September 25th, 2018

Spreading happiness: SPCA visits turn into surprises, support, acts of kindness

By Mo Cranker on January 2, 2018.

Three-year-old Ellie Russell plays with her toy cat the Medicine Hat SPCA gave to her after her favourite shelter cat, Simon, passed away in mid-December. --SUBMITTED PHOTO

A lot of times in life, it’s the small gestures that can go the longest way.

For one Hat couple and their daughter, a random act of kindness by staff at the Medicine Hat SPCA brought them happiness during a tough situation.

For weeks, three-year-old Ellie Russell and her parents Steven and Kristine would visit the SPCA every day so Ellie could visit the animals and play with them. Eventually Ellie became attached to a 16-year-old cat named Simon, who brought the three-year-old happiness and joy while she dealt with a few health complications.

“We started going and she just fell in love with the animals,” said Kristine. “After a little while, she started going to just see Simon and play with him for a while. It was great for her because it made her so happy. She’s a pretty shy kid and is dealing with some health problems, so her having Simon to visit was really great for her.”

A week before Christmas, Ellie had to get a surgery done, and was unable to see Simon for a few days and when the family was able to make the trip, they were given the tough news that Simon had passed away.

“Every day she talked about seeing him, but she just wasn’t feeling up to it,” said Kristine. “When were able to go, unfortunately Simon had passed away. Since she is only three, she doesn’t quite understand death yet, but she knows he won’t be around any more.”

After the seeing how happy the cat made Ellie, the family decided to adopt a cat from the shelter, and when they went in to pick up their newest family member, the SPCA had a few things to give to Ellie other than the new cat.

“The SPCA actually wrote Ellie a letter from Simon and gave her a toy cat that looks just like him,” Kristine said. “Ellie was so happy and I couldn’t help but tear up a bit. She carries around the toy cat everywhere and it really made her happy.

“I just wanted to tell this story because it shows how great the people at the SPCA are, and that they really care about the people in the community. We went in there every day for months and didn’t adopt an animal, and they welcomed us with open arms every single day.”

Though she is enjoying her new feline friend, Ellie has not forgotten about the cats at the SPCA, and still goes for visits with her family on a regular basis.

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