Like most Soft Side stories, this one started with a post.
“Anybody in Essex available to help me with a cat rescue?“
It was a post from Dawn Marie who, if you follow us regularly, you’ll know is one of a small army of Baltimore Kitty Angels who will move heaven and earth to save a feline in distress. I wondered if this meant our four-day dry spell on Kitty Fund requests was about to come to a screeching halt. (Since Covid hit, Christmas weekend was the first time in 9 months we had gone more than a day without a request for help.)
A few hours later, Dawn Marie posted an update:
“Meet George. He was stuck in a sewer drain, crying out loudly for help. Luckily, someone heard his desperate cry. I’m waiting to see what can be done to help him. He is severely dehydrated, hypothermic, and has low blood sugar. He very possibly has an upper respiratory infection going on also. If they can stabilize him, I will be taking him home. I’ll know more later. Thanks again to Show Your Soft Side for helping kitties like George.”
That’s strange, I thought. I hadn’t seen any requests come in, yet it was obvious from the photos – George was in a bad way and was receiving emergency care.
By following the thread, I was able to get a better idea of what had gone down. A Good Sam walked outside to have a cigarette, heard a cat crying and realized it was coming from a nearby manhole. He reached out to friends for a crowbar, reached out to Dawn Marie for some kitty help (she’s a legend in these parts) and together they managed to retrieve a bedraggled, sick and crying cat from the Baltimore sewer. There’s video, but I’ll spare you that heartbreak. Listening to the anguished cries of this poor kitty is like a knife straight to the heart.
George didn’t move that manhole cover by himself. He didn’t “wander” into the sewer and then find himself stuck. Someone wanted him to die and they wanted him to die alone. It was only by the grace of God that a nicotine craving led someone to not only hear his cries but act on them.
For me, the story sent me spiraling back into another deep hole. In 2013 a dog named Dean was found 20 feet down in a Baltimore sewer. Like in George’s case, a bystander heard his cries and had to wrestle a manhole cover before reaching the pup who, I might add, was permanently blinded from the trauma of the “fall.” Deemed by the authorities to be feral, Dean would have been euthanized had not a small group on strangers come together to save his life. Those strangers have since become lifelong friends to us and Dean went on to live a full and very loved life with a family in Pennsylvania.
All I could think about was please let this be another Dean. Let George recover and know kindness for once in his short life.
As I was trying to follow the progress, a private message popped up to myself and Caroline. (Caroline administers the fund, but I’m copied as back up.) It turned out that because of the severity of the situation, Dawn Marie had called Caroline directly for an okay. Caroline was already on the phone to a local veterinary practice giving them our credit card info and a heads up that George was on his way. The Kitty Angel community in Baltimore is a tight one and now that the fund has been in existence for over a year and a half, caretakers know who and where to call in emergency situations.
It wasn’t long after that I saw pictures of George, now safe and warm at Dawn Marie’s “Kitty Shack.” He’d eaten like a champ and was snuggled in warm towels and fuzzy blankets.
All was now good with the world.
It’s funny how a cat you’ve never met can burrow its way into your heart and squeeze it for all its worth. I was already fantasizing about making the acquaintance of George on my next visit to the Kitty Shack.
The next morning, the first thing I did was head over to Dawn’s page to see how George was faring. Her post stopped me in my tracks.
Even now as I write this, just looking at the photos makes my heart hurt and my eyes tear up. One month ago, we lost our kitty, Buster, and I cried for days. I expected that, but I didn’t expect to feel such devastation over a kitty I never met.
But it’s the cruelty behind his horrific life and senseless death that hurts the most. Someone wanted this kitty to die slowly and in anguish. My only consolation is that one part of their plan was foiled. Instead of dying alone, cold and pleading for help, George passed peacefully in the arms of an Angel.
I don’t know how caretakers like Dawn Marie are able to deal with this heartbreak on a regular basis, but thankfully they do. And we all owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
Our Street Kitty Medical Fund is the only fund of its kind that covers emergency medical and dental for Baltimore’s homeless cats. It’s one small way we can help the angels who are out there every day caring for the kitties that society has abandoned. For more information, click here.