super affectionate. We believe he knows how much he is loves and feels safe here. He does play once in a while now, if he’s feeling up to it. He loves to cuddle with us, both during the day and at bedtime. His health is still the same. He still has the wheezing and whistling when he breathes at times. He still has to sleep with his mouth open a little bit. And he still has those awful croup-like sounding coughing fits every day. Nevertheless he persists. And so do I.

Since this has all started happending I have done a lot of reading, along with many efforts to reach out to many people. I feel this situation is inexcusable, and that it reeks of greed and highly questionable ethics. Since I don’t believe almost anything the folks at In Our Hands Rescue say, I decided to try and backtrack to the beginning.

Willy Petfinder listing

On April 22, 2017, I adopted Willy from In Our Hands Rescue of New York, a 501c3 organization. I found Willy on Petfinder, which is where I first heard of In Our Hands Rescue. Petfinder listed the rescue as being a member of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals and a New Hope Partner. I took those things to mean that the rescue was reputable.

I should have done more homework.

I was under the impression that Willy was a healthy 12-month old Siamese cat. In Our Hands Rescue stated they rescued Willy from Cairo, Egypt, and that Willy had arrived in the US on April 6, 2017. The only document that In Our Hands provided me (incomplete, not an original and very poor quality that isn’t totally legible) after I adopted Willy was a vaccination record from ESMA (the Egyptian Society For Mercy To Animals). On May 7, 2017 I tried emailing ESMA and messaging their Facebook page asking them if they had any information on Willy’s background that they could share. I was hoping to learn more about his story, and maybe get some more medical information. I did not receive a response.

May 8, 2017 was Willy’s first appointment with the vet, and the day we were told about the trauma he had received, the illness and infection stemming from it, and a need for oral surgery. The first course of antibiotics started. That visit to the vet cost $306.18. We were unable to obtain a precise estimate for the oral surgery since they wouldn’t know the extent of the work needed to be done until they were in there. Starting price would be $400 for a simple surgery. It was suggested I apply for a $2,000 Care Credit loan. I did apply and a loan was denied.

On May 9, 2017 I emailed In Our Hands Rescue in the hopes that they would help me with the medical expenses that were starting to pile up. Their founder Jennifer replied by email the same day stating that they would not refund the $300 fee that I paid since it was a donation. Their email further stated they would be willing to let me surrender the cat, at which point they would let their vet in New York treat it. I informed them there was no chance I would give up the cat, since he was now family and he didn’t deserve to be abandoned. She asked we keep her apprised of Willy’s well-being.

May 12, 2017 was Willy’s next vet appointment. A different antibiotic was prescribed, along with an immune system booster. That visit cost $225.53.

On June 7, 2017 we returned to the vet again. The vet said that we needed to do the oral surgery, and that they also needed to check Willy’s windpipe while he was under due to some issues shown on some video I showed them (which I shared in my 3rd post).

I started searching for emergency grants for pet medical care, applying for any that we qualified for. So far only two have replied and they were out of funding.

I tried emailing ESMA again on June 14, 2017. This time I did get a reply, from one of the ESMA officers (and possibly the chairperson according to a Google search) named Mona. She confirmed that ESMA had had a Siamese cat named Willy. Her second email stated that Willy originally came from Alexandria, Egypt and had been found on the street by a rescuer.

Willy - 06/14/17 ESMA email

Feeling encouraged that I got a reply from ESMA at all, I sent a reply, including links to photos of Willy. I asked if they had seen any signs of injury when they had him and included a summary of the situation. I also noted the refusal of In Our Hands to help financially, thinking that she should know about this problem since the two organizations have partnered with each other before. I never received a reply.

At 11:24 am est on June 14, 2017 Jennifer of In Our Hands Rescue left a comment on my blog, in response to my third post on Willy. I did not reply on my blog or by email prior to now.

Willy - 06/14/17 IOHR comoment on Mom Knows It All

At 11:38 am est on June 14, 2017 Jennifer also emailed me. In this email she atttempted to switch the focus of the entire discussion onto me, making me out to be a bad person for not returning Willy to her and for not being able to afford the surgery he needs immediately. She even included a thinly veiled implied threat (but clearly misspelled) about her rescue being defamed. I did not reply on my blog or by email.

Willy - IOHR email

I would now like to publicly reply to the comment that Jennifer left on my blog and to her most recent email here and now.

First I must begin by stating I am always careful to do my research and I try to stick to the facts. Everything I have stated on this blog to this point has been fact (documented by screenshots or public information) or my personal opinion, which I note as such with satements such as I think or I believe. Those things being said, let me address the statements made in her final two pieces of correspondence as shown above, and share what my opinion.

