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Joanne LaCrosse and her kitten Alastor. LaCrosse won a contest sponsored by Blue Buffalo that gave $5,000 to the Berkshire Humane Society along with food and pet toys.

One-Eyed Cat's Pet Contest Win Benefits Humane Society

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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Alastor was found abandoned in the woods and taken to Berkshire Humane Society. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A local animal lover and her adorable one-eyed cat made the Berkshire Humane Society's day by winning a contest that benefits the shelter.

Joanne LaCrosse won the Berkshire Humane Society a $5,000 prize, 1,000 pounds of Blue Buffalo pet food, and 100 Kong pet toys after her cat Alastor Mini Moody was awarded first place in a national pet contest.

LaCrosse told the story of how her furry friend has improved her life to the pet food company and the public voted Alastor a winner.

"All of the things that the Humane Society goes through on a daily basis to keep animals that they don't know healthy and get them able to be adopted is a fantastic thing," LaCrosse said. "So I wanted to be able to give back to them in any way that I could."

LaCrosse had entered the contest last minute after contacting Blue Buffalo to inquire about coupons because Alastor requires organic pet food out of health concerns.

About five days later, the company reached out to LaCrosse to inform her about a contest it was having that ended in three days. LaCrosse submitted a photo and a short written segment about how her rescue kitten has aided her health and the incredible journey he has gone on himself, not thinking anything of it.

The general public and Blue Buffalo voted Alastor the winner out of nearly 6,000 entries.

Alastor Moody, whose name was Sprite before adoption, was born with the feline herpes virus and is missing one eye. His other eye is also particularly blind because his iris is attached to his cornea.

Alastor was found in the woods of New York, possibly thrown away for his abnormalities. He was matted and badly emaciated with sores on his gums and a broken tooth. He was brought to the Humane Society, which assessed his health needs and put him up for adoption.

LaCrosse went to the Barker Road shelter looking for a small dog, as she always had animals in her life growing up. She thought the presence of a pet companion would aid her mental health struggles and chronic pain.

Even though she isn't a huge cat person, she said, something in her heart told her to take a look at the cat section upon visiting the shelter. Her husband and two children were in attendance, looking at the cats and seeing if any looked back.

After turning to walk away, LaCrosse noticed a door with a sign that read "Hi, my name is Sprite, I am 7 months old. I am feline herpes positive. I love to snuggle."

She looked at Alastor's picture and said, "does he have one eye or am I losing it?" His special characteristic immediately made her want to take him home.

Upon looking into the room's window, the family couldn't see the kitten at first because his color blended into the cat tower he was sitting on. Upon hearing the voice of LaCrosse's husband and realizing people were looking at him, the kitten fell off his tower in excitement.



It was this exact moment that LaCrosse knew she had found her new furry friend. She joked that this was something she would do.

Local real estate agent Shelley Anne Cozzaglio had sponsored Alastor's adoption in full because Cozzaglio once had adopted a blind kitty that stole her heart.

LaCrosse swore she would never get another cat after her last cat died of cancer many years ago, but is forever grateful that she took the one-eyed cutie home.

Alastor was named for the Harry Potter character Alastor "Mad Eye" Moody, who lost an eye in the First Wizarding War and who would go on to battle against the dark arts.

A sufferer of mental health episodes that leave her not wanting to get out of bed, LaCrosse said she had made herself the only person who can feed Alastor in the morning and he is her motivation to get up.

"Having him makes me take that step to get out of bed," LaCrosse said. "And do what I need to do to take care of him."

Alastor even pulled LaCrosse out of an episode one day, as he seemed to notice her distress and started meowing to her..

LaCrosse describes Alastor as a "cat-dog" because he likes to play rough and is very affectionate toward his family. He sits on command, comes to his name, and even plays fetch.

 "I'm waiting for him to bark, I'm waiting for it,"  Lacrosse joked.

Alastor also figured out that if he bangs his foot, he will get people's attention and woke up LaCrosse one day when he was hungry.

He also enjoys car rides and even visited Whitney's Farm this fall.

"Now he gets to the point where sometimes he will meow when we leave the house and looks at us like he wants to go," she said. 

Alastor has been slowly putting on healthy weight since his adoption, starting at about 6 pounds and now weighing in at nearly 11 pounds. LaCrosse's veterinarian told her that Alastor can be anywhere from 16 to 20 pounds and be perfectly healthy, as he is part Maine Coon.


Tags: Berkshire Humane Society,   contest,   pets,   

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Pittsfield Seeks Solutions to Daytime Warming Shelters for Homeless

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mayor Linda Tyer this week said the city of Pittsfield is feeling discouraged from the lack of community organizations willing to host a warming shelter that will house homeless individuals during the hours that the St. Joseph's temporary winter shelter on Maplewood Avenue is closed.

"We're concerned too, and we're feeling quite discouraged that a number of our community partners have declined our request to help with a daytime warming center but we're not going to give up," she said at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Maffuccio addressed the mayor with two petitions in regard to the homeless population.

Maffuccio requested that the mayor, or other departments or organizations, provide an update on the plans for a warming station for the homeless and that the mayor develops a task force for the purpose of developing a permanent housing solution for chronically homeless residents.

These petitions were both referred to Tyer by the council.

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