As rescuers, many of us think we’ve seen it all. The horrors, the heartache, the wins and the losses become part of a daily life that I think all of us wish we could sometimes leave behind even for a short while. But, just when we thought we had seen everything, MAIN volunteers turned the corner at a “Not For Public” room at the west valley shelter and met Catalina. Her frail and emaciated body just lay there on an old blanket as she fought just to simply stay alive for another moment. We immediately called everyone we could think of to foster this shell of a dog and set an appointment with Bethany Animal Hospital.
It wasn’t until we were slowly walking her down one of the corridors that a volunteer stopped us, and began to relay a story that left everyone who listened sobbing. “Are you taking her?” She asked, with tears forming in her eyes. “I know what she’s been through if you’d like me to tell you.” We all nodded and stopped to listen. “She was a beautiful girl not too long ago. Her family was having problems, and the wife left one night. In retaliation, the husband shut this dog in the backyard with no food and took weekly photos to send to his wife with notes like ‘You can save her by coming home.’ As the days and weeks went by, this poor thing just got weaker and weaker and when she couldn’t stand for the photos anymore, he dropped her off at the shelter saying that he had just found her by the roadside.”
Catalina’s eyes have been blinded by starvation. She can muster a few steps and then has to be carried. She is fighting just to stay alive at this very moment and her lifeline, our wonderful foster Cari, has made a bed next to Catalina’s for the night so if she wakes, Cari will be there to hold her and tell her she’s a good girl. And she is a good girl. She never caused any of this. She didn’t understand what was happening to her family and she didn’t know why she couldn’t come inside anymore to eat out of her bowl and sleep in her bed. She must have spent hours, days, weeks wondering what she had done that was so wrong. And after all of this torture and after all of neglect, after all of the nights she spent literally starving to death with no food in sight, she got the most comfort this afternoon by being held and rubbed and told she was going to be ok.
On our way out to the car, we had to pass a public area where dog owners come with their dogs for vaccinations. As we opened the door, and as Catalina stepped into this area, we heard gasps and saw people turn away and begin to cry at the sight of her. “We’re so sorry”, is all any of us could think to say. We’re sorry that any of you have to witness this, too. To stare at this cruelty, as we ask you once again for your help. But you are our lifeline as we are hers. Still, we are truly sorry.
On the ride home, she lay on Don’s lap – pressed as tightly as she could get to him, like she just wanted to feel someone. Anyone. And she didn’t want it to end.
We know that many of you (us included) want confirmation that her owners are brought up on charges for the cruelty they’ve inflicted on this poor girl. But, we’ll tell you what the shelter tells everyone that asks about situations like this. No one knows. M.A.I.N. is here to pick up the pieces and desperately try to restore health into this poor soul. We won’t spend any time following her family’s court appearances and convictions and we won’t report it if we hear. We are here for Catalina and that’s enough right now.
We know that you’re here for her, too – and for that, we humbly thank you. None of this could ever happen without your support, and we will continue to update all of you on her progress. In the meantime, any donation you can muster is a blessing. Thank you all so very very much.
Update from M.A.I.N. May 15th: On April 10th, M.A.I.N. reported the story of Catalina and her rescue from the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control west valley facility. In this report, one of our volunteers wrote an accurate account of how we found her, her condition and the process to get her out. This report also detailed a story that was shared by a volunteer at the facility, and gave a background to Catalina’s condition.
Yesterday afternoon, 38-year-old Luis Moreno was taken into custody by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for this crime and as it turns out, Catalina was not the victim. We believe this was a case of mistaken identity by the volunteer at MCACC, and with the sheer number of dogs that come in, their resemblance to each other in breed and condition, and the timing – we can certainly understand the confusion. We only wish that we could have helped Wiggles the same way we’ve tried so hard to help Catalina.
Whatever brought Catalina to a similar condition was obviously a nightmare, and we will continue to keep everyone updated on her recovery, but the how’s and why’s of how she was brought to this horrific condition will – for now at least – remain a mystery.
Update from M.A.I.N. April 10th: Thank you everyone for the outpouring of support for Catalina. We appreciate the messages, emails, shares, prayers and donations! Catalina is currently undergoing a blood transfusion at our vet. We won’t have the full bloodwork results back today, but we suspect she also has Tick Fever and/or Valley fever. She is completely blind, likely from uveitis. She’s in good hands with our vet and has an amazing foster mom to get her through this.
May 19th: It is with heartfelt sorrow that we must report the passing of Catalina, lovingly known as Ms Catniss. Catalina was a trooper and was recovering from two serious diseases, made more insurmountable by her emaciated condition. Her wonderful foster mom Cari has written some amazingly heartfelt words in her honor that we wanted to share with you all who, we know, feel her loss as acutely as we do:
“A spirit like Miss Catniss just can’t be contained – her high standards for food fare, her stubbornness while walking outside, her indomitable will for life, her insistence on constant affection…all of it!
