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Loving animal deserves better than abandonment

July 10th, 2007, 10:20 AM
From the Halifax Chronicle Herald:


Loving animal deserves better than abandonment

By RICK CONRAD Petpourri

SWEETIE PIE was a matted little tuft of fur when she came into Erin Hawboldt’s life. She left it a month later, peacefully in Hawboldt’s airy back porch, apparently from a pre-existing heart murmur.

In the time that Hawboldt first found the cottonball-coloured kitty huddled under her barbecue in her Dartmouth backyard in early June, she tried to give Sweetie Pie a good life. Her experience has reinforced for Hawboldt the dangers of people abandoning their pets.

"The last night, there was nothing to say that there was anything wrong. I patted her and played with her, I put her on my lap and she curled up and she purred as usual," Hawboldt says.

"The next morning, I found her in her litter pan. She had gone to use the litter pan and she just (died)."

She and her husband, both retired and with two cats of their own, weren’t looking for another pet. But when the white, long-haired kitty with pale gold eyes started showing up in their backyard with a grey cat, Hawboldt began leaving food and water for them.

One night, with a forecast of heavy rain, she brought the white cat in for the night. The grey cat was a lot more skittish.

And there Sweetie Pie stayed for the rest of her life.

"With her temperament and everything, I would say somebody missed out on a really beautiful cat, a real charmer," Hawboldt says.

Hawboldt’s vet diagnosed the one-year-old with a heart murmur. She tested positive for feline leukemia, which meant that she would have to remain isolated from the Hawboldts’ other cats. It also meant that she probably couldn’t go to a shelter.

While sometimes manageable, feline leukemia is contagious and can leave cats open to chronic, sometimes fatal, illnesses. The vet told Hawboldt to bring Sweetie Pie back in a month to see how she was doing.

"So I was looking at quite a dilemma as to what to do. But I just decided I’d give her all the love and care and the best chance at beating this that I can and we’ll just deal with whatever comes down."

Hawboldt believes Sweetie Pie (so named because "she was such a sweetheart") may have been abandoned by neighbours who had recently moved. And it appeared she had been abused because she "absolutely freaked" around children.

Her story should serve as a warning to pet owners who leave a cat behind when they move or their circumstances change, wrongly believing the animal will be OK on its own, Hawboldt says.

"Some people seem to think that they can just dump an animal and it will survive," she says. "There are lots of other animals that could endanger a cat like that and there’s the feline leukemia. In a lot of cases, it’s just a death sentence."

You can’t rely on your pet being lucky enough to find a family like the Hawboldts. At least Sweetie Pie, wherever she came from, had a comfortable last month.

Hawboldt got to work quickly on cleaning up Sweetie Pie’s matted fur, which was so bad that the vet had to shave some areas that Hawboldt couldn’t cut out with scissors.

And while it took some coaxing and cuddling to get Sweetie Pie comfortable with the mat removal, "she would lick my hand when the mat came free. And the cutest thing she used to do, every so often she would sit down and she would stretch both her back legs to their maximum, as if to say it feels so good to have those mats gone."

The month that Sweetie Pie spent with them was wonderful, Hawboldt says.

"She was an absolute little treasure, she was so affectionate and loving. . . . It broke my heart when I found her (passed away)."

Hawboldt had her cremated and buried her ashes in the backyard, near where she first found her, by her "favourite hole in the fence."

"If it makes somebody think before they do something like letting a cat roam or dumping a cat, it will be worth it."

July 10th, 2007, 10:50 AM
That artical made me sad. The statistics of abandoned animals must be much higher that we know because of those loving people who take them into their homes and therefore they are not counted.

July 10th, 2007, 03:08 PM
I was just going to copy and paste this very same article and Dogastrophe beat me to it, lol Good tho - it means many people are reading it, I hope!! I hope it reaches out to those who read the Herald in Nova Scotia and the Maritimes and makes people think! I do not understand people who abandon animals of any kind - and sadly, I suspect there are some who we'll never get to with newspaper articles or a media campaign of any kind. Those are the ones who require legal intervention!!

Thx for being ahead of me in posting it Dogastrophe. You now all too well - having rescued your cute pie - what it is like when poele abandon their pets. I have to asdmit I have been in the same situation but I think that applies to many of us here!

Did you also read the one about dog parks? Off and on leash ones?

July 12th, 2007, 07:31 PM
I know what you mean about people abandoning their cats. In the last month I was called out to two different apartments and one house. These people moved and simply just left their cats behind. One apartment it was a mom cat and her 2 week old kittens.

Last week we had someone just dump 15 kittens, their ages 2-3weeks. All had to be bottled fed. Yup, one of the Animal Care Attendants pulled up to work in the morning and on the door step was a carrier with the kittens in it, cold and straving.

Somedays I HATE people.