How London’s abandoned pets found new homes

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Hi folks, welcome to Parallel! Our plan is to share with you the best of culture, creativity and community from across Europe – a plan it’s hard to find fault in. It’s going to be great, and it’s fantastic to have you on board.

We thought it’d be fun to kick things off with a photo-story from one of our favourite guys, photographer and Londoner Alex De Mora.

London has a reputation for being an unwelcoming place, full of unfriendly, grim-faced Londoners trudging joylessly around the city, not talking to each other on buses and tutting at crying babies in shops. While it’s worth conceding that there’s a shred of truth to this, it's unfair to tar an entire city’s population with the same miserable brush. 

To redress the balance and get Parallel off to a positive start, we asked Alex to come up with something that would showcase London’s capacity for kindness, joy and love, and he came back at us with this collection of images of rescued pets and their owners, coupled with some cute tales of how they ended up together. There's an albino pygmy hedgehog in this - who knew that was a thing?

Shen & Blitz




"Blitz was found with a group of young people sitting outside a sweet shop in East London.He was four-and-a-half months old with cropped ears. He couldn't walk properly so we asked them what the story was with the dog.

They said they found him—cold and alone—in the breeder’s garden chained up in a corner away from his bowl, so they jumped over the fence and stole him. They sold him to us, so now Blitz is a happy, healthy, beautiful-natured pit bull. He’s friendly to everyone.” 

Mandy & Blue



"Blue is a blue-tongued skink. She’s been with me a few years now. She came in with nearly no toes and a bad eye infection. They are meant to be burrowers in the wild but she was kept on newspaper. She dug and dug until she lost her toes. Knowing what your animal needs is very important. A bit of research goes a long way." 

Khaya & Daphne




"The Soi Dog Foundation found Daphne on a beach in Phuket bleeding to death from machete wounds. One front leg was completely severed and the other was hanging by a thread. There are so many animals with heart-breaking stories, but the sheer cruelty of this one made it impossible for me to forget.

Together with the charity, I made the appropriate arrangements and, after a blood test and three month wait, Daphne flew from Thailand to London. She’s had some reconstructive surgery on her leg since then but nothing slows her down: she zooms around on her three legs. Although she'll probably always be nervous in some situations, she is the most sweet and affectionate animal. She's also incredibly intelligent and trusting of those she knows despite all she's been through."  

Nigel & Jasper



"Jasper is a Congo African Grey parrot. He is 19 years old and had been with the same family since he was a baby. He was feed a poor diet of walnuts and a poor parrot food. This caused him to pluck [peck away at their own feathers, a form of self-mutilation]. When he came into the rescue he was bleeding on his wing tops. Jasper is now on a good diet of a quality seed mix, fresh fruit and veg. He has been vet checked and has a slight heart murmur. His feathers are slowly returning."

Mark & the Hissing Cockroaches 





“I rescued these Madagascan hissing cockroaches from being eaten by lizards. They were up for sale on eBay as lizard food so I bought them and now they lead a life of luxury feeding on apples and cat food, safe from hungry lizards. Cockroaches have been scientifically proven to have personalities and these guys really do each behave differently.”

Mike & Marley





"Marley’s one is a rather sad tale. His previous owners were drug addicts and locked him and his twin brother in a wardrobe to starve to death. The neighbours reported the sounds of cats crying and fighting. The RSPCA arrived. The poor little man was skin and bones and had fought his brother to death and eaten him to survive.

When I saw him he had been at the shelter for 4 months. He was still very skinny and no one wanted him as he looked very ill and had lost a lot of fur. I've had him ever since I first saw him. He was scared of everything when I got him but now he is the most social cat I have ever come across." 

Toby & Herb





“I always wanted a pet snake since about the age of five. Two years ago after months of stoned evenings reading about python care, I decided it was time to get one. I went for a rescue. These guys live till 30 and some people just aren't prepared to keep a living creature that long. I'd like to think when I’m pushing 60 I’ll be walking to the shop with Herb draped around my neck. Herb is actually a reference to my favourite graphic designer: Herb Lubalin. It’s not a reference to ganja as everyone thinks.”

Josh & Ishmael 





“Mice have a surprisingly broad range of emotions and diverse means of communication. They use sounds, often outside of a human’s auditory range, smells, and even facial expressions to ‘talk’ to one another. It is thought, though not yet proven, that they are even capable of empathy.

But, like many brothers, Isaac and Ishmael did not get on. As they grew up, fighting between them became more and more intense. Ishmael still has a tiny bite-mark in his ear courtesy of Isaac. Isaac was a dick. The pair had to be separated, and since his ‘rescue’ Ishmael has become a prized and handsome pet, happily exploring my desk during late-night writing sessions.”

Lucy & Molly





“As far as we know, Molly was found dumped in a park in Gravesend and handed to the RSPCA. A couple adopted her but then had a baby and decided they didn’t want her anymore. A friend of our family knew them and took her but he was 88 and sadly passed away. Then it went to my mum and eventually my husband and I fell in love with her.”

Anthony & George Kingsley and their Boa Constrictors





"The yellow boa is a Carol Albino. When we got him he was covered in mites and much smaller than I expected. The fact that a snake has mites does not meant the previous owner was not a good keeper, but the fact that the snake was also very small suggested his care had not been as good as it could have been. He came with a ‘home’ which was completely unsuitable for a boa, and his small size was probably due to inadequate housing. 

We put him in a much larger container with properly regulated heat. We washed off the mites and sprayed the new container with an anti-mite spray. He’s now about average size. Boas are hardy animals – but they need space to grow and move." 

Annabel & Fuzzypeg 





"I adopted my African Pygmy Hedgehog, Fuzzypeg, from a friend who didn’t have time for him anymore. I love having him as a pet because he is easy to care for and as he is nocturnal, it doesn’t matter if I am out of the house during the day. As you can imagine, hedgehogs are very prickly and as they mature, “quilling” takes place where they shed their young quills for stronger ones. I always find these around the house and they are so painful to tread on!"

James Edson with Missy and Buddha





"
Both Missy and Buddha were rescued at different times. Missy by me from some man who wasn't nice to her, and Buddha by my friend Pepper: he was used for dog fighting but wasn't any good so got thrown in the bin. He's a big softy. They're both the coolest, and proper characters. It would be hard to imagine not having them around now. They're like members of the family."