Cruelly and Irresponsibly Abandoned at a Michigan Rest Stop, Milkie Is Saved by Staffers Who Did What His Derelict Owner Was Unwilling to Do
|Milkie Recuperates in a Rest Stop Toilet|
"Unfortunately the family had to leave their beloved pet behind that day and continue their trip. As you can imagine, the family was heartbroken."
-- Alyson Payne of the State of Michigan Welcome Center
How much is the life of a family cat worth? As far as Graham Skelly and his ten-year-old son, Simon, are concerned, the life and well-being of their fourteen-year-old cat, Milkie, was worth only about two hours of their precious time.
Back on August 21st, the duo were en route from Seattle to their new residence in Arlington, Virginia, when they decided to stop at the State of Michigan Welcome Center in New Buffalo, just across the Indiana and Michigan stateline and one-hundred-twenty-two kilometers east of Chicago on the shores of Lake Michigan. In an effort apparently designed to give Milkie some fresh air, they took him out of their truck and tethered him outside and that was when disaster struck without warning.
A dog, belonging presumably to another motorist, spooked him and he broke free of his tether and ran into the woods of the sixty-five-acre rest area. Even though staffers magnanimously agreed to help the Skellys search for Milkie, the father and son were willing to devote only about two hours to the effort before shamelessly saying the hell with him and continuing on their merry way.
"Unfortunately the family had to leave their beloved pet behind that day and continue their trip," the rest area's Alyson Payne told the Harbor County News of New Buffalo on August 30th. (See "Wayward Tabby Retrieved at New Buffalo Welcome Center for Long Drive Home.") "As you can imagine, the family was heartbroken."
Au contraire, the Skellys' cared almost nothing at all about Milkie's fate or they never would have cruelly abandoned him to fend for himself; rather, if they had felt differently they would have stayed there until they found him no matter how long that exercise entailed. Furthermore, Payne is guilty of attempting to cover up that ugly truth by ludicrously claiming that they were "heartbroken." What matters, after all, is not what they felt, but rather what poor Milkie was thinking after they ran off and left him in a strange land.
Besides, the Skellys did not have anything going on in Arlington that could not have waited for a few days. The city, no big deal in its own right, was not going anywhere and would have still been waiting for them.
To her and her co-workers' credit, however, Payne never gave up on Milkie and that in itself stands in stark contrast to the Skellys' unconscionable conduct. "Members of our staff spotted him over the course of the next few days, but he would run from us," she disclosed to the Harbor County News. "I was able to grab him one day, but he scratched me and ran back into the bushes."
That in itself would have dissuaded most individuals from continuing their rescue efforts but that was not the case with Payne. Instead, she contacted Animal Lovers Incorporated, a no-kill shelter located eleven kilometers east of New Buffalo in Three Oaks, which graciously provided her with a humane trap that was baited and set out near the rest area's lighthouse on August 25th. All of her good work paid a huge dividend the following morning when Milkie was found to be safe and sound inside the enclosure.
The elder Skelly, who was promptly notified by telephone, then devoted ten hours to retracing the one-thousand-thirty-three kilometers that separate Arlington from New Buffalo in order to collect Milkie on August 28th. In the aftermath the Skellys were said to have been "ecstatic" and "grateful" for Milkie's safe return, but then again they very well could not have told Payne anything differently without exposing themselves to be even worse monsters than their original abhorrent behavior had demonstrated them to be.
That is because there can be little doubt that Milkie would not have lasted for very long if Payne and her co-workers had not intervened. First of all, the service area and Interstate-94 which runs alongside it are extremely busy pieces of real estate and few motorists are willing to brake for cats; on the contrary, most of them go out of their way in order to run them down.
Secondly, the surrounding woods are chock-full of predators such as raccoons, skunks, coyotes and even wolves and cougars are not unknown to pass through that part of the country. Thirdly, food soon would have become a major problem for him and without shelter there is not any conceivable way that he ever could have survived even one of Michigan's notoriously cold and snowy winters.
If he had been cruelly declawed, Milkie not only would have been unable to have scaled trees in order to evade predators but he also could not have either hunted or defended himself. As a domesticated cat, he also in all likelihood lacked the prerequisite savoir-faire in order to have fended for himself in the wild.
His age was also against him in that no fourteen-year-old cat ever should be abandoned under any conceivable circumstances. (See Cat Defender post of February 2, 2015 entitled "Cruelly Denatured and Locked Up Indoors for All of His Life, Nicky Is Suddenly Thrust into the Bitter Cold and Snow for Twenty-One Consecutive Days with Predictably Tragic Results.")
Every bit as predictable as clockwork, the slimy capitalist media got the gist of the story all wrong once again by choosing to portray Milkie's travails as just another happy cat rescue when instead they should have been outraged by the elder Skelly's irresponsible behavior. The same criticism applies in spades to Animal Lovers and every other animal protection group in the New Buffalo vicinity.
First of all, the elder Skelly should have been charged with both abandonment and animal cruelty. Hopefully, he then would have been convicted and sentenced to, at the very minimum, ten years of hard labor at some hellhole penal institution.
Above all, Payne and Animal Lovers never under any circumstances should have returned Milkie to him. Anyone who would abandon an elderly cat in the wilds of Michigan is most definitely not a fit guardian.
Worst still, Skelly's behavior toward Milkie does not bode well for his long-term prospects. In particular, he likely will not even think so much as twice about having him killed off at either some shelter or surgery once he becomes either ill or his presence is no longer desired.
It is not too late, however, for animal cruelty investigators in Arlington to look into this disturbing matter. If only they could be prevailed upon to stir their lazy, worthless bones, they just might for once succeed in saving a life.
None of that is meant in any way to imply that traveling with cats is ever easy. It is not and mishaps occur all the time. (See Cat Defender posts of July 16, 2007 and May 8, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Accidentally Trapped in a Shipping Crate, Calico Cat Named Spice Survives Nineteen-Day Voyage from Hawaii to San Bernardino" and "Domino, Feral and All Alone, Faces an Uncertain Future in Wisconsin Following an Unplanned Trip to Arizona.")
The crime therefore lies not in losing a cat, but rather in being too callous and derelict as an owner in order to even look for it. To make a long story short, if Skelly had intentionally left his son at the rest center he unquestionably would have been arrested and charged with child abandonment and what he did to Milkie was far worse.
That is because either someone or some group sooner or later would have come to Simon's rescue whereas the odds that someone like Payne would have intervened on Milkie's behalf are infinitesimally smaller. In that respect, he is extremely fortunate to even be alive.
Photo: Alyson Payne.