TALENT — A 4-month-old stray kitten more than earned the moniker “Hemi” after he tangled with a vehicle engine last week, although the ordeal will cost him a leg. A social media request from Jackson County Animal Services has already brought in enough donations to cover his medical bills, but officals say the shelter’s medical fund can always use help.
The kitten was injured when the vehicle’s owner started the engine, not realizing the animal was hiding under the hood.
Emergency veterinary personnel stabilized the cat and contacted Animal Services officials. In addition to injuries to his head and ear, Hemi’s right rear leg was damaged so severely that it will have to be amputated.
With a limited budget for sick or injured dogs and cats who make their way through the county animal shelter, shelter manager Barbara Talbert urged volunteers to try to raise half of Hemi’s surgery fee so that only half would come from the shelter’s medical fund.
Within an hour after Animal Services officer Mike Slusarczyk posted the appeal on social medai, nearly $700 was raised to cover Hemi’s care and help the next emergency case.
“I’m always really grateful to see the support,” Slusarczyk said. “To coin a phrase, ‘It takes a village’ — that couldn’t be more true with the animals we have in our care. Too often, people assume the worst with county shelters, but we have a good rapport with the community and they always come through for us when we ask for help.”
“I don’t think people understand exactly how many animals come into our care, but they take a lot of support and that can mean financial backing but also donations of blankets and food and other things,” he said.
Shelter manager Barbara Talbert said that while the shelter encounters only one to two amputations each year or so, unexpected medical bills are especially taxing on a limited shelter budget.
Just a third of the shelter operation budget is funded by Jackson County while the rest is made up through license and adoption fees.
“If you consider that our adoption fees don’t cover all the costs that we put into a dog or cat, it’s hard to justify putting another $200 or $300 on one animal when we have so many lives we are trying to save,” Talbert said. “Especially on a limited budget and when we’re adopting them — the cats — out for $45.”
“We have a budget of $60,000 we spend on all medical care,” she added. “When an unusual cost comes up beyond what we usually can spend on average per animal, like an amputation or some type of special surgery or heartworm treatment, we will reach out and ask for donations. We try to treat every animal that comes in as an individual. If we feel like they are really are an adoptable animal, we will do whatever we can for them.”
Talbert said adoption success rates for past amputees have been excellent. Given Hemi’s young age, he likely won’t miss his right rear limb for long.
Other than having an upper respiratory infection, common in stray kittens who find their way to the shelter, Slusarczyk said Hemi seemed undeterred by the seriousness of his injury even while anchored by a purple cast nearly as big as he is.
Surgery — amputation and neutering — is slated for June 13 after Hemi recovers from his cold virus. Following surgery, a foster family is lined up to care for him before he’s cleared for adoption.
“He’s struggling a little bit now with an upper respiratory infection so we’re trying to get him better from that but, even feeling a little under the weather, when I go back there to see him, he’s at front of cage trying to grab at me with his little paws,” Slusarczyk said.
“He’s a really sweet little guy. As small as he is, the giant cast on his leg isn’t slowing him down at all and it’s probably the same size as his body. He’s going to be a great cat when he can finally be adopted.”
To donate to the shelter medical fund to help other cats and dogs, visit online, https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/FOTAS.
Donations can also be mailed. Write “For Hemi’s Fund” in the memo line of the check and send it to: Friends of the Animal Shelter, PO Box 1013, Phoenix, OR 97535.
Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at email@example.com.