Abused kitten on the mend at ARC
A good Samaritan passing by saw a horrific sight over a week ago in North Fort Myers — a group of young children abusing a cat.
But this wasn’t ordinary abuse, said Animal Refuge Center Board Member Betty Hughes. “It was one of the worst abuse cases I’ve seen in my nine years of working with the center.
“Life on the streets is hard on a kitten but usually due to encounters with wildlife or speeding cars,” Hughes continued. “This time the attackers were the two legged kind and youngsters themselves. Several boys, appearing to be around 8 or 10 years old, repeatedly beat a defenseless kitten with hoses.
“As luck would have it, a vet of the Iraq war, recently laid off, was driving in the same area looking for employment and saw the attackers,” she said. “He pulled his car into the open field scaring the boys back into the woods. Ever so gently lifting the motionless kitten into his car, ARC was called and made immediate plans to meet this good Samaritan at the Animal Hospital at Kelly Crossing.”
Hughes said she could not hold back the tears when she saw how really horrendous the abuse was when she went to the animal hospital.
“My heart was broken,” she said.
But she credits that good Samaritan, who wishes to remain anonymous, with saving the kitten’s life.
“We need more people like him in the world,” she said.
ARC Board Chairman Lee Allor agreed.
“We’re very thankful that the young man — the Iraq vet had the kindness and compassionate to stop and help this helpless creature,” Allor said. “Everyone that was involved in this whole rescue and recovery have done an amazing job.”
Hughes and Allor also thank Dr. Richard Carpenter of the Animal Hospital at Kelly Crossing for doing an amazing job with saving young Palooka.
“He’s been a tremendous friend to ARC and animals,” Hughes said. “He was even seated with his family one Thanksgiving when he responded to our call.”
Even very shortly after treatment, the kitten has been playful and still shows innocence and trust to all he encounters.
“He’s so feisty it’s incredible,” said Allor.
Hughes recalled the first few days of Palooka’s treatment.
“Because of this kitten’s strong will to live, he was named Palooka and received immediate care to cleanse his wounds and provide antibiotics,” she said. “Temporary sutures were done to give the shredded skin a chance to heal. Torn foot pads were cleaned and it was discovered the majority of his rear claws had been pulled out.
“Things progressed slowly the first few days and our hopes rose that his skin would recover. However by the end of the first week it was necessary for Palooka to have a second surgery to remove large areas of dying tissue. A team of two doctors started at the head and worked towards the hips removing non-viable skin and then sewed what tissue was left together,” she continued.
“Palooka is looking at long-term hospital care under careful observation to halt further skin deterioration and massive infection. The skin is a mammal’s largest organ and to lose such a large area presents the inability to ward off infection and regulate body temperature. Palooka continues to focus on his little stuffed toy seemingly oblivious to his treatment plan or the possible need for skin grafts.”
The kitten’s story appeared on several local TV news broadcasts after the incident, with several area residents stating they would adopt the cat once he was healed.
“For his recovery, he’ll be staying at my house — at the ‘Hughes Hospital,'” she said.
Now ARC is looking for any donations to go toward Palooka’s extensive medical bills. Donations can be sent to the Palooka Fund at ARC PO Box 6642, Fort Myers, FL 33911. The center is located at 18011 Old Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers, near the Lee Civic Center.
Incorporated in 1988, Animal Refuge Center is a not-for-profit animal welfare society, dedicated to caring for all homeless animals brought to its care at its 22 1?2 -acre sanctuary in North Fort Myers. The sanctuary houses thirty canine lodges, a Canine Training Center, a Cat Adoption Center, twelve feline facilities, and is home to more than 440 cats and 60 dogs.
For more information visit www.AnimalRefuge.com or call 731-3535.