2017-03-23 / Front Page

Another cat abandoned

By Garrick Hoffman
Staff Writer

SACO – For the second time in about a month, a cat was abandoned in a box in the Saco Valley Shopping Center.

SacoAnimal Control Officer Bruce Reynolds responded to a call at 2 p.m. Monday, March 13 from a patron at Shaw’s Supermarket. Someone had discovered a box that was taped up with a towel draped over it in a shopping cart. The box contained a large, domestic short-haired male cat. A note was inside the box that described the cat as male, 4 years old, possibly feral and prone to biting and scratching. The cat, who showed no signs of neglect or abuse and was healthy and neutered, was brought to Pet Life in Saco on the same day, where Reynolds picked it up and brought it to Animal Welfare Society in West Kennebunk.

“My groomer and I opened up the box to find a very fat, very sweet, not ever feral, big black and white cat who was very happy to be out of the box,” said Pet Life Manager Holly Dustin. “It was happy but confused. He didn’t expect to spend his day trapped in a box.”

Dustin said although she and the company love cats, it is not their job to receive unwanted pets.

“We’ll get it help, but we’re not a rescue,” she said.

Animal Welfare Society took a different cat that was abandoned at Pet Life last month in Saco. The cat was in much worse condition, with duct tape around its face and covered in diarrhea. It also had a broken leg.

Animal Welfare Society Executive Director Abigail Smith said the society facilitated veterinarian care for the cat discovered in early February, and it was monitored for several weeks. The society was given custody of the cat by the state on Feb. 21, and eventually a member of the Saco Police Department adopted it.

The investigation is still open, but police have explored all leads they can, said Deputy Chief Corey Huntress said. It will remain open pending any new information or leads and there could be charges filed.

Huntress said it’s not known how long the cat was left in the shopping cart, but an investigation is underway to gather more information.

“The animal didn’t appear to have been left overnight. We’re still looking into any surveillance footage for a better idea of that,” Huntress said.

Animal Welfare Society, a nonprofit organization, accepts pets that owners no longer want or can care for, and it does not charge a fee for surrender. Smith said there is typically no waiting list, but they prefer pet owners make appointments about a week in advance so the society can be better prepared for an unwanted pet’s arrival. If the owner needs to drop it off that day, however, the society will accept it.

“We’d be here to respond to that need if a person really needed to drop a pet off,” Smith said.

When the owner arrives to drop off an animal, he or she is asked to fill out a survey to describe its behaviors, preferred diet, what they’re afraid of and any other information pertaining to it so the society can adequately care for the animal. Smith also said a more personal item of the pet’s, such as a blanket or toy, is suggested to accompany the pet when being dropped off to foster comfort while it lives at the society.

“It helps the animal feel less like they’re in a strange place,” she said.

Although the society does not require a fee for surrendering a pet, it does encourage donations.

“We always appreciate donations,” Smith said. “It takes resources to provide veterinarian care and to provide for animals.”

The remaining question that lingers is why people choose to leave their pets in public places – especially during the winter – instead of seeking out proper avenues to ensure pets’ safety.

“We never know why somebody does what they do, but there are avenues out there for them for another good home for them,” Huntress said. “If people aren’t able to take care of animals for whatever reasons, (we’d like them) to reach out and we’d be able to give them directions on where to take animals to hopefully be (adopted by) somebody.”

Dustin surmises that people may feel uneasy or embarrassed to surrender their pet.

“I think people feel guilty. Maybe people don’t have cars and can’t get down (to the animal shelter). I think people are afraid that they’ll get tagged as a bad animal parent because they can’t take care of their animal anymore. It’s the right thing to get them help; it’s the wrong thing to put them in a box and leave them outside. There’s no reason it has to be this way. There’s people out there that will help.”

Smith believes people may not know the animal shelter has an open-door policy.

“Our role is to support the community and support needs they have,” she said. “Whoever had this last cat and just couldn’t keep it anymore for any reason – it’s not our position to judge, it’s to help the animal. We don’t charge fees to bring a pet. Our role is to be safety net. I’m wondering if folks don’t realize that or if it’s difficult for them to surrender their pet. But bringing it to the animal shelter is safer thing to do than for someone to find them in a parking lot . . . We really want to do the right thing for the animal.”

Return to top