I don’t personally believe  that In Our Hands paid much, if anything at all, to have Willy shipped here. Here is the information I base that thought on. Anyone visiting the ESMA website or Facebook page can see that they publicly ask for people to fly animals over to meet their new families, and that they pay for those flights. It took me under one minute to find this info on the ESMA Faebookpage, which I took a screenshot of. In Our Hands bring over at least 6 or 7 cats that trip. It is obvious that not all of those animals had families lined up or they wouldn’t have been listed on Petfinder. I recall seeing at least 4 of the cats on Petfinder.

Willy - ESMA flight parents

Jennifer claims in her comment that much of the $300 fee I paid was medically related and for testing. The vaccination document from ESMA reflected a vaccination being given to Willy on April 11, 2017. It doesn’t mention Willy being altered at all.

No record of Willy being altered has been provided. I have confirmed he has been altered with my vet. I don’t know when he was altered. But if the alteration was recent there would have been an exam for that as well and the vet would have seen the trauma. I can’t say for sure where the vet that gave this vaccine is/was located, but the way the date was written (04.11.017) gave me the impression it was from the same region as previous vaccinations, which was Egypt. Now I could be mistaken about the styling of the writing being related to where the vaccination was given. But I’m not wrong about the date. In Our Hands stated publicly on Petfinder that Willy arrived in the US on April 6, 2017. It is widely known public knowledge that April 11 comes after April 6 on any calendar, it doesn’t matter which part of the world you’re located in.

If a vaccine was given after he was here then it would have been through a US vet. US vets always give an exam before vaccinating. And an exam always includes checking the insides of an animal’s mouth. Had any qualified vet worth their salt here in the US examined Willy they would have seen the trauma, injury and infection on the inside of his mouth. If a vet in Egypt gave the vaccination then Willy wasn’t here on April 6, making In Our Hands a liar. The veterinary group that I use is very well-known and extremely reputable. They are 100% certain that Willy’s problems did not occur recently. The point here is that if Willy saw the vet in Egypt of if he saw one here but wasn’t given a thorough vet exam, what were those medical fees she claims for? $300 for one vaccination? I think not.

Jennifer mentions the horrendous issues regarding animal cruelty and treatment of animals in the Middle East. I have researched this and I believe it to be one of the few things she stated that is accurate. I was appalled by some of the articles I found. In fact, I have a post half written in draft on it so feel free to check back for that.


I do not think that In Our Hands personally inflicted the trauma and injury to Willy. I do feel that when they bring any animal over from another country they should have that animal vet checked immediately upon landing, not just for verification of information they have been given but also to ensure safety of that animal and any others it comes into contact with. Some states have laws that state rescue and shelter animals coming from a different geographic area must be held in a sort of quarantine until they are examined here. Since Egypt obviously has different standards for medical treatment than we do, it’s just a bad decision not to be checking these animals for disease and injury, particularly since those things can incur a lot of expense to treat.

I am aware that In Our Hands offered to refund me the $300 donation fee if I surrendered Willy to them. I will not abandon Willy or cause him further heartbreak or confusion. What’s to say that In Our Hands would be willing to spend whatever will be needed to help Willy get better? What’s to say they won’t feel the expense will outweigh potential donations or income and have him put down? What’s to say they won’t adopt him back out to another family as is without medical treatment?

At one point I would have certainly considered driving Willy to New York to receive treatment from their vet. I no longer have enough faith in the organization to even consider that. If In Our Hands is willing to have Willy seen by their vet, who according to Jennifer of In Our Hands costs more because they’re in New York, why not just send the monies they are willing to spend right to my vet?

Willy - IOHR Petfinder rescue info

Jennifer from In Our Hands mentions my “dramatic” posting about this experience on my blog, and asks to what gain. The answer to that is twofold.

First, I would like In Our Hands Rescue to do the right thing and help with Willy’s medical expenses. They have refused to do this to this point but I still feel they should do so. They can send the money directly to my vet.

Second, I want to share my experience with this rescue with my readers. I share things with my readers, that’s what I do. Of the top five states where Mom Knows It All enjoys readership, New York and New Jersey are amongst the top five. That means that there is a potential for one of my readers to wind up adopting from In Our Hands. I want those people to be fully aware of our experience as well as other experiences easily found on the internet before they adopt, so they go into their decision with eyes wide open. I want any family considering adopting to be sure to do a little research before going with a specific group.

Case in point about research. The Petfinder listing stated that the rescue was a member of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC Animals as well as a New Hope Partner. The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals is a nonprofit that works with more than 150 partner rescue groups and shelters to offer important programs and services that save the lives of NYC’s homeless animals. New Hope Partners help the animal centers find homes for unwanted animals.

