Buried Alive in a Culvert for Weeks Without Food and with Very Little Water, Libby Is Rescued Battered and Bruised but, Thankfully, Alive
"We received an urgent call from a District of Squamish employee who happened to be in the area and noticed that the culvert had been deliberately blocked off with wood, brick, and rocks. Inside was the terrified cat."
-- Marika Donnelly of the Squamish Valley Branch of the BC SPCA
As Edgar Allan Poe poignantly demonstrated in his celebrated 1846 short story, "The Cask of Amontillado," the prospect of being either walled up or buried alive is nothing short of terrifying. In Victorian England, for example, that fear apparently was so prevalent that some individuals insisted upon being laid out in coffins equipped with bells on top that could be rung by a cord from inside should they revive before being interred. At least that is what Michael Crichton reported in his 1975 historical novel, The Great Train Robbery.
Unfortunately for some cats, such a cruel fate is often more than just a scary story. For example, sometime in, most likely, February a three-year-old tortoiseshell named Libby was sealed up in a five-foot-long culvert that was only eight inches wide in the Brackendale section of Squamish in British Columbia.
It was not until 9 a.m. on March 6th that she was discovered by an unidentified public employee who notified the Squamish Valley Branch of the British Columbia SPCA. "We received an urgent call from a District of Squamish employee who happened to be in the area and noticed that the culvert had been deliberately blocked off with wood, brick, and rocks," Marika Donnelly of the SPCA related in a March 9th press release. (See "BC SPCA Seeks Public's Help after Cat Is Left to Die in Culvert.") "Inside was the terrified cat."
The SPCA rushed to the culvert, located adjacent to the Squamish city dump, but it still took the agency three hours in order to corral Libby in a live trap. Near death due to a prolonged lack of food and water, she was given fluids in order to help alleviate her dehydration and placed on a heating pad in order to elevate her body temperature.
She also either had been beaten before she was entombed or injured herself while trying to escape. "We suspect that she may have been abandoned in the densely wooded area for some time before she was discovered because she has severe hair loss on sixty per cent of her body and is covered in scabs and open wounds," Donnelly told the Squamish Chief on March 9th. (See "'Emaciated' Cat Found Barricaded Inside Culvert.")
At last report, she was putting on weight and it now looks as if she is going to live. "She was extremely frightened and stressed, but once we took her into care, her demeanor totally changed," Donnelly added to the Squamish Chief. "She is friendly and loving and seemed so grateful to see friendly faces."
Nevertheless, it was an awfully close call for Libby in that her weight had plummeted to only six pounds by the time that she was discovered. On a scale used by some veterinarians in order to evaluate the health of a cat, she scored only a 1.5. (A score of one indicates emaciation while a rating of nine is reserved for those that are considered to be obese.)
Once she regains her health, her wounds heal, and her fur grows back the SPCA has pledged to try and find her a new home. After all that she has been through it would be nothing short of criminal should the organization ultimately decide to kill her.
"We are so glad that she is now in care and getting the treatment she needs and deserves," is as forthcoming as Donnelly was willing to be in the press release cited supra. "She has a wonderful, feisty attitude and a ravenous appetite so we are hopeful that she will make a full recovery and that someone will come forward to offer her a home."
Typically, no arrest has been made and none is expected. That is in spite of the fact that she obviously had a previous owner who not only socialized her but tried to kill her as well.
If the SPCA is to be faulted in any way it is for its lack of candor. "I am just baffled as to why anyone would deliberately leave a beautiful cat to die like that," Donnelly wondered aloud to the Squamish Chief in the article cited supra.
First of all, dumping unwanted cats at landfills appears from anecdotal evidence to be widespread in British Columbia and Donnelly surely is cognizant of that. (See Cat Defender post of February 16, 2012 entitled "Hawk Suffers Puncture Wounds to His Stomach and One Paw When He Is Abducted by a Raptor Hired to Patrol a City Dump on Vancouver Island.")
