First and foremost I’m an animal lover, and saving them all is truly in my blood. From the first time I realized a stray cat was a cat that didn’t have a home, to when I encountered injured wildlife in my parents’ backyard, I knew I wanted to do whatever it took to save them. I knew that, in that moment, I had the power to save Colby’s found cat. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
But secondly, and perhaps most importantly, I remember being in so many similar situations when the rescue didn’t exist yet. Nearly identical, in fact. Like when I was 16 and I picked up a cat on the side of the road who had also been hit by a car and was still alive. Because I was young, didn’t know where to go, and didn’t have the funds to bring it to the emergency vet, I cared for it overnight with the intention of bringing it into my local veterinary in the morning. But when I woke up the next morning, the cat had passed away.
I remember the personal agony, guilt, and helplessness that came with wanting to help but not being able to or not knowing how. I remember that gut-wrenching feeling that settled in my stomach when I couldn’t save them, and how much I could only hope someone else would find them or could do something to help them. I remember it all too well, and I didn’t want Colby to feel even a second of it.
In that moment—the moment right before I told Colby we’d help him save this cat’s life—I thought of one of my life goals. It’s a quote and, while it seems simple, it’s important. I try to live by it every day. “Be the person you needed when you were younger.”
“Be the person you needed when you were younger.”
When I was 16 and I found that cat on the side of the road, I needed someone like myself now, at 32. Colby needed me in this moment; so did the cat he was hopeful to save. The cat who passed away when I was 16 may have lived if someone like 32-year-old me had existed.
So, I said yes, of course we will save her.
Colby dropped everything and drove the cat to the emergency vet clinic in Blaine. He tried to keep her comfortable and still, unaware of the damages done to her body, while in a bit of a hopeful panic. I called the vet clinic and told them to expect Colby and the found cat, giving them the OK to treat her and consult on what she needed to be healthy again.
Once she arrived, the cat received IV fluids, pain medication, an initial exam, and x-rays. She also had her wounds cleaned and treated. Unfortunately, the x-rays revealed a worse than we were hoping for prognosis: she had an awful hip fracture and her tail was splintered into multiple fractures as well. The emergency veterinarian advised we get a professional surgical consultation to help make the best decision on how to care for her moving forward, but hinted that the surgery that would entail was not going to be easy. However, our patient was a purring machine in good spirits, and was young—young enough that she had a good shot at recovering if she had surgery.
After hearing all this, I knew it was going to be expensive saving this cat’s life. The things I have to consider in a situation like this, unfortunate as they are, are important. Like, how many other cats could we save with the amount of money that we were potentially going to end up spending on this one? Will we even be able to raise the funds to pay for this cat’s medical expenses? But by this point I wasn’t going to give up on her. I KNEW there had to be individuals out there who would want to help me save her and would make it okay for me to say “yes, let’s move forward and do whatever is needed to help her.” She was lucky to have been saved by Colby and she deserved a shot at a good life. She was a fighter and she showed us immediately that she was grateful. The least we could do was try to give her the love she deserved.
After the surgical consult we received grim news, as we expected. She had an obvious dislocation of the left joint in the pelvis, her right hip was in multiple pieces, and her tail would never function again due to the fractures. She would need a double FHO (double hip surgery) and a tail amputation. When the veterinarian checked for function in these places to see if there was a shot at her living a normal life again, there was still a sign of function. It showed there was possibility.
Without much doubt at all, we said “of course” to her reconstructive surgery. She went in for surgery on October 16.
Her surgery went as well as we could have hoped. On a healthy dose of pain meds, she is pulling herself around a little more than she was before, is constantly purring, and says “thank you” to her foster mom as best as she can every chance she gets. She will go in for a recheck next week and we are anticipating 8-10 weeks of healing time to get her back on her feet.
So now, thanks to a late night emergency phone call an hour before my birthday, I have entered my 32nd year of life knowing what I’m doing is truly what I was intended to do. I know I’m living that quote to its fullest each time Ruff Start Rescue says they’ll do whatever it takes for one of these hard cases. I’ve created a place that can give animals like Colby—named for the sweet volunteer who gave up his entire evening to save her life—a chance at health and happiness. But we can’t do it without you.
Colby’s emergency vet bills were $563. Her surgery bill came in at $2,076. Once she is healthy enough, we’ll need to get her altered and vaccinated per our protocols—which is an additional few hundred dollars or so. If you want to put a dollar amount on what we will end up spending to save Colby and give her the life she deserves, she will cost the rescue nearly $3,000—provided she heals perfectly, which is our hope but not a given.
When I was 16, the thought of paying $3,000 for one animal’s care was astronomical and far-fetched. Now, while still very challenging, it’s more like a lesson in perspective and gratitude. Now I have access to a multitude of people who also want to be the person who says they’ll do whatever it takes to help. I now have the ability to pool the things they’re so heartwarmingly willing to donate—things like money, time, and talents—so we CAN save these animals instead of just hoping someone else will.