Gunned Down by an Assassin and Then Mowed Down by a Hit-and-Run Driver, Big Bob Loses a Leg but Survives and Now Is Looking for a Home
"We believe once they get here the animals have value and we're going to do everything that we can to take care of the ones we have."
-- Kristi Herr of the Humane Society of Indianapolis
No one ever said that being a homeless cat was an easy row to hoe but the deprivations associated with such and rough and tumble lifestyle are compounded by society's steadfast refusal to punish motorists and other ailurophobes who take full advantage of these defenseless animals' vulnerability. A good case in point is the wholesale criminal abuse recently heaped upon the tiny head of a handsome four-year-old Russian Blue cat named Big Bob in Indianapolis. (See photo above.)
It is not known where Bob came from but considering his pedigree and friendly demeanor he most likely was abandoned and eventually wound up living in a colony on the north side of town that is cared for by IndyFeral. Somewhere along the way he was divested of his tail and contracted the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).
Those misfortunes were, however, merely the apéritif before a full course of life-threatening miseries eventually were served up to him. The sequence of events is not exactly clear, but fairly recently he suffered a gunshot wound to his thigh and was deliberately run down and left for dead by a hit-and-run motorist.
IndyFeral noticed that he was limping and brought him to the Humane Society of Indianapolis (HSI) on either December 11th or December 12th where one of his rear legs was removed. It is not known if HSI was able to remove the shrapnel from his thigh but the fact that most of his fur was shaved away is a pretty good indication that such a procedure was at least attempted. (See photo below.)
Considering Bob's numerous maladies it would have been easy for HSI to have turned its back on him but resident veterinarian Kristi Herr stated from the outset that cruelly snuffing out his fragile life was not an option. "We believe once they get here the animals have value and we're going to do everything that we can to take care of the ones we have," she pledged to WRTV of Indianapolis on December 14th in a video. (See "Cat Hit by Car, Shot Gets Second Chance.")
Like Geoffrey Weech of the Monmouth Small Animal Hospital in Monmouth, Illinois, Herr belongs to that select group of practitioners who place saving lives ahead of profits. (See Cat Defender post of November 17, 2010 entitled "Penniless and Suffering from Two Broken Legs, It Looked Like Curtains for Trace Until Geoffrey Weech Rode to Her Rescue on His White Horse.")
Cats with three legs can get along just fine and FIV can be managed so as to prevent it from detracting too much from either their quality of life or longevity. The larger task awaiting HSI is finding Big Bob a permanent home.
Although HSI originally had hoped to place him in a new home by Christmas, no additional information about him has been posted on its web site. Hopefully his being FIV-positive is not scaring off potential adopters as it did with a cat named Valentine from Treasure Valley. (See Cat Defender posts of March 5, 2010 and June 1, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Struck Down by an Archer and Shunned by an Uncaring Public for More Than a Year, Valentine Finally Finds a Home" and "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.")
"He's been a very good boy. He's always been in good spirits. He's been friendly. He's been easy to work with," Herr told WTHR-TV of Indianapolis on December 14th. (See "Cat, Hit by Car, Survives Shooting.") "Once he's all healed up, he's going to be just like a normal kitty. He's just going to look a little different as he moves." (See bottom photo of him recuperating in an Elizabethan collar.)
HSI's shelter director Christine Jeschke also has been impressed by Bob's total lack of malice. "He's purring, he's content," she stated in the video cited supra. "He is seeking attention and he deserves to be cranky and mean after all of that. He's so grateful to be here and alive."
Jeschke's testimony bears out an observation made long ago by Mark Twain in his illuminating essay, The Lowest Animal:
"In the course of my experiments I convinced myself that among the animals man is the only one that harbors insults and injuries, broods over them, waits till a chance offers, then takes revenge. The passion for revenge is unknown to the higher animals."
Although the lack of malice exhibited by cats like Bob is highly commendable, it would not make much difference if they were vengeful because they are pretty much powerless against the machinations of man. They accordingly must be protected and their abusers and killers dealt with one way or another.
