Here’s What We Found When We Visited The Escambia County Animal Shelter

June 14, 2019

We recently paid a visit to the Escambia County Animal Shelter, and here’s what we found.

It was a bittersweet trip, a few weeks after the passing of our almost 14-year old Harley, a oversized Maine Coon kitty that when healthy weighed about 18 pounds.

Animal shelter staff had no idea they were speaking to anyone from, and nothing was mentioned during our visit to give them any reason to think they should try to impress. But impress they did.

They were busy on a Saturday afternoon not long before closing time. But we were greeted quickly after entering the bright, friendly lobby. We explained we were looking for a cat, and we inquired about Roscoe (we later dropped the “e” in the spelling, so we’ll call him Rosco for the rest of this story).

We’d found Rosco using the online search linked from the county website. He caught our eye because he was a pretty big guy, about 12 pounds, and because he had been at the shelter over two months, longer than any other kitty as of that day. Also, he is three years old…past that wild kitten tearing up the couch stage.

“Oh! You’re here about Rosco,” the animal shelter staffer said. “I think he’s still here, but I’ll go look.”

In the meantime, staff explained the two areas with kitties. One, a couple of rooms off the main lobby, held felines in their kennels. Many were not yet ready for adoption, on medical holds or waiting out their time for someone to claim them. If the cat was available for adoption, it could be removed from the kennel for a play session. Visitors were playing, well trying to catch up with, a fast little fluffy grey kitten. He was going home today.

We looked around, playing with a few and reading the info cards posted on each kennel. The room and the kennel were well kept and very clean. No scary smells.

The staffer returned.

“Rosco is still here. He’s in the Catnip Cafe,” she said with a smile. Well more of a grin.

The Catnip Cafe? Had Starbucks expanded their empire to the animal shelter? Little grande catnip fraps, perhaps?

The Catnip Cafe (pictured top) was another room where the kitties had their kennels for private space but were free to roam and play. Behind the bright pink door, there were plenty of toys and lots for a kitty to do. Climbing shelves on the walls, cat towers and even toy fish tanks for entertainment. There was also an enclosed outdoor patio for the outdoor types. Again, it was all bright, clean and free of odors.

There in the middle of the room, sitting alone on the benches for people to sit and visit, was Rosco, a big guy that seemed to be in charge.

I sat down next to Rosco and started petting him. He purred, kind of loudly. Three strokes later, he bit me. My wife petted him. And he bit her.

We played with the other cats in the room, and my wife fell for Oreo. A handsome black and white in color fellow that’s five years old. He enjoyed being held like a baby. Total opposite of Rosco.

But there was just something about Rosco I just liked.

My hand had stopped bleeding, so I decided to sit down next to him and try again. He purred. And bit me again.

“Oh you found Rosco! He has been here awhile,” the staffer said when she returned. And she began to tell his story.

Turns out Rosco was a tough guy with plenty of street cred around the shelter. We were told he suffered from overstimulation aggression. That’s vet lingo for pet him and at any moment he will turn and bite or scratch when he’s had enough. Tough guy.

My wife really wanted Oreo, and I liked something about Rosco. We decided to adopt them both.

We let shelter staff know, and excited word begin to spread that Rosco was going home. All the staff knew him.

Animal shelter employee Aleisha Blair took care of the adoption paperwork, and had plenty of Rosco stories. “He can get pretty aggressive,” she said. “He would always make a good barn cat if things don’t work out as an inside cat.”

She showed us pictures of Rosco on her phone. It was obvious that Aleisha cares a lot about shelter animals, as did everyone that we met. We just can’t say enough nice things about the shelter, staff and volunteers.

Rosco and Oreo have been at their new furever home for about three weeks now. Both have fit in well and have become an important part of our family, and the family (they are even learning that certain sounds on the fire scanner mean dad is going somewhere).

Oh, and as for Roco’s big bad aggression problem, the picture below tells the story. With a happy home away from the shelter, he’s become a big baby that loves attention and loves to sleep.

For information on the Escambia County Animal Shelter, click here. Adoption fees include spay or neuter, microchip, heartworm tests, basic vaccinations including rabies, and other veterinary care as needed while at the shelter. photos, click to enlarge.


36 Responses to “Here’s What We Found When We Visited The Escambia County Animal Shelter”

  1. Dee Sullivan on June 18th, 2019 1:04 pm

    Happy story! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Theresa Blackwell on June 17th, 2019 9:38 pm

    Thank you for this lovely story. Well done and so grateful that Rosco got a home, too. We adopted a stray that still leaves us bleeding now and then. We think of it as character.

