This article was featured in WYDaily on 1/26/24
Like many arriving strays to The Heritage Humane Society, young cats Dean and Sam had no idea what life had in store. Nor did they know how a special young boy whom they never met would continue his joy of giving from beyond that would end up touching their little lives forever.

From stray to socialized

Dean and Sam, believed to be brothers, arrived at The Heritage Humane Society as strays on Nov. 3, 2023. Along with them were four other kittens, all around six months old. The six were named by shelter staff after characters from the show, Supernatural. Upon arrival, both onyx-colored kittens Dean and Sam displayed signs of nervousness and fear upon their arrival at Magruder Elementary School.

The shelter’s staff and volunteers recognized the need for patience and care to help Dean and Sam and their siblings acclimate to their new environment. Initially shy and withdrawn, they would hide when being fed or having their kennel cleaned. This is where the popular lickable cat treats, found on the shelter’s Amazon Wish List, helped to close the gap. Volunteers and staff dedicated time and patience attracting the little fellas to the treats. As trust was built, the kittens gradually opened up through the efforts of socialization.
Working with undersocialized cats is much easier on both cat and human with methods including the willingness to spend time, patience and yes, even appeal with cat treats to begin building trust. “Providing a place to hide, but not isolate entirely, and calmly providing food in your presence are two initial steps in beginning to build trust with an undersocialized cat,” shares Tracy Magro, Animal Care and Pathways Manager. “By providing food only in your presence, the cat will begin to calm and that is when you can try to pet it and slowly introduce toys, further establishing that you can be trusted, which is what helped us win over Dean and Sam.”

From strong to Supernatural

Soon, Dean and Sam were ready to level up by moving to Schwarty’s Cat Cove located in New Town. They are continuing to get more comfortable and confident around people, and hope to soon be adopted. During this journey, Dean and Sam’s names caught the attention of Krista Pak and her family.

Pak shares that on Nov. 3, 2018, their 12-year-old son Wes succumbed to his hard-fought, seven-and-a-half year battle with neuroblastoma including five relapses. Wes was an old soul with a passion for giving back, helping the environment and supporting those in need. He even started his own nonprofit, The Wes Strong Foundation, dedicated to both helping children living with pediatric cancer and protecting nature, which his family proudly carries on today in his memory.

Pak says, “It was not uncommon to see Wes donating his own birthday money to others before buying things for himself. It has now been five years since Wes passed and every year on Dec. 21, what should be Wes’s birthday, our family donates what would be his birthday money to a cause near and dear to Wes’ heart.”
This year, the family was drawn to kittens Sam and Dean. “Their names caught my immediate attention as our family, Wes especially, are huge fans of the show Supernatural,” says Pak.

A sign from Wes

While in treatment, Wes had the opportunity to visit the set and spend time with the cast. This made a huge impact on him during his own battle. Pak then noticed that the kittens’ intake date was Nov. 3, the anniversary of Wes’s passing. Seeing the connections, Pak knew it wasn’t a coincidence. On this past Dec. 21, what should have been Wes’s 18th birthday, the family decided to sponsor Sam and Dean’s adoptions in his memory sharing, “We hope that in doing so it will lead to them having a happy and loving forever home. I know Wes was sending me signs that day and we are grateful that we had the opportunity to share a bit of Wes’s love and legacy with The Heritage Humane Society. We are stronger together.”

“The connection between kittens Dean and Sam and the late Wes Pak is a poignant testament to the enduring power of love and compassion,” says Kimberly Laska, CAWA, Executive Director of The Heritage Humane Society. “Connections endure, and we are grateful to Wes and the Pak family for helping to make their path more promising for the future by generously covering their adoption fees.”
Dean and Sam are available for adoption through Schwartzy’s Cat Cove located in New Town at 5102 Main St Suite B, Williamsburg. Amanda Wilbourne, Owner of Nautical Dog/Schwarty’s Cat Cove shares, “Sam and Dean are the sweetest brothers. We have enjoyed seeing their playful side come out at the Cove. They take a few minutes to warm up to you, but once they do, they love the purrs and pets.”

Adoptable pets like Dean and Sam

The shelter is filled with homeless pets who are just as eager to find their forever homes. Nearly 190 dogscats and small pets are currently in their care. Adoptable pets are available to meet during The Heritage Humane Society’s visiting and adopting hours from 12 to 4:30 p.m., Tues. through Sun.
The Heritage Humane Society welcomes donations including the sponsoring of pet adoption fees like the ones The Wes Strong Foundation provided.
To learn more, visit, call 757-221-0150, or visit The Heritage Humane Society located at 430 Waller Mill Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23185.

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