Mr. Chatterbox

Mr. Chatterbox Tours the Humane Society

Mr. C shines the spotlight on five hard-to-adopt pets.

By Robert Plunket August 29, 2018 Published in the September 2018 issue of Sarasota Magazine

My dog Meatball has a terrible attitude problem. For someone who was born in a trailer in Orlando, he has become very high and mighty. Every morning he has a bowl of Cheerios—just like me—and he drinks only purified water (unless, of course, it’s from a puddle in the street). And every night he hogs the middle of the bed, where he stretches out full length, leaving me a scant six inches around the edge.

And do I ever hear a word of thanks?

Meatball has no idea how easy he has it. There are pets in China who never get Cheerios. In fact, there are pets in Sarasota who never do, either, and many of them need homes. I’m not talking about cute little puppies and kittens. I’m talking about the harder-to-adopt animals, the older ones, the not-so-cute ones, the ones with problems.

Let’s take a look at several from the Humane Society of Sarasota County on 15th Street. I have a feeling that with a little love and Cheerios they would soon be hogging the bed just like Meatball.


Nick the poodle (pictured above) is 14 years old, which makes him and me exactly the same age. We’re both a little snaggle-toothed, and our fur doesn’t quite have the luster it once did. But there’s still a lot of life left in both of us, as long as that life revolves around lying on the couch in front of the TV.

Older dogs are the hardest to find homes for, which is a shame because they deserve it the most. If you adopt an older dog, here are some things to remember. Start slow. He or she has to recover from the stress of the kennel. Don’t bathe him or take him to the vet right away. Just let him hang out and get used to you. Make sure he has his own space—not too isolated but not in the middle of things, either. Nick is housebroken, thank God, so you don’t have to worry about that. And he probably doesn’t want to be around children and toddlers, but then neither do I.



Donald was rescued from a cat hoarder and he’s the last one—there were 65—who still hasn’t found a home. He’s a classic black cat, and they are often the hardest to find homes for.

The hoarding situation took its toll, and Donald got so stressed he pulled out much of his fur with his teeth. He’s much better now. In fact, he’s in the free-roaming room and gets along great with the other cats. He’s about 6 years old and is known for his good manners.



Catalina's back story sounds like a Dickens novel. She was born in Puerto Rico and found wandering the streets after Hurricane Maria. She was airlifted to Florida and adopted but ran away and spent five months on the street here in Sarasota. Now she’s ready for another try at domesticity, with the third time being—hopefully—the charm.

She’s a mix with a lot of hound in her, and at 21 pounds is a perfect mid-sized dog. They think she’s around 6 1/2 years old. I spent some time with her and found her shy but lively when she feels comfortable with you.



Apple the cat has the dubious distinction of being at the Humane Society longer than anybody else. She ended up here because the other cat at her first home didn’t like her. I can’t imagine why not, as she is pleasant, if a little shy and quirky. Her favorite thing to do is get out of her cage and jump up on the window sill and stare at the birds. You would, too, if you’d been in a cage since April.

Apple is a great beauty. She’s what’s known as a “tortie”—tortoiseshell coloring in an intricate pattern, with a particularly beautiful face. She’ll need some time to adjust to her new home, and the Humane Society suggests she’ll do best in a home without young children.



Talk about an exciting past—Frankie used to belong to a dog-fighting ring! It’s my understanding that he never actually fought, but still, it must have been a chaotic and unhappy upbringing. He was rescued by the ASPCA and spent several months in what sounds like doggie rehab.

Frankie is a pit bull terrier, and many people are hesitant to adopt any dog with pit bull in its gene pool. But pit bulls have gotten a bad rap, and they make great pets for the right family. Preferably one with a large fenced-in back yard, as they are very active and need a good run several times a day. Like most tough guys, Frankie is a real sweetheart once you get to know him. Just don’t pat him on the butt. He hates that.

These pets are waiting at the Humane Society of Sarasota County, 2331 15th St., in Sarasota, (941) 955-4131,, but our 2019 Guide to Giving lists 41 organizations where other worthy animals are looking for homes.

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