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Community pay bill for injured Whiskers

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Badly mauled: Whiskers awaits treatment for a broken pelvis

Animal lovers have come out in force for a “devastated” family unable to cover bills after their treasured cat was badly mauled by a dog — and now an online campaign has begun for others to help.

In a first fundraising drive by the newly formed Bermuda Medical Emergency Fund, 56 people rallied to cover the entire $3,500 veterinary bill for Whiskers the cat.

“I am speechless,” his owner said this morning, adding: “Thank you so much. We all really appreciate it.”

The injured cat has been booked to have his broken pelvis repaired in surgery for Monday.

In fact, $4,725 had come in by 10am today, and organisers have vowed to put the excess aside to help other needy families afford treatment for their pets.

The fundraisers say they will make sure only people genuinely in need will qualify for help.

Whiskers’ owner is one example: a single mother named Sarah who asked not to be identified in full to protect her privacy.

The Sandys resident told The Royal Gazette that she lives “pay cheque to child support to pay cheque”.

“I just don’t have the money to pay,” Sarah explained, adding that Whiskers should have been operated upon yesterday but could not.

“My son is legally blind, and we travel back and forth to doctors in Boston. My bill on Sunday was $800 and by Monday it was $1,000. Everybody I have spoken to does a payment plan, but even with that I don’t have the extra money.

“Whiskers was supposed to have surgery. With a broken pelvis you wait to operate. It takes longer and it is more painful for the cat, but I don’t have a choice.”

The family believes Whiskers was attacked between last Friday and Saturday.

“He went out Friday night and didn’t come back till late Saturday night,” Sarah said. “Normally he would be home every morning for breakfast. He dragged himself back home and my son found him outside.

“My son is devastated by it — he’s 13. My son found him when he was three weeks old and bought him home, and fed him and give him milk — he did it all. Right now Whiskers is up in my son’s room; we put the mattress on the floor for him. He can’t move to eat.”

Along with a broken pelvis, the cat has a badly pulled leg joint and is on painkillers.

Sarah went to the Facebook question and answer forum MAJ’s List, and sent a message to the Bermuda Feline Assistance Bureau. Her plight was spotted by Libby Cook-Toppan,

“Having personally been faced with large medical vet bills myself, I completely understand the anxiety,” Ms Cook-Toppan said.

“I only very recently finished paying off a very large vet bill to Endsmeet Animal Hospital for two pets with medical emergencies — one of which is sadly no longer with us because I could not afford to take her away for an MRI. With the current economic situation, I was not able to pay off my vet bill as quickly as I would have liked. But Endsmeet were incredibly understanding and kind in allowing me to pay it off.”

She pointed out that Sarah’s son’s devotion to Whiskers showed the integral role pets play in the lives of children.

“In addition to responsibility and empathy, studies show that pets can foster emotional, cognitive, social and physical development.

“A co-worker of mine, Alisa Woolridge, also had a medical emergency resulting in a large vet bill for her cat that had been hit by a car. Like Whiskers, her cat dragged herself home with a broken pelvis. Knowing how difficult it can be, Alisa and I have been wanting to set up some sort of assistance to help those who cannot afford the surgery for their pets for some time.

“When Sarah contacted me, Alisa and I immediately got to work on setting up the Facebook page and the GoFundMe account for Sarah. We will continue to do this on a case-by-case basis for those who are truly in need of assistance.”

She said that some might feel a need to challenge an online appeal for a cat, but added: “Many do not understand that these animals are often far more than pets. They are therapeutic companions and important family members.

“I don’t expect those who are not animal lovers to understand, but the fact is that of 345 registered non-profit and charitable organisations in Bermuda, less than 1.25 per cent are for animals and none of them can offer assistance for this sort of thing.

“We are simply asking animal lovers to help in any way they can. If you cannot afford to donate, consider sharing the funding page with friends, co-workers and family. Every penny helps and I know Sarah and her son are so very grateful — as will Whiskers be when he gets his much needed surgery.”

To follow the campaign, go to www.gofundme.com/l08zy4.

I need help: Whiskers awaiting treatment