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Poisoned cat raises awareness that owners must care for pets

Published November 12. 2009 05:00PM

A cat found in the Lehighton area has been treated for poisoning.

The Carbon County Friends of Animals and the Lehighton Police are trying to raise awareness of the incident and want to remind pet owners to watch and care for their animals when they are outside.

Kimmy Mulik of the Carbon County Friends of Animals, Jim Thorpe, said on Oct. 23, the shelter was contacted by Lehighton patrolman Matthew Arner for a cat that appeared to be diseased or injured.

The investigation began as Arner responded to a call from a homeowner, stating that there was a rabid cat in the yard.

When he arrived on scene, he observed the cat, which appeared to be foaming at the mouth. It was lying in one particular spot and appeared to be alert.

As Officer Arner approached the cat to further investigate, the feline crouched down in a slight aggressive position, but did not pounce.

The cat was captured by a trained animal officer and taken to Carbon County Friends of Animals for observation.

Volunteers suspected that the cat had previously had a seizure, but after taking it to Creature Comfort Animal Hospital for further testing, it was determined that the cat was suffering from toxic poisoning. It also had a burn on its tongue area and had a seizure while at the hospital.

"I know we've had cases in the past where people have set out traps because they are trying to keep skunks, raccoons, opossums, or other creatures out of their yard," Arner said. "But it's all too common that cats are caught or injured."

The feline remained at Creature Comfort for several days following the check up, Mulik reported, adding that the bill for the visit totaled $650.

"CCFOA does not have the funds to pay for this bill," Mulik said, adding that the organization is looking for the community's help. "This situation is an education for pet owners. Never allow your pets to roam outdoors. Unfortunately, there are people who do not share the same love for animals as we do and this is the end result."

The cat is currently being fostered and is required to have three different medications for the next few weeks, pending a checkup. The incident is under investigation.

Mulik said the shelter is trying to make the public aware of the situation to educate pet owners on the need to care for their pets.

She added that owning an animal is a big responsibility and individuals should really consider their options before deciding to adopt an animal.

"You must be able to provide food, shelter, medical care and love and attention to the animal," Mulik said. "If you cannot provide all of these to the animal, then that is an indication that having a pet is not the right thing to do. Never abandon your animals on the street."

Donna Crum, county animal cruelty officer, added that pet owners should put a collar on your pet, whether it is a dog or a cat, because then if the animals run away, they have identification.

Crum recommends bright colored or reflector collars that are snug fitting because cats crawl into small spaces where a collar could get snagged. She also said to write your phone number on the collar or get an identification tag.

But, the most important thing to remember is to spay and neuter the animals, Mulik, Crum and Arner said.

"There is an over abundance of unwanted animals and the shelters are so overcrowded and it is not fair to the animals to live their lives in shelters," Mulik said. "They should be living with people who include them as their family members."

Arner added that if pet owners begin to spay or neuter their pets, it will help keep animal overpopulations down, meaning that shelters will not be filled to capacity with animals that have no homes.

In Lehighton, he said, there is a growing number of feral cats living in the outer area of the borough.

Crum also reminds pet owners that with the upcoming winter, keep your pets warm, watered, and safe.

"I'm hoping to bring awareness on how responsible people have to be with their animals," Crum said. "People need to take into consideration with the winter weather coming up that outside dogs need to have proper cages and straw beds, as well as food and water."

Proper cages, she defines as a four-sided structure, which includes a roof that the dog will not be getting snowed on and can be sheltered from high winds.

According to law, Crum added, pets must have access to food and fresh water at all times.

She also states that if you are going away, have a plan of action for your pets. Have a family member or neighbor check on the animals daily to make sure they are fed, watered, and cared for.

CCFOA is a non-profit shelter, which remains in operation through fundraiser events and minimal community support.

To give a monetary donation, mail it to Carbon County Friends of Animals, 900 Walnut Ave., Jim Thorpe, PA 18229. Make checks payable to Carbon County Friends of Animals.

If you cannot make monetary donations, supplies are also needed, such as: Purina cat or kitten chow, non-scoopable litter, bleach, dish and laundry detergent, chicken baby food, latex gloves, and most importantly volunteers.

Donations to help the animal cruelty officer with animal rescues, as well as the Carbon County Animal Response Team, which Crum leads, are also being accepted.

Crum said the group is always in need of pet food, blankets, towels, kitty litter, paper towels, cleaning supplies, etc.

She added that an animal supply drive is also in the works. This drive would raise supplies for area shelters in need, such as CCFOA; as well as the CART team.

For more information, contact CCFOA at (570) 325-9400.

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