And so it is that her earthly body, as broken down as it was, couldn’t contain her spirit anymore. Miss Catniss went to run with the wind, the sun on her face and seeing every detail of the Rainbow Bridge this afternoon. She was surrounded by the love and support missing from her life for so long and that she got back in spades from so many people around the world.
And maybe that’s why she felt safe enough to leave now. Maybe. We don’t get to know the why for these things. We get to find the pieces of our hearts scattered all over the face of hope. And we got the pleasure of knowing this bigger-than-life girl. And we get the reassurance her body is not holding her back anymore.
Tonight, her family will be enjoying her favorites – grilled ribeye, steamed mashed carrots, and scrambled eggs while basking in the desert sun. We will look up at the end of the night, enjoying the stars she liked to walk under. And we will do this in honor of the incomparable Miss Catniss tonight.
And then we will return to the work of saving the next animal tomorrow. Because, for all of her spirit and attitude, perhaps her greatest accomplishment was the spotlight she was able to shine on abused animals. And we would be remiss in not honoring that in her memory. She did not endure for this long in vain!
Goodnight Miss Catniss, and Godspeed on the next leg of your journey. You ARE loved and you WILL be missed.”
Medical Notes: Catalina’s condition unexpectedly worsened and she was rushed to the Emergency Animal Clinic this weekend as she started having seizures. She spent the night at the Emergency Animal Clinic where she was stabilized, and then was transported to the home of Dr. Katie of Bethany Animal Hospital, along with her foster mom, where she received expert care. Catalina was brought to Bethany Animal Hospital this morning so that she could receive continuous care. Sadly, she never fully recovered, and it is suspected that the seizures were the result of a brain bleed. She had put up such a gallant fight and was constantly surrounded by love in her last weeks. Such a brave, loving girl, and always happy for each and every new friend that came to see her. For her foster mom, our hearts go out to Cari, and all of us are so thankful she had her as her earth angel to shepherd her thru the end of her journey. For her many friends and supporters, thank you so much for all your care, love, and healing prayers. Catalina you will be properly missed! One suggestion shared as a way to honor her – see her SEEing and running like the wind! The Rainbow Bridge got another angel today.
Update May 10th: Catalina is likely going to lose both eyes, however she’s far from a surgical candidate at this point. So we will keep her eyes comfortable until she’s much healthier for surgery. They bother us more than they bother her. She’s a trooper. Foster mom reports she had a very good day today – ate well and had some pep in her step. We were so happy to hear that!
Medical Update May 9th: M.A.I.N.’s vet sent out more bloodwork today as Catalina’s PCV is not rising like we are hoping it would. Her protein levels are also high. Depending on what the labs show in the am, they have a universal donor on standby to donate blood so she can receive another transfusion. She also has a front toe that got huge all of a sudden and was draining. X-ray shows it’s a lesion. She has another on her opposite leg near the “wrist.”
April 25th: Here’s a little video clip of Catalina at her vet visit. Look how alert she is!
Update from Catalina’s foster mom, April 20th: Miss Catniss, resting on a donated blanket after Easter dinner and some fluids. Poor girl is fighting both tick and valley fever – today she’s resting her aching bones while listening to more Facebook good wishes from around the world!
April 16th: Catalina was on the news! Check out her news clip by clicking here.
Medical Update, April 15th from the vet: Catalina is positive (maxed titer- > 1:2560) for tick fever. Her anemia is regenerative so she still has functional bone marrow kicking out new cells. She’s still going to be weak for a while while she builds up her resources again, and her cocci is still pending, but so far nothing horrible awful is showing up!
Update from Catalina’s foster, April 13th: Catalina was pretty adamant about wanting to cruise the house yesterday. She is now perking up and interested whenever I bring food of any kind in her room. She’s finally started eating just a little bigger portions and wanting it more frequently – so relieved for that! However, the Queen is still not interested in eating from a bowl – she prefers being hand fed. 😉 Her loss of sight was probably due to other health issues, and made worse by starvation, rather than being caused by it. We’re still waiting on test results to know for sure. In the meantime, she’s getting steroid drops in the hopes some level of vision will return. Catalina would prefer our thoughts and energy focus on her, the Queen. She IS the center of the universe, right??
From Catalina’s foster, April 11: She feels so much better after her blood transfusion! We came home with some eyedrops, antibiotics and instructions to feed her whatever she will eat! She gained a whopping 0.3 pounds and is now having solid stools. We are moving towards “cautiously hopeful,” but her eyesight restoration is unknown at this time. We are awaiting the results of the Valley Fever and Tick Fever tests-we’ll know more then.
From Catalina’s foster, April 10th: This poor baby alternates between varying levels of alertness and almost catatonic when she drools. At this point, I’m keeping my hand on her to make sure she’s still breathing, more than anything! Good news is she is drinking, eating, and getting some good, deep sleep.
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