Critically Wounded Dave Limps Home to His Family with an Arrow Embedded in His Chest Only One Inch Away from His Heart
"This defies understanding of people's minds. It is absolutely horrific. Who would do this to a cat?"
-- Andrew Childerhouse
Punks from across the pond normally prefer air guns as their weapon of choice whenever they decide to abuse cats, which is not infrequently. American juvenile miscreants on the other hand seem to prefer bows and arrows. (See Cat Defender posts of July 23, 2009 and May 7, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Robin Hood Is Wounded in the Leg in Yet Still Another Bow and Arrow Attack Upon a Cat in the Tampa Area" and "British Punks Are Having a Field Day Maiming Cats with Air Guns but the Peelers Continue to Look the Other Way.")
There are not any formalized rules of engagement when it comes to attacking defenseless cats and both groups are not the least bit hesitant about using whatever weapon is handy in order to perpetrate their cowardly deeds. That is what members of the Childerhouse family of Racecourse Road in the village of Terrington St Clement in Norfolk found out to their horror on June 10th when their eleven-month-old cat, Dave, limped home with a fourteen-inch arrow protruding from his thoracic cavity. (See photo above.)
The bolt, which entered his neck and came out by his left front paw, missed striking his heart by an inch and his lungs by an even smaller margin. Veterinarian Sarah Colegrove of Mill House Veterinary Surgery in nearby King's Lynn theorizes that the blunt-tipped arrow pushed Dave's major organs out of the way, as opposed to ripping them asunder, as it passed through his chest.
The arrow did, however, carry with it a considerable amount of hair and other debris into Dave's thoracic cavity and this necessitated his spending five days in intensive care where he was treated with strong antibiotics in order to ward off infection. He is back home now with Andrew and Juliet Childerhouse and their two daughters, twelve-year-old Hannah and eight-year-old Phoebe, all of whom are taking turns caring for him. Even the family dog and a pet chicken have been pressed into service as part of the convalescent team. (See photo below of him with the females of the household.)
The staples have been removed from his chest and his appetite has returned, but the ordeal has, quite understandably, left him with some pretty severe psychological scars. "He doesn't go outside (in) the garden anymore. He's still very scared and he's frightened of people now," Juliet told Lynn News on June 26th. (See "Miracle Cat Recovering after Crossbow Attack.") "Once upon a time, he would be all over people, sitting on their laps."
Just as is the case in America, veterinary costs are out the roof in Angleterre but the Childerhouses can take heart in the fact that the RSPCA has agreed to pay part of Dave's $1,320 bill. The general public also is helping out with donations. (See Cat Defender post of September 25, 2007 entitled "Acid Attack Leaves Solskjaer with Severe Injuries and Horrific Pain as His Cash-Strapped Family Struggles to Cope.")
Dave disappeared on June 2nd and the Childerhouses had all but given him up for dead until sharp-eared Hannah heard his jingling bell heralding his return eight days later. Her joy soon turned to hysteria when she saw that her once healthy cat was now emaciated, smelly, his fur filthy and, above all, critically injured.
"Hannah was screaming constantly," Juliet related to the Daily Mail on June 23rd. (See "Miaouch! Amazing Pictures of a Cat That Spent a Week with a Crossbow Bolt Through Its Body.") "She could not go to school."
Since the skin around the projectile already had begun to heal, Colegrove estimates that it must have been inside Dave for at least a few days. Others believe that it could have been inside him for as long as a week.
Unless the culprit can be apprehended, Dave's whereabouts during the eight days that he was AWOL are destined to remain a mystery. While it is conceivable that he could have been shot on June 2nd and it took him over a week in order to muster the strength to make it back home, it also is possible that he was shanghaied, abused, and then dumped. The latter theory would account for the elapsed time but nothing can be taken for granted where cats are concerned.
It would be helpful to know if Dave has a habit of staying away from home for extended periods of time. If so, it is possible that he has a second family. (See Cat Defender post of July 9, 2007 entitled "Hungry and Disheveled Cat Named Slim Is Picked Up Off the Streets of Ottawa by Rescuer Who Refuses to Return Him to His Owners.")