  3. Liza on June 17th, 2019 7:20 am

    My husband, who has been a cat owner for 50 years, was hesitant about adopting an older cat but fell in love with a 7 year old female Maine Coon. She’s 11 years old now and he will tell you she is the best cat he has ever own.

  4. Karen M Hughes on June 16th, 2019 9:32 pm

    Thank you for rescuing these beautiful babies. I hope you have a long and loving life with each of them.

  5. Lynn on June 16th, 2019 6:32 pm

    I absolutely love this! Well done! They both look fat and happy!!!

  6. Vanessa R Muncie on June 16th, 2019 9:25 am

    We adopted our Wizard from the shelter. Ginger tabby that was always scared. It took him a week to come out from behind the entertainment center. It’s been over a year now and he’s an attention hound. Loves his belly to be rubbed and doesn’t like to sleep alone. He’s a member of the family and we love him dearly…

  7. Geraldine Jordan on June 15th, 2019 6:14 pm

    I LOVE this story. We have three dogs that came from this shelter, all at different times. The last one is a chihuahua mix and I showed up on the spur of the moment near closing time on a Friday afternoon also, and then a thunderstorm showed up. I went after a dog I had seen on their website, but decided after meeting him, that he was bigger than I wanted, so the young lady that was showing me that dog asked if I would like to go through the backside and look at some others since by this time it was pouring rain. I did so, and met the sweetest little girl I could ever have hoped for. I was so impressed by everyone there, and how much they cared about the animals. I am so proud of our shelter.

  8. BiggBird on June 15th, 2019 4:55 pm

    ilysm Rosco I am so glad that you found a home and a place that you enjoy and the your owner saw the best in you when nobody else did

    LYSM Rosco

  9. Fellow Cat Adopter on June 14th, 2019 10:54 pm

    That is a beautiful story! I recall seeing you two and the shelter worker while you were visiting your new kitties in the Catnip Cafe. As I waiting to complete the paperwork to adopt my new kitty, you two walked through the front lobby, each carrying a kitty out the door. I remember the workers were announcing to each other that Oreo and Roscoe were going home together and there was a huge sense of excitement in the area. I specifically recall one of the volunteers asked if you would like to stop for a photo on your way out and you politely declined. I am thrilled that things are going well for you all! Kudos to the shelter staff and volunteers. My experience was delightful as well!

  10. Audrey on June 14th, 2019 9:18 pm

    This is a very heart touching story. I love knowing that Escambia County Animal Shelter employee’s do care about the animals they have to take care of. And congratulations for the 2 new members of your family. I’m so glad that they got their furever home.

  11. JOHN D OTNES on June 14th, 2019 8:11 pm


  12. Kathy on June 14th, 2019 5:13 pm

    We adopted a kitten on Mothers day wknd from the shelter too. We spent about 4 wknd between Santa Rosa animal shelter and escambia looking for just the right fit for us. It was hard tonwalk away with only one but we already have a 14 yr old senior cat at home. We agree Escambia animal shelter catnip cafe is impressive. Both shelters impressed us.

    Our new baby, Lacy, has been such a joy since joining our family. She has nade the hard days of chemo a little brighter.

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  13. Linda on June 14th, 2019 4:52 pm

    Thank you for loving these babies and giving them a 2nd chance at a new life and love.

  14. john smith on June 14th, 2019 3:19 pm

    I have a Boston Terrier named Oreo that I got from the same shelter. I would adopt them all if I could.

  15. Carlos E McGugin on June 14th, 2019 2:52 pm

    I have adopted from the shelter before. It is always sad to leave the other dogs behind.

  16. Tina Pagan on June 14th, 2019 1:39 pm

    Congratulations on adopting your new family members! Thanks for giving them both another chance but especially Rosco. Animals can definitely be reactive to stresses around them. But given the chance they can do great!
    I was part of the volunteer group with Rescue Rebuild that helped enhance the spaces for the animals. They made it a brighter, more comfortable spot for people to come meet them. It was a rewarding experience and I’d encourage anyone to volunteer for the shelter. A great deal of the public in our area has negative ideas about the shelter. Thanks for letting them know that things aren’t as they may suspect and they should visit and see for themselves.

  17. barbara on June 14th, 2019 1:06 pm

    Needing tissues now,crying happy tears……makes me very proud of our shelter,it truly is a “Shelter”,I love knowing there are people such as yourselves,you love animals and us too,we have,dogs,and cats,spayed, living forever,perhaps to out live us, lol….Thank you for this heart warming story……..