Secondly, burying cats and, especially, kittens alive is a rather commonplace all across the globe. For instance, on August 26, 2010 an unidentified couple out gathering mushrooms in Hindås, thirty-four kilometers east of Göteborg, discovered a trio of four-week-old kittens buried alive. Rescued in the nick of time, they were handed over to Kattstugan (Cat Cottage) in nearby Horred. (See Cat Defender post of September 11, 2010 entitled "Swedish Couple Out Gathering Mushrooms Unearths a Trio of Four-Week-Old Kittens Buried Alive in the Woods.")
Along about that same time a seven-month-old black and white kitten was stuffed in a basket, deposited in a hole alive, and then covered up with dirt and bricks in the Glen Top section of Stacksteads in the borough of Rossendale in Lancashire. Rescued by a trio of teenage girls, the kitten was given to the RSPCA in Oldham, Greater Manchester. (See Lancashire Telegraph, August 27, 2010, "Buried Alive Kitten Saved by Rossendale Teenagers.")
A five-year-old tom named Spud from Caerphilly, twelve kilometers outside of Cardiff, was not nearly so fortunate after he was bludgeoned over the head with a shovel and then buried alive in a garden at Maxton Court on the Lansbury Park Housing Estate on May 6, 2010. Because of the amount of grit and mud that had settled in his lungs, it is estimated that he was in the ground for hours before he was dug out.
Only by then it was too late to save him. (See South Wales Echo of Cardiff, May 27, 2010, "Cat Died after It Was Buried Alive" and Caerphilly News, May 27, 2010, "RSPCA Investigate (sic) Cat Buried Alive in Caerphilly Garden.")
The vast majority of unwanted cats and kittens are not buried alive in the conventional sense but rather are sealed up in bags and then deposited in trash cans. Such patently criminal behavior is, after all, pretty much the perfect crime. (See Cat Defender posts of October 3, 2009 and February 24, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Deliberately Entombed Inside a Canvas Bag for Six Days, Duff Is Saved by a Pair of Alert Maintenance Workers at an Apartment Complex in Spokane" and "Sealed Up in a Backpack Inside a Plastic Bag and Then Tossed in the Trash, Titch Is Rescued by a Passerby in Essex.")
Others either are sealed up in bags and boxes and left at the side of the road in order to be collected by garbagemen or deposited directly in Dumpsters. (See Cat Defender posts of February 25, 2010, July 3, 2009, and October 14, 2011 entitled, respectively, "Bess Twice Survives Attempts Made on Her Life Before Landing on All Four Paws at a Pub in Lincolnshire," "Pretty Little Sleepy Survives a Suffocation and Starvation Attempt on Her Life Thanks to the Timely Intervention of a Mattress Store Employee" and "Chucked Out in the Trash, Tabitha Winds Up in an Oxygen Chamber with Four Broken Ribs, an Injured Lung, and Pneumonia.")
Still other cats make it all the way to recycling centers before a few of them are saved at the last minute from being cut to bits. (See Cat Defender posts of August 23, 2007 and May 4, 2010 entitled, respectively, "An Alert Scrap Metal Worker Discovers a Pretty 'Penny' Hidden in a Mound of Rubble" and "Picked Up by a Garbage Truck Driver and Dumped with the Remainder of the Trash, Alfie Narrowly Misses Being Recycled.")
A few cats even have the notoriously bad luck of being accidentally exiled to city dumps by their thoughtless owners. (See Cat Defender post of March 23, 2009 entitled "Mistakenly Tossed Out with the Trash, Autumn Survives a Harrowing Trip to the City Dump in Order to Live Another Day.")
In the final analysis it does not make much difference whether a cat is buried alive, like Libby, or tossed out in the trash because it is just as dead whichever modus operandi is employed. Moreover, there can be little doubt that the number of cats and kittens who die from both methods each year is astronomical.
Accordingly, there is absolutely nothing bewildering about this entire sordid affair. Au contraire, what was done to Libby is every bit as mundane as death and taxes on the one hand and smelly feet and bad breath on the other hand. It is revolting, however, that humane groups, the police, and garbage haulers cannot be prevailed upon to take positive measures in order to end this senseless and needless sacrificing of feline lives.
Photo: Squamish Valley Branch of the BC SPCA.