The 12 strays of Christmas: Meet Charlie

The Kansas City Star

We’re getting all warm and fuzzy with “The 12 Strays of Christmas,” introducing you to a dozen shelter dogs and cats looking for a home for the holidays and beyond.

On each day, along with Star photographer Allison Long’s holiday-themed portraits, we’ll tell you a little about each pet and where to find it.

It’s 12 days of adorable overload. Happy holidays.

Update: All but one of our “12 Strays” has been adopted (story here). The one still waiting for a home: Charlie. Read on:


Charlie is a 41/2-year-old Anatolian shepherd mix. He was adopted out by Wayside Waifs in October but returned less than a month later because the family couldn’t exercise him enough.

Charlie is gentle, easygoing and “just a lover,” says Wayside’s Danielle Sather. He knows “sit,” “shake” and “down.” He’s still not quite housebroken. If he goes to a home with kids or other canines, he’ll need to meet them first. (, 816-761-8151, adoption center in south Kansas City)



You’d like to think this kind of thing wouldn’t happen. People move away and just leave their pet behind.

But that’s Simon’s story. The 3-year-old male Siamese was brought in to Great Plains SPCA by neighbors.

He’s very social and obviously a handsome fellow. At The Star’s photo shoot, he also seemed to have a bit of a cold, which explains why we were calling him the “sneezy Siamesey.”

One more thing to know about Simon: He has feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV.

Great Plains’ Rachel Hodgson says that although Simon has a compromised immune system, he should live a normal life span. He’s not on any special medications. He can co-habitate with other cats as long as everyone gets along — no violent catfights!

And here’s some good news: Simon now has a home.

A stray factoid: There’s a reason Simon was at Great Plains SPCA’s Missouri-side center: Kansas law says shelters can’t adopt out cats infected with FIV.

FIV-positive kitties that receive good medical care and are kept in a stress-free, indoor environment can live relatively comfortable lives for months to years before the disease reaches its chronic stages, according to the ASPCA.

FIV, by the way, is not the same disease as FeLV, feline leukemia virus.



Chloe a 2-year-old shepherd mix, was given up because her former owner couldn’t afford to care for her. But here’s some holiday cheer: This sweet, friendly dog has been adopted from the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, which still has plenty of pets who need homes.

A stray suggestion: It might seem like just one more expense, but getting your pet microchipped could end up being the best investment you ever make. (A microchip, which contains a unique ID number, is about the size of a grain of rice. It’s injected under the loose skin between the pet’s shoulder blades.)

Dogs and cats without tags or microchips sometimes end up in animal shelters, and a shelter has no way of knowing if the pet has an owner or how to contact that person.

Because cats often don’t wear collars, a microchip is especially important. According to Petfinder, a recent study showed that fewer than 2 percent of wayward cats without microchips were returned home.



Princess Sugar Plum, a 6-year-old miniature poodle/Maltese mix, is off the market! She was adopted from Wayside Waifs, which has plenty of other delightful dogs and cats looking for good homes.



Over our two-day 12 Strays of Christmas photo shoot, we met both an Elvis and a Presley. The handsome fellow here? That’d be Presley, from Great Plains SPCA.

He’s a playful, 1-year-old cairn terrier. But while you just can’t help falling in love with Presley, we must tell you he found a home days after we took his picture. (So did Elvis, at KC Pet Project.)

We know, we know. We ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog.



Pretty much every cat thinks it belongs on a pedestal, so we figured Nessie wouldn’t mind striking a pose on one.

Nessie is a 2-year-old who arrived at the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City with her three kittens (now in foster care). She’s sweet-natured, laid-back and gets along well with other cats. Plus she’s been spayed, so no more kittens.

A stray factoid: On HSGKC’s Dog Blog, adoptable pooches tell you about themselves (with maybe just a bit of help from the bipeds).



Most cats are excited to see a Christmas tree go up. Climbing it, batting at dangly ornaments, hiding in the middle then pouncing at unsuspecting passersby — what’s not to love?