  18. Marshall on June 14th, 2019 12:54 pm

    Forget exactly the time frame, but over a year ago, a group called Rescue Rebuild came to Pensacola and did a lot of rebuilding and additions to the Animal Shelter. I worked with them for 8 full days and helped build the Catio and a lot of fencing, to add outside runs for the dogs. It has allowed the animals a lot more time outside of their Kennels and makes for better adoptions. Great story and the people at the Animal Shelter do a great job with all of the animals.

  19. Bill M on June 14th, 2019 12:50 pm

    Great story, I lost my cat Stella last year. She was 19 and had that same condition. She would want to sit in my lap and then bite me when she got tired on the petting. She didn’t get to sit in my lap much, Ha! She would also slap my 70 lb. bulldog every time he got too close her. At her heaviest weight she only weighed 7 lbs. but I’d seen her chase big dogs out of my front yard many times.

  20. J. Trudel on June 14th, 2019 11:51 am

    That was a wonderful story! Thank you for adopting them both!! It warms my heart that you took Rosco despite him biting you and your wife. That is a real content look on his face. Cheers!

  21. Lisa stewart on June 14th, 2019 10:46 am

    Thank u for your story. But more than a thank u for giving both Roscommon and Oreo a new loving home. I know god blesses the humans who help the furbabies. Happy life for these two special kitties. And yes, thanks for not letting that first bite make u change your mind about Roscommon! Everyone who adopts are all awesome people!

  22. Britnwy on June 14th, 2019 9:38 am

    I adopted a dog (Mickey) from them 2 weeks ago and I agree all of the staff are amazing and truely care about each and every animal!

  23. Tee bug on June 14th, 2019 8:57 am

    I give you a BIG A+ for printing this story we hear A lot of bass and negatives these days so it’s pleasing to read something positive kind of makes my day. Thanks Tee bug

  24. A Alex on June 14th, 2019 8:43 am

    Great story, wife and I has the pleasure of owning two German Shepards (full blooded) that we got from them four years ago.
    They were right at a year old and surely are brother and sister. They are great pets(protected)… My third and fourth animals control pets I’ve gotten over in my lifetime. These animals at the shelter will give you a lifetime of commitment when adopted.

  25. Aleisha Blair on June 14th, 2019 8:27 am

    I’m so happy Rosco & Oreo are doing well! Thank you so much for adopting them both

  26. Karen on June 14th, 2019 8:19 am

    What a heart warming story! I’m so glad you & your wife adopted TWO babies. That was also very sweet of you to not give up on Rosco at first bite :-)
    I know they love you guys & ya’ll are angels for adopting them. Sorry to hear about your kitty who passed.

  27. Sammie on June 14th, 2019 8:13 am

    That is SO nice to hear. The last i was over there was years ago and it was dismal and depressing. And thank you for taking a chance on Rosco!

    I love this story! thanks for putting it out there. And THANK YOU to all of those 2 legged animals at the shelter who worked so hard to make it a place like this.

  28. ThePreachersWife on June 14th, 2019 8:08 am

    You made me cry happy tears. Congrats to you, your family, and Rosco and Oreo!

  29. Julia on June 14th, 2019 7:43 am

    What an awesome story!! Thanks for sharing!

  30. grumpy cat fan on June 14th, 2019 7:40 am

    Good to see. I’m really tempted to get another ‘tuxedo’ cat. Cats are so funny and independent.

  31. Kim Stefansson on June 14th, 2019 7:37 am

    Gotta love those ears! Thank you for a great story to start the day!

    Oreo!!! Perfect name!

  32. Ashley on June 14th, 2019 6:58 am

    I can’t love this enough! It’s nice for those in leadership to put a good word out there for our shelter. It was many years I thought this was a bad place, I have grown to know the shelter is not!

  33. Animallvr on June 14th, 2019 6:12 am

    Thank you for sharing your story! And congratulations on your new family members, there is nothing like having loving cats in the house! Cat scratches and all!!!

  34. Wilykyote on June 14th, 2019 5:02 am

    Nice story and write-up William! I’m betting Rosco is a winner
    and will wedge himself into your everyday lives. Cats and their
    personalities are often overlooked when looking for a pet and can
    almost talk if encouraged ! A “coonie” even if mixed is kinda
    special !

  35. Jan on June 14th, 2019 4:57 am

    Great story.

  36. Cat Lover on June 14th, 2019 2:48 am

    I Love this story! It’s good to know such loving people are taking good care of these loat, hurt, and lonely animals. So glad to see these sweet kitties get a great forever home! Please continue to give updates when possible.

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