Inexcusably, neither the police nor HSI are even looking for either the gunman or motorist who nearly killed Bob. "Around the holidays, it's especially abhorrent that someone would shoot a cat and leave it to die," is all that HSI's John Aleshire had to say on that subject when he was interviewed by WRTV on December 14th. (See "Animal Expected to Recover.")
First of all, it is no less repugnant to either gun down or run down a cat in either May or August than it is to do so in December. The pain, injuries, and deaths of cats during the other eleven months of the year are no less egregious than those suffered at Christmastime.
Secondly, since neither the police nor humane groups have any interest at all in protecting homeless cats it is imperative that practitioners of TNR, such as IndyFeral, assume that task. Considering the phenomenal job that volunteers all across the world are doing feeding, sheltering, sterilizing, and medicating homeless cats it is difficult, albeit necessary, to ask more of them because without proper security all of their good work could very easily be for naught.
For example, surveillance cameras could be installed at the colonies and the volunteers could take turns guarding the cats. Since only time and dedication are needed for the latter, no additional funding would be required.
Such an intimate involvement also would greatly enhance the cats' sociability and thus make them more readily adoptable. Dropping off food and water twice a day does little or nothing to socialize them, but by spending several hours a day with them their caretakers become an intricate part of their environment.
There are, admittedly, more sophisticated and quicker ways of socializing cats but spending considerable time in a colony can work wonders. It also is a method that precludes the need to use tricks and gimmicks.
After all, "a cat's a cat and that's that" as an old American proverb stipulates. Labeling some cats as ferals and others as strays is a dishonest way of justifying their removal and executions. No one would dare to label orphans and impoverished children as strays and ferals just so that they could be slaughtered en masse and the odious practice of branding cats as such should be immediately stopped.
Even Alley Cat Allies (ACA) is guilty of spreading that blatant falsehood. "But feral cats are not wildlife. They are the same species as pet cats, but are not socialized to people and are therefore unadoptable," the organization's Becky Robinson declared in a press release on August 21, 2010. (See "BYU Taking the Wrong Route for Feral Cats" at www.care2.com.)
Even if that is the declared public policy of ACA it nonetheless is odd that it operates an adoption service for them in conjunction with PetSmart in Mays Landing, New Jersey, and, presumably, elsewhere as well.
TNR is a good start but it never should be viewed as an end in itself. Providing homeless cats with security, socialization, and new homes are the logical extensions of such a policy.
In Big Bob's case, for example, if IndyFeral had secured a home for him in a timely fashion there is a good chance that he could have been spared the quintuplicate tragedy of losing his tail, becoming infected with FIV, being shot, run down, and losing a limb. Moreover, because of his pedigree that should have been as easy as pie.
Back in 2005 and 2006, for instance, another Russian Blue named Oliver Gatsby found himself in just the opposite predicament when a legal tug-of-war broke out between his old owner and his new guardian. (See Cat Defender post of January 3, 2006 entitled "Manhattan Court to Rely Upon 1894 Dog Law to Decide Custody over a Russian Blue Cat Named Oliver Gatsby.")
Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done about motorists who get their kicks from running down defenseless cats and other animals. In fact, they do the same thing to pedestrians and bicyclists with society's blessings.
Nevertheless, cat crossing signs and roadside memorials are worth a try. (See Cat Defender posts of January 26, 2007 and October 9, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Cat Activists Succeed in Getting Connecticut Town to Erect a Cat Crossing Sign" and "Feline Traffic Fatalities Are Unworthy of Commemoration According to a Möhnsee Bureaucrat Who Orders the Destruction of a Roadside Memorial to Jule.")
Finally, anyone willing to provide long-suffering Bob with a permanent home can contact HSI at (317) 872-5650.
Photos: WISH-TV of Indianapolis (Big Bob alone and in an Elizabethan collar) and Reed Parker of WIBC Radio of Indianapolis (Bob after surgery).