The rescue does not appear to currrently be a member of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC Animals, which is something you can check right on the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC Animals website. In Our Hands is also not currently on the list of New Hope Partners, which can be checked on New Hope Partners page. I have personally spoken extensively with a representative of NYC’s Mayor’s Alliance. My story was not the first time they have heard of In Our Hands. They are all too familiar with the rescue name as well as its founders name, and neither one is in a positive manner.

Organizations are responsible for updating their own Petfinder descriptions. Either In Our Hands hasn’t bothered to update their information or they’re falsifying to make the organization sound better then it is.

In Our Hands Rescue is not an organization I would ever recommend anyone go through for rescuing an animal. A simple Google search is all that I would have needed to have done to find horror stories and bad experiences like ours. Now our story will be there for others to see too.

I will not be giving Willy back to In Our Hands. Not now and not ever.


Ben June 21, 2017 - 4:31 pm

This is the worst, WORST thing I have read in a long time. I cannot believe how they misrepresented his condition! I worked at a vet for 7 years, and I can tell you that the condition going on his mouth is something that you really can’t overlook if you’re doing a thorough exam. I call BS on this all the way around. I hope his surgery goes well!

Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle June 21, 2017 - 4:35 pm

I can’t believe what a crazy, tragic left turn this took for you AND for poor Willy. I hope he gets the help he needs, and I hope this helps people avoid similar issues.

Melissa Chapman June 21, 2017 - 4:47 pm

It is a shame that all your good intentions have backfired and have cost you a great deal of money and anguish. I work for a pet rescue and give you a lot of credit for sticking by Willie and trying to help him, we need more people like you and more supervision of these rescues that are not forthcoming with accurate information.

Lisa Favre June 21, 2017 - 6:58 pm

This must be a really tough time for you… really sorry to hear all the trouble you, your family, and your beautiful cat had to go through. Sending great energy and big hugs and a quick recovery post-surgery.

RObin Rue June 21, 2017 - 8:28 pm

Poor Willy! I truly hope he gets the help he needs! He shouldn’t have to suffer because of a corrupt rescue agency.

Pam June 21, 2017 - 9:43 pm

I am so sorry that you and your family and Willy are going through this. If my cat had arrived in that condition, I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable sending them back to the rescue that didn’t catch the condition or didn’t do anything about it.

Rachee June 21, 2017 - 10:49 pm

So sorry that that poor kitty has togo through all of this! I hope you can find a quick and painless resolution.

Travel Blogger June 21, 2017 - 11:10 pm

What an ordeal! I am so sorry you are going through all of this. I hope Willy does well with his surgery, and that you guys can move on.

Amanda Love June 22, 2017 - 9:18 am

Sending love, I’ve adopted 2 cats and I feel so fortunate that they are doing great. There’s so much love to give to these fur babies and as I can see, you have given Willy the best life possible. I hope he comes out healthy and well from that surgery.

Seattle Travel Blogger June 22, 2017 - 10:08 am

Wow, you really are doing a lot for Willy. It sounds like you are doing all you can.
The wheezing he has is terrible; I hope things work out for him.

Wendy Polisi June 22, 2017 - 2:07 pm

Glad to hear the update on Willy. Our friends finally got surgery for their cat as well. Hang in there!

Annemarie LeBlanc June 22, 2017 - 5:29 pm

Poor Willy. I hope his surgery will make him feel better. But most of all, I hope the people running In Our Hands Rescue should heed the complaints and act on them ASAP. Willy and all the other rescue animals they have should be given better treatment. Thank you for adopting Willy. I cannot imagine what would have happened to him if he stayed with those people. This is just horrible.

Kelly June 23, 2017 - 1:42 pm

Good for you for sticking to your guns on this and not giving Willy back! He is obviously in a very caring home and In Our Hands needs to do the RIGHT THING!

Myrah Duque June 23, 2017 - 3:31 pm

Stories like these are so hard for me to read. Poor Willy, it’s so unfortunate.

pat.navymom June 25, 2017 - 7:42 am

Because of my interest in the law, PR, advertising, charity status, and on-line appeals, I was especially drawn to Willy’s tale. CAFRA (enforced by the FTC and state attorneys general since December, 2016) protects social media posts about consumer evaluations of company service, uploaded photos, videos, etc. It is unlawful to threaten any writer posting an honest review.

With this said, in order to put this tragic situation into proper perspective, much must be considered.
#1 Willy is under continued veterinary care as evidenced by vet treatment and billing ,
#2 The U.S. Public Health Service requires that pet dogs and cats brought into this country be examined at the first port of entry for evidence of diseases that can be transmitted to humans.
#3 New York (port of entry) Health requirements prohibit importation without a health certificate.
#4 ESMA facebook page indicates statements that do not seem to correspond with Our Hand’s response toblogger’s experience.
#5 Our Hands Rescue represents itself as a 501c organization, New Hope partner, and member of the Mayor’s Alliasnce for NYC’s Animals (note misspell).

