Not all superheroes wear capes, nor do they all perform superhuman feats of strength that leave the masses singing their praises. No, for some – including Estes Thorne Ewing & Payne name partner Abby Ewing – their superpower is love and compassion.
To fully appreciate our heroes, we need to know their origin story. Ironically, Abby’s begins when she read someone else’s story – Hannah Shaw’s first book “Tiny But Mighty: Kitten Lady’s Guide to Saving the Most Vulnerable Felines.”
Growing up in Northern California Abby was deeply impacted by her own mother’s affinity for all animals, particularly cats, and she always found comfort in having animals around. As an adult involved in a demanding profession, she gravitated even more to the stress release that only comes from being around an animal.
But it was not until she read “Tiny But Mighty” that she realized the impact the efforts of even one person can make. It was her call-to-action moment, providing the inspiration she needed to become involved with Dallas Animal Services.
Required to take in every kitten, dog, horse, hamster and snake brought to the shelter, weekly intakes frequently soar into the triple digits. Operating the third-largest animal intake service in the country also unfortunately means that Dallas Animal Services does not have the luxury of being a no-kill shelter. But to minimize that number, DAS relies heavily on a remarkable network of dedicated volunteers.
Her early volunteer work primarily involved assisting the staff as necessary. Then came the day someone asked if she would be open to fostering cats.
Countless Fosters & Lasting Love
If there was any initial reticence, it didn’t last long before her home became a regular way station for cats on their way to finding their forever families. The list is so long, in fact, Abby gave up keeping track of the number of cats that have briefly been part of her life.
But that doesn’t mean they have all been easy to watch sashay out the door.
Shortly after getting engaged to a man who may love animals even more than she does, Abby was asked to foster a set of sisters. When the time came, she dutifully returned the ladies to DAS. Well, not exactly. Neither Abby nor her fiancé could bring themselves to say goodbye to one, a tuxedo with an oversized personality, and instead found themselves the proud people to Nora Bell, their first “intentional” adoption.
Fostering kittens as young as four weeks, it is easy to become emotionally involved with their welfare when they have to be hand-fed for at least another four weeks. That was the task facing Abby and her new husband shortly after returning from their honeymoon when they got a call from DAS, asking if they would take in a young male tabby experiencing “failure to thrive.” He finally grew strong enough to take to an adoption event. When no family was found, he was taken back to the shelter, where he again stopped eating. That was when Pierre became “intentional” adoption number two for the family.
The most recent permanent addition to the family is Honeybee, who suffered a significant leg fracture as a very small kitten. She had been adopted, but was returned to the shelter. She didn’t stay with DAS long, joining Nora Bell and Pierre and two dogs as permanent four-legged family members.
The tales of Abby’s animal heroics are numerous. There were the dogs found running across the freeway that she rescued and took to DAS after a few days of home nurturing. In a bit of serendipity, the owners arrived shortly after she did, facilitating a joyously tearful reunion.
Dedicated to making sure anything in their area remains alive and safe, her family has built a community cat shelter in their yard and installed a kitty door in the garage to provide access to shelter during extreme weather. Even her stepson has helped on a number of occasions, teaming up to rescue cats, dogs and even birds.
She’s perhaps most proud that 100 percent of the animals the family has rescued to DAS have eventually been adopted into forever homes – the true test of her greatest superpower – and for her, that’s the purr-fect reward.