Sona to undergo surgery in St. John's

Rebekah Ward
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Cat blinded by pellet gun to benefit from pro bono veterinary services

Sona, the town of Mainland cat that underwent extensive surgery in Stephenville after being shot in both eyes, was moved to St. John’s Wednesday in order to receive the rest of her acute medical care for free.

Dr. Beth Marshall, co-owner of the Avalon Animal Hospital, has offered pro bono services for the remainder of the feline’s treatments.

“When my business partner Jillian Morris and I ... heard about Sona’s case we thought that she would be a perfect fit for our skill set here. And we’ve got a very dedicated, very passionate team who really wanted to be part of her care,” Marshall said.

Just as Sona’s medical care was changing hands, the cat’s rescuer, Gwenn Samms, found herself in need of care as well.

Samms, a volunteer for SCAPA (Society for Care and Protection of Animals), suffered a heart attack and was brought to the intensive care unit in Stephenville.

“She’s got no prior history of heart problems,” Samms’ friend and fellow animal advocate Linda Sheppard said.

“I think it’s all the stress of all the animal rescues, and the pace that she does with the animals. It’s just so fast-paced right now, with all the abuse cases.”

Sheppard went to visit Samms on Tuesday, and then brought Sona back to Deer Lake. From there, Scaredy Cat Rescue founder Janice Higgins drove the cat to St. John’s.

“(Samms is) very worried about Sona,” Sheppard said.

“She wanted to be the one to take Sona to the vet herself, in St. John’s. She just got the call from Dr. Beth Marshall and was making the arrangements when she got sick.”

Sheppard, the owner of the Foodland in Deer Lake, saw Sona for the first time when she picked the cat up.

“You don’t realize how bad everything is until you see this kitty up close. It’s awful. But her strong will to survive is just awesome,” Sheppard said.

“We got her back (to Deer Lake) and she was purring, and she was eating. I’m not one of these people that believes you keep an animal going no matter what, if they’re suffering. But, you know, she wants to live.”

By now, Sona’s care in Stephenville has been covered by donors, and the remainder of her care in St. John’s will be donated by the clinic. However, Sheppard says many other donors recognize the importance of their continued help.

“Everybody (participating in the online auction for Sona) jumped in and said, ‘We should continue,’” Sheppard said.

“Because when she gets into her permanent home, she is going to need continuing care. She is going to need medication. She may need more surgeries down the road. They’ve also said that SCAPA is always in need of funds. They’re always taking in the worst cases of animal abuse, (even when) the SPCA won’t.”

Marshall has been keeping Samms, Sheppard and others in the loop about Sona’s condition.

“We just got another update from Dr. Marshall (on Thursday). Sona has to have another surgery on the eye she has already had surgery on. She’s probably got a bacterial infection,” Sheppard said.

Sona is going in for surgery today.

“Really, our first step is to assess the extent of all her injuries,” Marshall said.

“We’re continuing a lot of the really excellent work that was done at a veterinary hospital on the west coast. There are a few problems that we’re seeing emerge with the eye that she has been shot in, so we have to deal with that (today). ... We’re dealing with her (problematic teeth). I want to get an idea of the extent of any gun pellets left in her, and following that we’re going to be looking at dealing with her injured leg.”

Marshall says that even though Sona has been through hell, her prospects are encouraging.

“She is a sweet little girl who settled in really well, and she just seems to steal the hearts of people wherever she goes,” Marshall said.

“We feel privileged to be a part of this.”

Organizations: Avalon Animal Hospital, Foodland

Geographic location: Stephenville, Deer Lake, St. John's Mainland

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Recent comments

  • darin
    July 20, 2013 - 20:59

    the person or persons who did this you will someday pay for this when you leave this world you will have to answer to your doings before god but i hope the trap door opens and you go to the devil you heartless dick weed

  • Prayers for Sona & Gwen
    July 19, 2013 - 23:54

    Prayers go out to Sona & Gwen that you both have a good recovery! No wonder Gwen has so much stress in her life as she is one of a few that would take abused and neglected animals into her care, only to be kicked in the teeth by those who try to knock her down. Keep up the faith Gwen and get well soon as these helpless creatures need you. Too bad this rescue isn't funded by government like the SPCA'S. Yes, when my kid volunteered she came home one evening and said that a paid worker had said that "it was time to clean house". She didn't know what was meant by it until she returned to volunteer, only to learn that some innocent critters were euthanized due to overcrowding and their time was long enough at the shelter. Gwen, you are an angel and so is this vet who has taken Sona under her wing. God Bless you!

