A Life Worth Saving

It was a mid-Spring in 2018. The day started off chilly with a promise of warming up. Staff at the Montgomery County Animal Welfare League went about the morning routines of taking dogs out, cleaning cages and sifting through litter boxes. A few workers congregated in the front office to start answering phones and troubleshooting for the day ahead, when in walked Nickee, the medical coordinator carrying a small bundle. A young boy of about 10 followed along behind.

“Please, can you save it?’ he cried.

Nickee, looking Misha square in the eye, gave her head a brief shake. Misha, AWL’s Shelter Director, walked over to the bundle and started to unwrap a bloody rag covering a tiny body. Misha, who had seen more than her share of animal carnage gasped.

“ Oh my God!”

In her arms, Nickee held the most pitiful kitten she had even seen. The skin on its face had been completely peeled away; its nose was gone and while the rest of its tiny body was covered in soft beige fur, the head was a bloody, hairless pulp.

“Can you save it?” the boy interjected again. The distraught boy found the mangled kitten on the side of the road. It was later thought the kitten, seeking warmth, had crawled into a car’s undercarriage and most likely fell out once the car got on the road.

Misha turned to him and as she put one hand on the boy’s shoulder to give him the dreaded answer, she placed her other hand on the kitten still in Nickee’s arms. The kitten began to purr. In that moment, Misha made a decision. The kitten wasn’t giving up and neither was she.

Misha alerted the emergency personnel at the VCA Animal Hospital in Indianapolis where facial surgery was performed and Liam, randomly named, survived. As he recovered, Liam became the VCA mascot, purring and spreading love and hope throughout the building. The $3000.00 surgery was covered by the generous donation of one of the veterinarians who ended up adopting the special kitten. Almost five years later people still talk about Liam’s injuries and how he was saved from certain death.

In 2012, Henry Timms of the 92nd Street Y along with the United Nations Foundation created the concept of Giving Tuesday. Occurring the Tuesday directly following Thanksgiving, it is designated as a day of global generosity. Granted, there are many charities and organizations worthy of gifts, but consider this; over 38% of American households own dogs and over 25% own cats. Combined, there are close to 80 million companion animals in the USA alone. In addition there are approximately 6.3 million stray and unwanted pets that enter shelters every year. Funding for these shelters is dependent upon allocations from various sources, but the need to operate a no-kill shelter, one where every life is a life worth saving, requires extra resources. Food, shelter, medications, bedding and equipment are standard costs in running a shelter. When an animal comes to the shelter in need of extra medical attention like Liam, the expense depletes money allocated for general operations. Shelters like AWL rely on gifts and donations from the public to help with these much needed funds. Won’t you please consider donating to your local animal shelter on Giving Tuesday? The life you help safe may become your next best friend and spread hope and joy. Just like Liam.