I learned today that convicted dog fighter and former NFL superstar, Michael Vick, regrets his criminal activity and wants to spend his future days telling young people that fighting dogs is wrong. Not only is animal abuse wrong, it is against the law. Breaking the law means punishment. Michael Vick went to jail for 23 months because he broke the law and caused many, many dogs to suffer. I hope Michael Vick is really and truly sorry; I hope Michael Vick can make a difference and prevent young people from engaging in dog fighting.
I also hope that whoever burned Gertrude is sorry. The person who committed this crime was not caught and did not serve time. Our veterinarians had never seen a living animal as badly burned as Gertrude. D.C. Animal Control picked up the two-year-old cat on the streets of Washington on April 14. Her whiskers were singed, the skin on her feet was completely burned off, she had more burns on her legs and face, her fur was full of black ash, and she smelled of smoke.
We don't know how she was burned, but my suspicion is that someone intentionally hurt her. The League veterinarian who first saw Gertrude wondered how she had survived the burns without prior treatment. Even with immediate care, the hospital concluded that most likely her right hind leg and tail would eventually need to be amputated.
What’s worse, the cat’s burns were not her only problem: she was dehydrated and extremely malnourished. She should have weighed seven pounds. Instead, she weighed three. That means that little Gertrude was on her own for quite awhile.
“We treated her burns with daily bandage changes and cleaning, and it now looks as if she might only need a toe amputation,” said shelter medicine manager Maureen Henry. “She was always a really sweet cat, and we were sure she would get adopted quickly once she healed.”
To everyone’s amazement and relief, Gertrude made a full recovery. She will get to keep all her legs and all but the very tip of her tail. The skin on her feet has grown back. Gertrude was moved from the League's hospital to the adoption area today.
It shouldn't take long for her to find her forever home. “Whoever gets her is going to love her—she loves to be held, she loves to play with toys, she’s just the best,” Marq Nelson, the League’s feline expert, said. “I’d take her home with me in a second if I could.”
Someone knows what happened to Gertrude. Maybe someone witnessed someone torturning the trusting tabby. No one reported seeing anything. That, too, should be a crime. Animal abuse is against the law, but prosecution only happens when the crime is reported. If you see someone hurting an animal, please report it to the proper agency. I don't know who finally called the Washington Humane Society to report seeing the badly burned Gertrude, but I sure am glad that they did.