Nelson is one tough cat. He is recovering at the East Kootenay SPCA after having survived a hideous act of animal cruelty.
Today, Wednesday, April 23, is Animal Abuse Prevention Day, and Nelson’s presence is a stark reminder that acts of animal abuse are widespread and commonplace everywhere, including here in the East Kootenay.
“We’ve seen some crazy things,” said Brenna Baker, Manager of the East Kootenay SPCA. “We want people to be aware that things like this are happening here.”
Baker said the BCSPCA started Animal Abuse Prevention Day in 2012 to get people talking about the subject, in the aftermath of the Whistler sled dog incident, in which an employee of a sled dog company was ordered to shoot more than 50 healthy dogs after a downturn in the business.
As for Nelson, what some human subjected him to almost defies belief.
“Someone stopped by on Thursday,” Baker said. “They said they had seen a cat by the side of the road. One of the staff went out there three times, and finally caught him, in a net. We rushed him to the vet.”
Nelson (named after Willie Nelson’s ‘The Highwayman’), had been shot in the head seven times with a pellet gun and had had his neck sliced at.
“The vet thinks someone had tried to cut his head off,” Baker said.
The good news is that Nelson will survive and recover, although he will forever be traumatized by the horrific event. He is already becoming more active, eating at his bowl of food and hissing at strangers who approach with cameras.
The bad news is that cases like this are not uncommon.
“There are many cases around here,” Baker said, adding that the local SPCA has one Animal Cruelty Officer who serves both the East and West Kootenays — a large territory for one. He is sometimes assisted by an officer out of the Okanagan, but they too are very busy up there, Baker said.
If you have any information on this case please call the East Kootenay SPCA at 250-421-7861.
Province-wide, the SPCA investigated more than 8,000 cases of animal abuse in 2013.
Nelson’s vet bills will be high — over $1,000 — and will include dental work. Anyone wishing to donate to help the SPCA cover the bill can call 250-426-6751. The SPCA is located just east of Cranbrook on Highway 3/95.
The SPCA will also be fundraising to get new stainless steel cages for its cats. A respiratory illness recently swept through the cat population, due to the existing old wooden cages, Baker said. Thus, no cats were available for adoption for two weeks.
The SPCA has a list of tips to help prevent animal abuse:
• Don’t be a bystander — Report animal cruelty to the BC SPCA’s toll-free hotline at 1-855-622-7722;
• Take responsibility for the animals in your life;
• Speak up for animals — send a message to your local elected officials to let them know how important it is to have strong animal protection legislation, as well as resources for animal cruelty law enforcement and prevention work;
• Teach kids that kindness counts;
• Learn about the violence link — Animals are often not the only victims of abuse. There is a strong connection between animal cruelty and other forms of violence such as bullying and domestic abuse.
For more information on the SPCA, including an online petition against animal cruelty, go to spca.bc.ca.