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Best In Show: Spotlight on Volunteer Thi Vu

When Thi Vu moved from North Carolina to New Haven three years ago to begin her PhD program at Yale University, it wasn't long before she started making lots of new friends. The fact that many of them were four legged was a big plus, in her opinion.

"I'd never had pets growing up," Thi said. "I adopted my first cat, Mars, when I was 23. After adopting Mars, I gradually learned that I loved to spend time with animals." Thi was soon volunteering at a rescue in Raleigh as a foster mom for cats. She knew that when she moved to Connecticut that it was something she wanted to continue. "It was one of the first things I started when I moved here," she said.

This month, Thi is moving back to North Carolina to complete her program and everyone at Where the Love Is Animal Rescue -- especially the dogs -- are sad to see her go. When she wasn't knee-deep in her studies, Thi was knee-deep in cleaning the kennels, feeding the puppies, and taking dogs on walks to exercise them and help them learn to socialize.

Thi has wonderful stories about all the cats she fostered in North Carolina: Petunia, whose four kittens would poop "EVERYWHERE...on the walls, the closet doors, the bathtub, bedsheets, comforter. I did a deep clean 2 or 3 times a day, which definitely prepared me for cleaning duty at WTLI, ha ha!" Then there was Ellie, who was born with a cleft pallet and couldn't eat on her own. Thi bottle fed Ellie three times a day so she could put on weight. When she moved to Connecticut Thi had to return Ellie to the rescue. "But I ended up adopting her a couple of months later. I flew to North Carolina to pick her up and she flew back with me to Connecticut because I loved her so much!

Working with challenging cats was excellent preparation for Thi, who eventually fostered Honey, a shelter dog who was surrendered with a very sad story and a troubled medical history. Honey's owner was killed in a car accident and the owner's family was unable to care for her. Honey had a large "cherry" in one of her eyes and her tongue flopped awkwardly from her mouth due to missing teeth. "When I first got her she was scared of going on walks and getting into cars," Thi said. "Eventually, we worked on her walking and just being more social. Honey is now living her best life with her new mom, a dog friend, Buddy, and a huge, fenced-in yard. I miss her every day!"

We will miss you every day, too, Thi! Your four-legged friends -- and your two-legged friends -- wish you the best of luck in your studies and look forward to hearing great things.

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