Archived Story

Do your part to help out strays

Published 12:00pm Thursday, August 15, 2013

I was exiting Winn Dixie Sunday night when I heard that pitiful sound echoing across the parking lot.
There was a kitten afoot, and it sounded scared and sad.
I quickly located the source – a tiny orange tabby was perched by the retaining wall near McDonald’s.
“Hold on – I’m going to check on him,” I told my boyfriend, who patiently took the groceries to the car.
I wasn’t expecting much. Normally when I have attempted to approach a cat outdoors, it darts away, wary of any and all humans.
This kitten was different.
I approached slowly, and he looked at me quizzically and kept meowing. I squatted down about three feet from him and held out my hand.
He initially stayed away – mostly distracted because he was busy chasing cockroaches around the parking lot – but within five minutes allowed me to pick him up.
His orange fur was a little dirty, and he was covered in ants and had a few fleas – but in general he seemed healthy and friendly.
I wiped off the ants as best I could and then carried him to the car. Lake Martin Animal Shelter was closed, so of course the kitten would be heading home with me for the night.
I didn’t have a carrier in the car, but the kitten curled up in my lap and let me pet his belly the whole ride home. He seemed unafraid – just curious about his surroundings, fascinated by the cars and streetlights as we rode by.
I had a can of cat food at my house, which the kitten practically inhaled. As he chowed down, he meowed and grunted, which led me to calling him Piglet.
I set Piglet up in the spare bathroom – water, a litter box, the can of food and a towel on which to sleep.
The night passed without incident, and I took him to the shelter before heading to work the next day.
I’ll admit I sat in the car at the shelter, petting and playing with Piglet for a few extra minutes before handing him over to shelter manager Mia Chandler.
Mia said she suspected the kitten had been “dumped” somewhere in the area, simply because he seemed so used to humans. Most likely, little Piglet had been migrating between Winn Dixie and McDonald’s, foraging for scraps.
Mia added that many people will dump animals at the front door of the shelter at night, even though there is no “drop” area for animals after hours. Thus the animals wander in the night and end up in the woods, on Hwy. 280 or worse.
A pet is a huge commitment, and I understand if someone is not willing to take in an animal – but there is no reason an animal can’t be surrendered during Lake Martin Animal Shelter’s business hours.
Furthermore, if you happen to see an animal wandering around, don’t assume someone else will “take care of it” – the least any of us can do is to call the local animal control.
It doesn’t take much effort to show a little care to animals that cannot always care for themselves.
As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
I’d like to commend the animal shelter employees, volunteers and supporters for doing what they can to help find happy homes for our area’s animals.
They’ve certainly changed the world for all of those animals that have been placed with good, loving owners.
I’d also like to take time to make a shameless plug for Piglet. If you’re in the market for a loving, adorable tabby cat, stop by the shelter and meet him for yourself.
I promise if you decide to make him your “forever” pet – or any of the other cats or dogs available at the shelter – you won’t regret it.
Spears is general manager for The Outlook.