  • Paul
    July 19, 2013 - 19:06

    Good work to the Animal Hospital and the SPACA. Well Done. Brave cat. Now to the SOB that shot the cat - - - your a ridiculous, sick and twisted individual. I don't wish anything bad on people but Karma will bite you in the ass. Get a life and get some help.

  • Joan
    July 19, 2013 - 16:21

    What the people of SCAPA do is most heroic! They are 100 % volunteer rescuers of poor abused animal that others, including SPCA either will NOT take or they take to immediately euthanize! Still isn't it crazy that they are the ones getting all the government grants and protection under the new animal protection act while compassionate people like Gwen Samms of SCAPA , who has recently even had the law turn on her for helping RCMP, continues to save animals of abuse. In my eyes Gwen, you are an angel on earth lady! If only the SPCA could learn her kind of compassion!

  • Jack
    July 19, 2013 - 15:57

    Thank God for the small struggling independent rescue groups like this one for caring more about animals than the almighty dollar. This poor cat and many many other animals would have been ignored and left to suffer horribly and die, or finally picked up and killed immediately by the big highly paid and gov't funded shelters. Next time you want to donate to HELP ANIMALS give it to your local rescue that is all run by volunteers who actually love animals and care enough to save their lives regardless of the cost, both monetary and personal as seen in SCAPA's rescue of sweet Sona. They deserve to be rewarded and hoping they both get healthy and live the happy lives they so deserve.

  • yo mama
    July 19, 2013 - 15:54

    I like animals more than most people.

  • Donna Farrell
    July 19, 2013 - 14:18

    Sad thing is, that when and if this person is caught, he/she will get a slap on the wrist and told that they are bad, don't do it again! Or else. Or else what? We might give you a fine or not allow you to have animals for 10 yrs? OMG. This system needs to change.I am sickened by this.

  • Yvette Butt
    July 19, 2013 - 14:18

    Get well soon Sona and Gwen!!!

  • Thank You "The Telegram" for keeping this horrific story in the forefront.
    July 19, 2013 - 13:03

    Thank You "The Telegram" for keeping this horrible atrocity to this dear trusting cat in the eyes of your readers. I also hope if the person who did this is found that he/she would be interviewed because I expect that the person might have had an upbringing where he/she might have been treated as horribly as this cat was treated. Believe me there are children and adults out there who are treated horribly, as well. It is really a Sad thought to think that any living thing would be subjected to such horrific treatment. We all know it exists in Society and it needs to be fixed immediately for both people and animals.

  • seanoairborne
    July 19, 2013 - 12:44

    The best story I've read in The Telegram in a long time!!God Bless that vet and all the good folks who are taking care of this poor little animal!!I wish Soma the best of luck in her treatments!!And thanks again to all the folks that are involved with this animals welfare and care!My hat's off to you all!!

    • Linda Sheppard
      July 19, 2013 - 15:12

      Thank you Rebekah for doing this story. Gwen Samms who rescued Sona will also be in St.Johns soon herself. She will be air lifted to St.johns for further tests concerning her heart attack, she continues to rest and heal, just like her little rescue Sona. She is looking forward to meeting Dr.Beth Marshall who is now Sonas angel.

  • Animal Lover
    July 19, 2013 - 11:13

    I am so appauled at the cruelty suffered by the innocent, harmless creature's who do nothing to deserve it. It's scarey to think what kind of cruel, heartless and evil people are walking among us. That beautiful little animal to have to suffer at the evil hands of those horrible people. If they do that do an animal what would they do to a child. I certainly hope that the person/ persons responsible will be caught then, of course we know the punishment they will probably lose their pellet guns. I applaude and commend the doctor's and who are helping this poor little animal and wish Ms. Samms a speedy recovery.God bless the animal lover's.

  • animallover
    July 19, 2013 - 10:57

    God love her and everyone who is helping her and who helps all animals in need! There needs to be more people like you!

  • Gerri
    July 19, 2013 - 10:39

    I am so disgusted with the person(s) who did this to an innocent animal. How would you like to have your eyes clawed out by the cat?? But I guess that's 'different' because you as a human being are 'entitled' being at the top of the food chain and a 'super-power human'....go hang your head in shame!