The cat was alive.
At quarter to 4 pm today, Valentine’s Day 2010, I was walking down the road on my way to take care of a couple of errands. As I went by the curve where the street branches apart with a large triangular planter, I saw a black cat lying in the gutter… I almost kept walking, except that it wasn’t mangled like “roadkill,” and I noticed there were only one or two flies on the body… so I stood and watched for a minute or two, and could see its chest rising and falling — slowly, but it was breathing! Blood had pooled under its open mouth, and I knew it must be in terrible pain.
The cat was alive.
Managed to get over the shock that had kept me frozen for a few moments, and tried to think who I might call. 9-1-1? No. It could be quite some time before I got transferred to somebody who could help with animal emergencies. Then I realized I was only a block away from the police station! Sprinting down the street, lucky enough to get to the intersection as the light was ready for me to cross, no fussing with the pedestrian signal, and down to the doors of the station — which was closed. Duh… it’s the weekend. The sign on the door also listed a few weekdays when the police station is closed; the city is bankrupt, after all, and it costs money to keep the doors open.
But the cat was alive.
It was now 3:55 pm. I thought of what else I could do, who I might contact — called my friend RPJ His family has cared for several pets through their lives, and I figured he’d have good input. He conferred with another friend who was there with him, and looked up the phone number for the local Animal Control Center. I hung up the call with RPJ — two minutes total — and dialed their number.
The cat might still be alive.
A woman answered the phone — 3:57 pm — and I tried to speak clearly and coherently as I explained that I had come across an injured cat and wished to get help for it. She confirmed my statement that it appeared to have been hit, and that it was still alive — then she asked me where it was in the street. I answered honestly, that it had been toward the side of the road, near the gutter; what a good thing, too, since it had finally fallen over there and not where it would have been struck again and again as cars went by! Because of where it was, it might just have a chance!
The cat could still be breathing…
The woman on the phone informed me that since it was the weekend, I had reached the after-hours dispatch line, and that unless the animal was blocking traffic, they couldn’t send anyone out to take care of it. She offered that if I “wanted to accept the responsibility for it,” that I could pick up the cat and drive it in to them. Even if I weren’t on foot, there’s not a chance in this world that I would try to pick that cat up, not knowing how it had been hurt, or what I might break in the attempt… I didn’t know what to do.
The cat was suffering, and might already be gone.
Reluctant to give up, but feeling powerless and not knowing any specific resources, I tried to keep walking, to head forward and start my errands, hoping that somehow I would find an answer. Two blocks down the road, I was about to cross the street when I saw a man and a woman returning to their house with two large dogs. Pet owners — perhaps they knew where to turn, and could certainly appreciate how serious the danger was! I explained the situation again, and the woman suggested calling “Friends Of Animals.” She didn’t know the number, but she went inside to get a phone book. I found the number and called, at 4:06 pm.
The cat didn’t have long to live, if it didn’t get help soon.
One ring, and the recording of an answering service cheerfully informed me that Friends Of Animals was not a shelter and their volunteers currently had no more room, but that they could provide free and low-cost options for spaying and neutering, and that if I could get my pet to the point where it was ready to be adopted, that they could help me with the adoption process. If I would please leave my name and telephone number, speaking slowly and clearly, they would return my call as soon as possible.
I was wrong. The cat had been dead from the moment I saw it. I was only foolish enough to believe that it might have still lived.
What a wonderful Valentine’s Day treat, wouldn’t you say? Plenty of love in the air, hearts kindled with caring and compassion! Or at least plenty of hands tied, dollars lacking, and a dead cat that’s probably still in the gutter right now. I’m so grateful to know that it doesn’t matter if I care, because nobody else does!