Now for allegations:
#1 Mona of Our Hands Rescue represents that the organization does not guarantee the health of any animal. She claims “Mom” is hard to work with. She alleges that “Mom” allows the cat to suffer. She terms “Mom” blogs are full of dramatic images and updates.

This reader does not agree with Mona’s perspective. Mom continues to care for Willie and is not again abandoning him. Why was all the required paperwork initially not supplied. Vaccination proof is insufficient.

#2 Jennifer hints that Mom blogs are deformation (another misspell) of rescue. Her response says the cat is needlessly suffering through no fault of Our Hands Rescue. How ironic is her representation that she hopes he gets the care he needs.

This reader does not agree with Jennifer’s perspective either. Rules are rules and backtracking the paper trail indicates that Our Hands Rescue figuratively dropped the ball. Whose fault is that? Certainly not Mom’s. She believed in OHR’s representations. She took him to her vet then…. This woman has
continued to care for the cat rather than again abandoning him to an organization who neglected to supply her with full screening and records. I can only wonder why if these things are properly maintained and available as required by law.

My opinion only:
Our Hands Rescue substantiates too little. ESMA Facebook page indicates statements that do not seem to correspond with Our Hands Rescue response to Mom. Many dates given to Mom conflict with facts presented to her by Our Hands Rescue. I would be interested in an exact accounting of the allocation of the $300 donation it collects per animal so see exactly how much goes to the medical and testing represented as well as to administration and salaries. I believe Mom has done the right thing. Now it is time For OHR, Mona, Jennifer, et ali to man up and apologize to Mom and help Willie instead of trying to rip him out of Mom and Mom’s family’s loving, caring hands.

Carol Cassara June 25, 2017 - 8:50 pm

I can never return such a lovely cat regardless if he has health issues that I need to deal with or not. I think it’s awesome that you’re trying your best and that you have a surgery scheduled for him! Everything’s going to be okay, you’re such a great cat mom.

Kiwi June 29, 2017 - 5:42 pm

Wow this is sad. I never heard of this organization before but sometimes you have to use your platform to make a statement and good dont take Willy back there.

Sloane May 26, 2019 - 3:28 pm

I discovered this post after Googling IOHR, intending to leave a negative post myself. I’m so grateful to you for documenting your ordeal, though of course my heart breaks for you and for Willy. We fostered a pup through IOHR, and unfortunately didn’t do much research as we had previously fostered dogs with other NY shelters and had lovely experiences. We should have done our research. The negligence, disorganization, and utter disregard for our poor house guest was appalling. I won’t delve into the many, many hiccups along the way and will instead focus on the worst of it all. The dog came with no identification papers and just a band around his neck that said ‘Schnauzer #3’. We were told he was thoroughly vetted, however it was immediately clear that if he’d been explained at all, it was certainly not by a vet! He slept the first 36 hours in our home. He would not eat or drink, he was completely bald and emaciated. I’ll pause to say that this was not IOHR’S fault, as he was rescued from a horrific hoarding situation. But I wasn’t told anything about the care he’d require. I sobbed watching him struggle to lift his head and we held him wrapped in blankets to warm his hairless skinny body. Thankfully, my mother is a veterinarian and I consulted her constantly about what to do. We desperately rubbed chicken soup and water on his gums, praying that he’d live through the night. The poor dog excreted blood constantly. My mother told us that he absolutely must be taken to a vet as soon as possible, he needed Medical care that we couldn’t provide. I of course relayed every bit of this information to my contact at the rescue and implored them to give me the information for the vet; we were willing to travel anywhere for him! Time and time again I was told that he just needed to rest. Unfortunately, I am a teacher and my husband was out of work at the time, so the trip to an expensive NYC vet would have meant no groceries–plus IOHR claimed they would pay for veterinary visits if we would go to their vet. I finally sent a scathing message, begging them to help us keep this dog alive. Jennifer finally responded and said they would give him dewormer and we’d have to go pick it up from one of the volunteers. We did, and the pup seemed to improve a little. Dewormer is very easy to give and should have been administered immediately–like they’d told us they’d done before handing him off to us. I’m happy to report that he found a wonderful home with the kindest couple and he has been steadily improving under their vigilant care. We still shudder to think of what have happened to him if he’d landed with a well meaning foster who hadn’t been fortunate enough to have a veterinarian in the family or prior experience caring for sick animals as I do. The negligence and greed of an organization that claims to protect animals is astounding, and downright evil. Thank you for sharing your story and I hope that Willy is thriving!!
(Also I apologize for such a lengthy comment. As I started writing the vitriol just kept coming…)


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