Kaitlyn Leeper is more than just an animal lover. They're her passion.
"I want to help them," she said.
Leeper's mom lets her keep these rescue animals all under one roof "so that they can live in a good home." But it was time for the pre-vet major to go back to school, so she went to the Lake Dallas Animal Shelter to find the perfect college companion.
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And there she met Theo.
Leeper checked the shelter's website to find out what the $50 adoption fee included and learned they tested for feline leukemia and dewormed. But once Theo was home, Leeper became concerned.
"What we noticed was kind of like a raspy noise in her chest," she said. "That's why we took her to the vet."
The vet found worms, an upper respiratory infection and something more serious.
"She's definitely feline leukemia positive," Leeper said.
It's a virus that affects the immune system, cutting Theo's life very short and devastating Leeper.
"She's my baby," she said. "I brought her in and she's sick and there's no way to cure it."
For Leeper's mom, Karen, watching it all unfold has been heartbreaking.
"This is my baby. She's all I have and she felt like Theo is all she has and Theo is going to die. We just don't know when."
Leeper's mom checked the animal shelter's website again, but noticed some changes, including the line about testing for feline leukemia being removed. A new disclaimer had also been added saying they "cannot guarantee any animal's health or temperament."
"Had they tested as they should have, had they done the things that their website says that they do that's their mission and their values, this would never had been an issue," Leeper's mother said.
NBC 5 responds spoke with a Lake Dallas official on the phone. He confirmed the kitten was not tested for feline leukemia, but said their website now reflects their new policies. The city ended up paying Kaitlyn Leeper $232 for Theo's medical fees.
We spoke with a local vet who has this advice for new pet owners:
Always have veterinarian examine the pet within 48 hours of adoption. Make sure all vaccination and treatment records are provided and check with the shelter to see if a vet evaluates each pet before they're available for adoption. These are tips that Leeper and her mother wish they knew before adopting.