Today we’re introducing you to Little Miss (left) and O’Malley from the Great Plains SPCA shelter. Little Miss is a female tortoiseshell; her littermate is a male orange tabby. The kittens, now 3 months old, were heard meowing inside the walls of a house, apparently waiting for their mama to return.

The little cats were rescued, and — fortunately for the kittens but unfortunately for you — both were snapped up last weekend, just a couple of days after our photo shoot. But plenty of other great pets are available.

A stray witticism, overheard at our photo shoot (and featured on T-shirts and such): “Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.”



We’re thinking someone was in the midst of holiday treat-making when choosing names for these pups. Say hello to Fudge (left) and her sister Butter, who at last report were available at KC Pet Project’s adoption center at Zona Rosa.

The pups, about 8 weeks old, are half border collie, half something else and completely adorable. Their foster mom brought them to our photo shoot last week.

Fudge and Butter were turned in to KC Pet Project, which runs Kansas City’s municipal shelter, along with two littermates, Bear and Sugar. The sibs were adopted last weekend at KC Pet Project’s location at Petco on 95th Street in Overland Park.

A stray factoid: Shelters really do have to get creative at naming their animals. Some just go through the alphabet. Some turn to celebrity knockoffs (Meowly Cyrus and Fleayonce, cats currently available at KC Pet Project). But this time of year, it’s not unusual to run across holiday names such as Reindeer and Mistletoe (actual pooches at the shelter).



Willis is a friendly 4-year-old Jack Russell/rat terrier mix. The Humane Society of Greater Kansas City says he’s smart and active. He knows “sit” and “down.” He can jump up in the air to catch treats and would probably love a game of Frisbee.

(He has also been known to use his agility skills to climb tall fences, so prospective owners should keep that in mind.)

Willis can also calm down nicely and morph into an affectionate lap dog. The shelter says he needs a home without cats or small kids.


A stray suggestion: If the holidays are crazy at your place, or if you’ll be traveling, consider looking for a new pet early in the new year. The Humane Society typically sees a lot of adoptions in January, board member Jana Brunner says. It’s a “nice, quiet time” when you’re likely to be indoors more and can help a fur baby get acclimated.



Meet India, or Santa Paws, as she might be known in this outfit. India is a 2 1/2-year-old pit bull who was picked up as a stray. But — she was adopted last weekend, a couple of days after our photo shoot. She moved in with a German shepherd mix. KC Pet Project, which had been caring for India, has plenty of other good pets just waiting for you.

A stray thought: Ever considered becoming a foster pet parent, to help prepare a shelter animal for its forever home? Now’s a great time, especially if you have some time off coming up. Bringing an adoptable pet into your home temporarily means “they don’t have to spend the holidays cooped up in a kennel,” says KC Pet Project’s Tori Fugate.



Fitz is a 5-month-old domestic shorthair living, for now, at Wayside Waifs in south Kansas City. He likes to cuddle. And purr. He has a black-and-white brother at the shelter, too.



This 2-year-old female German shepherd can be found at Great Plains SPCA’s Independence location. She’s very attentive, sweet, gentle and “just kinda happy-go-lucky,” shelter manager Jackie Lightle says. Fiona was picked up as a stray.

Learn more about the series here. And if you can’t adopt a pet now but would still like to help, look here.

To reach Tim Engle, call 816-234-4779 or send email to On Twitter @tim_engle


The adoptable dogs and cats you’ll meet in our “12 Strays of Christmas” series were provided by these four animal shelters. If you’re thinking about adding a four-legged family member, visit your favorite shelter or do a little window-shopping first on its website.

▪ Great Plains SPCA, locations in Merriam and Independence,, 913-831-7722 (Merriam), 816-621-7722 (Independence).

▪ Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, Kansas City, Kan.,, 913-596-1000.

▪ KC Pet Project, Kansas City, with adoption centers at Zona Rosa and Petco on 95th Street in Overland Park,, 816-513-9821.

▪ Wayside Waifs, south Kansas City,, 816-761-8151.


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