Check out our new hours. Most DCHS and Wildlife Center services are by appointment only, including reuniting lost animals, surrendering a pet, wildlife rehabilitation, and more. Adoption visits are first-come, first-served. We recommend checking our current waitlist prior to your visit.

Apr 12, 2019

Highway to Happiness


The story of how your support of Dane County Humane Society transformed a terrifying moment into a serendipitous happy ending.

We may never know how tiny kitten Gus ended up on a busy highway in Madison, but thanks to courageous community members and your support of Dane County Humane Society (DCHS), this terrifying moment transformed into a serendipitous happy ending.

On a snowy day this past fall, Hannah Schlumberger was driving on the Beltline highway when she spotted a black and white kitten darting between the speeding cars. She knew she had to do something to help. Without thinking twice, Hannah pulled over and started running along the side of the highway toward the kitten.

Hannah was inches away from the terrified kitten when police officers stopped her in an effort to keep her safe in this dangerous situation.* At that same moment, Gus leapt back into traffic, was struck by a car and thrown across the highway and out of sight.

Not able to shake the feeling that Gus was still out there and needed her help, a worried Hannah and her mother spent hours searching along the road looking for him. “Seeing something that awful eats away at you,” says Hannah. “(For some) it could be insignificant, but that sort of thing really shook me.” Over the next few days she endlessly looked for him, but eventually accepted there was no way the kitten had survived.

Gus, however, had more than one guardian angel that day. He was eventually found by another Good Samaritan who helped Town of Madison Police safely secure the injured kitten and bring him to DCHS where he could receive immediate care.

Gus arrived at DCHS terrified, with cuts all over his face, ripped and bleeding nails on his front paw and a limp back leg. Radiographs showed a broken leg, but amazingly, no other internal injuries. After determining the fracture would not heal successfully, DCHS’s Animal Medical Services team made the decision to amputate Gus’s back leg in order to give him the best chance at a happy, healthy life.

Thanks to your support, DCHS has an expert medical team ready to respond to emergency situations like Gus’s and save animals in need.

A Terrified Gus huddles in the blankets after being struck by a car on the Beltline highway

Gus’s amputation was successfully performed at DCHS and he was able to rest and recover in a loving foster home. Gus’s foster home not only gave him time to adjust to his new, three-legged lifestyle, but also a chance to overcome his trauma.

Over the course of a month, Gus transformed from a scared, hissing kitten to a purring kitty seeking pets and attention from everyone he met. Every year over 580 animals spend time in DCHS foster homes where they can heal from illness or injury, grow and build strength or learn that the world, and the people in it, are not so scary.

Gus was finally ready to be adopted, and to help get him more exposure, Gus was featured on a Pet of the Week segment on News 3 Now. And who should end up seeing this TV segment but Hannah! She suddenly found herself staring at the sweet face of the kitten she tried to save and believed to be gone forever.

Gus featured as the Pet of the Week on the Noon Show of News 3 Now

Hannah immediately knew Gus needed to be a part of her life, but when she called DCHS, Gus already had an adoption hold. As fate would have it, the adoption hold fell through, and she got the call from DCHS’s adoptions team that Gus could go home with her.

When Hannah arrived at the shelter she raced over to Gus’s cage and wouldn’t leave his side. As they were finally reunited and Hannah held the kitten she had tried to save, she couldn’t hold back her tears of happiness. Hannah felt relieved that Gus was alive, thankful that so many people had come together to help him, and instantly felt a rush of love for this tiny survivor.

“The fact that he’s alive is a miracle, and he brings so much happiness and laughter to my life,” says Hannah. “I love him beyond words.”

Once a scared, injured kitten, newly named Brooks now climbs his 6-foot-tall cat tree like a champ and becomes very demanding of cuddles when bedtime rolls around. According to Hannah, he is the kind of cat that forces you to be a cat person.

Your generous support provides expert medical care at a moment’s notice and safe places of refuge for animals to heal. Together with you, our caring community, we create loving families just like Hannah and Gus. Thank you.

*Dane County Humane Society strongly advises against stepping out of your vehicle on a road to help stray pets or injured wildlife. Please call your local Animal Services or Police Department for assistance and never put yourself in danger.

With your generosity, we can transform the lives of animals just like Gus. Please consider making a gift that will provide refuge, healing and new beginnings to animals in need. Thank you!

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