Kittens defy odds, survive dump fire  

Matt Molloy
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Phoenix (left) and Vesta have been through quite an ordeal in their young lives. They’re not even a year old, and have already survived a dump fire and cuts that were crawling with maggots. — Photo by Matt Molloy/The Beacon

The Gander and Area SPCA is home to many adorable animals begging to be adopted. They all have their own story, but a few of them have stories of such incredible hardship and survival it can’t help but tug at your heartstrings.

Two of those animals are cats Vesta and Phoenix, and what they went through before being saved by an unnamed woman in Glenwood is horrific.

It’s not known if the two are siblings.

After they were abandoned at the Glenwood dump, the two cats were left to survive or die. Their situation didn’t get any better when a fire spread through their new home. Shortly after the fire was extinguished, a young Glenwood woman, who tends to stray cats, took a trip to the dump to see if she could find any stray survivors.

She got out of her vehicle and immediately heard two cries for help. One was from Phoenix, and the other was from Vesta.

The woman brought them to the home of Gander and Area SPCA manager Bonnie Harris.

Although Harris admitted to seeing worse cases of animal cruelty, she won’t forget her first glance of Phoenix and Vesta.

“When we first got them, they looked like mummified kittens,” Harris said.

“Their eyes were swollen shut, their fur had been singed, especially little Phoenix, because she looks like she’s a longer hair than what she is. There are no burns on their bodies, which is very odd, except Phoenix has a little burn on her back. All of the burns were on their faces and their feet. … The feet are extremely, extremely burned, and I believe a lot of their toes are burnt off, and they were declawed by burning. There were a lot of maggots in their toes … but we have those taken care of.”

Vesta and Phoenix were abandoned at the trash site when they were 12-14 weeks old.

Initially it was believed the kittens wouldn’t survive their ordeal.

It wasn’t the burns or cuts that worried Harris, it was where the cats were found.

“I called the vet clinic and we brought them there the moment they got in. We were thinking they would probably have to be euthanized because if kittens are normally born at the dump, they end up being wild,” Harris said. “But we really don’t think they were. They’re too calm.”

Both Phoenix and Vesta have been put on antibiotics and go through a treatment of soaking their feet two to three times a day.

Shortly before Phoenix and Vesta arrived at Harris’ home — where they still live — another litter of kittens was saved from the Glenwood dump.

Harris said if people can’t afford kittens, they should have their cat spayed. If they can’t afford to spay their cat, she suggested bringing home a plant instead of something with a heartbeat.

“This is what can happen when you decide to take your kittens and throw them in the dump. There are all kinds of things that can happen to them there. They can get burned, sustain injuries from glass, tin cans and other cats. And we heard cases of kids up there shooting at them,” Harris said.

Hopefully, when the day comes when someone can adopt them, they’ll go together.

“They are extremely affectionate with each other,” Harris said. “They’ll groom each other, nuzzle up with each other, and when one is over-eating, the other will drag herself over to eat.”

Phoenix means rise from the ashes; and Vesta is the virgin goddess of the hearth, home, and family, and is symbolized by a ring of fire.

Geographic location: Phoenix, Vesta, Glenwood

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Recent comments

  • Peggy
    October 17, 2011 - 04:57

    This lady has a heart of gold; those who leave helpless animals at the dump or elsewhere have no hearts at all. God bless you.

  • Kevin Power
    October 16, 2011 - 21:50

    Some people are cruel and some people just don't care. They treat animals as bad as they treat humans, the big difference is that animals don't have anyone to speak for them. My wife and I have rescued 21 kittens over the past three years, paid the vet bills, domesticated them and found homes for most of them. This situation was caused by someone releasing their pets into the bush behind our property. This whole situation could have been avoided, if the mother cat had been brought to an animal shelter, if the owners couldn't afford to keep the cat or have it spayed, there are alternatives.

  • mj
    October 16, 2011 - 08:02

    God bless the little babies. I've heard stories before like this but can never get used to it. I and my kids were off to church one Christmas Day and found two kittens in the garbage. We brought them home and they were loving pets to us for over ten years. God bless these two in their healing!

  • paula
    October 15, 2011 - 23:00

    If I could afford the SPCA fees along with the vet fees I would love these two. I have a cat and a dog....more like kids to me. The fees you have to pay is a deterant most of the time, and there a lot of people out there who would do their best by them, but both fees combined are out of reach. I understand the SPCA, but the fees by the Veterinarians seem so high.

    • Jaime
      October 17, 2011 - 14:02

      I cant believe you are actually complaining about the fees?? How else do you expect the organization to remain open?? The fees are what save these animals! I have to say I am absolutely shocked by your remarks.

  • Comment
    October 15, 2011 - 21:43

    What is wrong with people?? I feel that a person who is capable of such cruelty to an animal is a monster! Like the article states, if you cannot afford to spay/neuter your pet and take care of them properly, go get a plant! Too many heartless people in this world.