Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Angel of Death

Here is a story I wasn't going to post, but I must because my writing seems to be frozen until I exorcise the demon.
On July 31, Woody, my 19-year-old cat, was outside on our deck sunning himself in customary fashion. We always kept a close eye on the old boy because his health was failing, but being outside for a few hours each day was one of his greatest pleasures. (Another favorite pastime was parking himself in the middle of the room when my husband's band gathered for practice; Woody loved folk music.)
Unfortunately, around noon on that Friday, he wandered about ten feet from our property line onto the parking lot of the church next door. A woman who was at the church for business--someone who knew nothing of the neighborhood--saw Woody and thought he looked "distressed," so she put him in her car and drove him away. How did I learn this? I knew Woody was missing just before one o'clock and began looking everywhere for him. Someone at the church heard that a woman had taken a cat that she "found," and with further inquiries, I learned the woman's name. She had left no note or contact information other than her business card, but of course it was Friday afternoon and she wasn't in her office. After several more phone calls, someone remembered the woman said she lived in Lindenhurst. With her name, that information and the internet, I found a phone number and was able to reach Erin Nebel. When she answered her phone, I asked if she had taken a cat from L.F.
"Yes," she answered.
"That was my cat," I replied. "Where did you take him? How do I get him back?"
"You can't," she answered, "I took him to my vet and had him put down."

Needless to say, I was shocked and horrified. In the three weeks since that terrible day, I have tried to come to terms with what happened. Yes, I blame myself for not making Woody wear a collar. But the greater problem is someone who made an assumption that was so completely wrong and had irrevocable results. Woody was poorly, but he was robbed of his final days and of a peaceful death surrounded by people with whom he was familiar.
I have asked that both Ms. Nebel and the veterinary practice who performed the euthanasia make a donation to a No Kill shelter. I have also asked the veterinarians to review their policies regarding "strays." If they had given Woody even a few hours grace, this never would have happened. Finally, I ask that everyone out there consider a micro-chip implant for their animals. Woki had one put in the Monday after all this happened.

Perhaps now, after writing this, I can move on, but I won't forget.