Gia and Mr. T. Survive Separate Attempts Made on Their Lives after They Are Abandoned on Busy Bridges During Inclement Weather
"She (Gia) wouldn't have made it through the day."
-- William McCann of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
"Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, Gia! So long and good riddance!" With those or similar parting words, an unidentified motorist abandoned a beautiful kitten named Gia on the upper level of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge last December 29th.
The temperature on the bridge, which connects Brooklyn with Staten Island, was a bone-chilling twenty-seven degrees Fahrenheit and the wind was howling at fifty miles per hour. Needless to say, things looked especially grim for little Gia.
Fortunately for her, maintenance worker Ryan Laks spotted her and was able to bring her down from the bridge and to safety. She later was taken to Rosebank Animal Hospital on Staten Island where it was determined that she miraculously had come through her frightening ordeal unscathed.
As it turned out, that was only the first installment in her amazing change of fortune. On December 31st, she was adopted by an unidentified man who recently had lost his beloved ten-year-old cat. (See photo above of Gia.)
Gia's survival is all the more remarkable in that during her time on the bridge she was never more than inches away from death at any moment in the form of being either crushed underneath the wheels of some unconscionable motorist or by drowning in the ice-cold waters below. Even if she had somehow managed to stay out of harm's way, she sooner or later would have succumbed to hypothermia.
"She wouldn't have made it through the day," Laks's supervisor, William McCann, told the Staten Island Advance on January 1, 2010. (See "Kitten Gets a Second Chance at Life after Being Rescued from Verrazano Bridge.")
When it comes to disposing of unwanted cats and kittens on bridges it seems that the busier and more popular spans get a lion's share of this shameful business. For example, during 2008 four kittens were rescued from the Verrazano after they were tossed out of speeding automobiles.
On a bridge as busy as the Verrazano, the number of unreported feline fatalities each year surely must be in the dozens if not indeed hundreds. Equally disturbing, it is extremely doubtful that a single arrest ever has been made in any of these cases.
Like the Verrazano, the Auckland Harbor Bridge, which connects Auckland with North Shore City, is equally popular with New Zealanders who want to get rid of unwanted cats. In 2007, a white kitten with beautiful yellow-green eyes named Mr. Tango was rescued dripping wet from the bridge during a storm.
He shortly thereafter was adopted by Sheryl Walker of Helensville, forty kilometers northwest of Auckland. (See photo above of her and Mr. T.)
As was the case with the man who adopted Gia, Walker's cat recently had died also. "I had lost my beautiful cat about a week before and was very distraught -- wasn't going to have another one -- and the girls just said 'this one's for you and he's just gorgeous'," she related to the New Zealand Herald of Auckland on June 8, 2010. (See "Tiny Bridge Survivor Now Top Cat in His New Home.") "We just fell in love with him. He's a real personality. He's become a country cat."
Having grown into a stout thirteen-pound adult cat, Mr. T. now pretty much rules the roost at Walker's house. "He indicates what he wants so if he wants you to feed him, the paw comes out and hits you. And if dinner isn't on time -- at six at night -- you get a whack and if you ignore him, he goes around, he'll start ripping the furniture," she told the Herald. "If you still ignore him, he goes under the TV set. If that doesn't work he'll climb on top and dangle a leg so you can't watch the TV."
In addition to Mr. T. and probably innumerable other cats as well, two dogs and a blue penguin recently have been rescued from the Auckland Harbor Bridge.
When confronted with a life and death abandonment on a bridge, every once in a while an enterprising kitten is able to take matters into its own hands. That is exactly what a six-week-old black kitten named Miracle did on June 22nd of last year when she was dumped on the McClugage Bridge in Peoria, Illinois.
When kindhearted Carol Jones stopped in order to mount a rescue, Miracle secreted herself away underneath Jones's car. Believing that her rescue had ended in failure, a downcast Jones returned home to West Peoria. (See photo on the right of her and Miracle.)
Her sadness was premature as it turned out in that Miracle was discovered a couple of days later in her garage. Unwilling to take a chance on losing her again, Jones decided to immediately adopt her. (See Cat Defender post of July 6, 2009 entitled "Miracle Survives a Drowning Attempt on the McClugage Bridge and Later Hitchhikes a Ride to Safety Underneath the Car of a Compassionate Motorist.")
If bridge rescues are rare, water rescues are even rarer. A kitten named Splat defied all the odds, however, on July 18th when she was fished out of Clouter Creek in Charleston by a boater after she had been tossed off the Mark Clark Expressway Bridge. (See Cat Defender post of August 9, 2010 entitled "Sunday Afternoon Boater Plucks Splat Out of Clouter Creek after She Is Thrown Off of the Mark Clark Expressway Bridge in Charleston.")
Some cat-haters refuse to leave anything to chance, however. Instead of merely tossing cats off of bridges, they weigh them down with rocks in cages so as to make doubly sure that they drown.
Such was the cruel fate visited upon a calico cat named Lucky who survived being thrown into the Clark Fork River in Missoula, Montana, on December 27, 2005. She owes her salvation to the fact that her cage landed on the ice as opposed to in the water.
A passerby spotted her cage and promptly notified the Missoula Fire Department which mounted a successful rescue. One of her saviors, fireman John Macrow, later adopted her. (See Cat Defender post of January 13, 2006 entitled "Montana Firefighters Rescue Lucky Calico Cat Who Was Caged and Purposefully Thrown into an Icy River.")
Being run down by motorists and drowning in rivers are equally horrible ways for cats and kittens to die. Enhanced security, such as the liberal use of both surveillance cameras and patrol cars, would drastically reduce the number of cats killed on bridges.
Neither measure has a snowball's chance in Hell of ever being implemented, however. That is simply because not enough people around the world want to see an end to this type of horrific animal abuse.
Photos: Staten Island Advance (Gia), Steven McNicholl of the New Zealand Herald (Mr. T. and Walker), and Leslie Renken of the Journal Star of Peoria (Miracle and Jones).