For their part, neither of the elder Childerhouses are buying into the Peelers' theory that Dave was the victim of a random act of violence. "The police think it was someone riding past who shot him, but in our view it was a clean shot at close range," Juliet told the Daily Mail in the article cited supra. "Dave is a very friendly cat so someone probably got very close and let him have it," Andrew added.
Confronted with the intransigence of the police, the best that the Childerhouses can hope for is that the culprit will get careless and expose either himself or herself. "It's being talked about quite a bit and I'm hoping those responsible will get a bit cocky and slip up, perhaps admit to someone what they did," Juliet told Lynn News in the article cited supra. "It put my girls in such a panic (and) upset the whole family and we're not going to let them just get away with it."
Although because of their lack of homes and owners to protect them, feral cats are the most vulnerable members of any society. They do have one huge advantage over domestic cats such as Dave and that is their inherent wariness of humans.
It is precisely that fear which enables them to survive in the face of astronomical odds against them and is the number one reason why feral colony caretakers should not attempt to socialize them unless they are prepared to go whole hog and find permanent homes for them. Domestics and strays on the other hand are vulnerable to all sorts of mischief precisely because they have lost their fear of humans.
There is additionally a rather disquieting parallel between this case and the savage attack upon Valentine that took place back in January in the Boise suburb of Caldwell. On that tragic occasion, Valentine was left blind and deaf on her left side when an unidentified fourteen-year-old cat-hater shot her directly in the eye with a crossbow.
Although he later claimed that he was justified in doing so because she allegedly was stalking quail, Sheri L. Schneider of Simply Cats does not believe a word of his outrageous lies. "This was not an accident," she publicly stated after reviewing the evidence of the attack. "I think this cat had to have been held down. This person was a great shot to get it right through the eye. Either the cat was held down or tied down, is my personal feeling."
Compounding matters further, this was not the first time that Valentine had been abused and that fact was attested to by the air gun pellet that the attending veterinarian found lodged in her stomach after examining her. (See Cat Defender post of June 1, 2009 entitled "Blind and Deaf on Her Left Side as the Result of a Bow and Arrow Attack by a Juvenile Miscreant, Valentine Is Still Looking for a Permanent Home.")
The sometimes fatal mistake of underestimating the depth of ailurophobia that exists throughout this wicked old world is not something that is peculiar to cats like Dave and Valentine. Au contraire, it also extends to dedicated cat-lovers such as Andrew.
"This defies understanding of people's minds," he exasperated to the Daily Mail. "It is absolutely horrific. Who would do this to a cat?"
The concise answer to that question is all sorts of people. Cat-haters, abusers, and killers abound in every society but, like child molesters, most of them do not go around advertising their presence.
If cat-lovers in America have one advantage over their cousins in England it is that they are constantly reminded that they are in the midst of an all-out war to save the species from its mortal enemies. For in addition to unaffiliated cat-haters and abusers who commit randomized acts of violence, several governmental and numerous nongovernmental bodies are dedicated to eradicating the species from the face of the earth.
Most prominent among them are the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Pentagon, the National Audubon Society, and the American Bird Conservancy. Much the same can be said for all wildlife biologists as well as for the United States Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services and its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Fortunately, the Childerhouses and other English families do not have to worry too much about their government killing and defaming cats, but the number of incidences where cats have been attacked with air guns, firecrackers, and poisoned with antifreeze and other deadly chemicals is proof that ailurophobia is as English as tea and crumpets. Hopefully, the bow and arrow attack on Dave is not a precursor of additional attacks by archers on English cats.
It is imperative nevertheless that individuals who care about cats to be on their guards at all times. The enemies of the species, of which there are many, are such unprincipled and ruthless scoundrels that they will stop at absolutely nothing in order to achieve their objectives.
Going forward, the Childerhouses, especially little Hannah and Phoebe, can draw inspiration from what their illustrious countrywoman Dame Agatha had to say on the subject of evil. "Remember that now you can have confidence in yourself always," Hercule Poirot said to Norma Restarick in The Third Girl. "To have known, at close quarters, what absolute evil means is to be armored against what life can do to you."
Photos: Mason's News Service for the Daily Mail.