Monday, December 3, 2007

Some Closure

About 15 months ago, our beloved cat Waffles was attacked by a dog. Waffles was really THE best cat in the world. He was extremely loving and had a great purr. Often he would start purring as soon as we looked at him. He was also a great traveler and would often accompany us on car trips and even flew to Boston with us one Christmas (and had a great time in the snow). Even though he was a cat, Waffles was a little clumsy. He liked to climb the narrow plank above the blinds in front of our sliding glass door. The time he slipped and was stuck, dangling by his claws as I struggled to help him down, was his last attempt.

Waffles was attacked in our apartment complex by a chow/golden retriever mix, almost like a small, cinnamon-colored bear. Waffles was about 14 months and he loved exploring outside. Our neighbors would always find him chasing butterflies. Even outside he would purr as soon as he saw us pull into the driveway. I was on business travel when he was attacked. I remember the morning before, as I was getting ready to leave for my trip, Waffles went to the door and stretched himself, reaching for the door knob. I gave him one last pet and let him go out for his daily adventure.

The dog attacked Waffles at the innermost corner of our apartment complex. Our landlady heard the attack and she called the dog off. Waffles had very little obvious injuries. He only had a few puncture marks near his neck and his lower jaw was fractured. However, he fell into a coma. During the attack, the dog had him in his mouth and shook him like a toy (a characteristic of chows). In an attempt to help figure out what was wrong with him, we drove him to the UC Davis veterinary hospital (one of the best in the nation). An MRI showed that the trauma to his brain was extensive and the neurologist recommended that we put him to rest. It still hurts to remember after all these months.

While our landlady had witnessed the attack and the police knew which dog it had been (this dog had been involved in previous incidents), there are no lineups for dogs. The only way something could have been done was if a policeman had witnessed the incident or the dog had been caught.

On Sunday afternoon I was in the kitchen when I heard a dog bark. I went into the backyard to figure out where the barking was coming from, when I heard more barking and I heard a cat growl. I hoisted myself onto our back fence (we have an empty lot behind our apartment) and I saw the same dog attacking our neighbors Siamese cat, Seymour. Seymour was on the ground, I could see blood on his inner thigh, and the dog was trying to bite him. I started screaming and the dog hesitated and started running away. I remembered what the cops had said about the dog having to be caught. So I started calling after the dog in a soft, friendly voice (I am amazed that I was able to do that despite my anger). I jumped the fence, scraping my wrists pretty bad and losing my slippers on the way over, and chased after the dog.

The dog didn't run very fast and he kept looking back at me to see if I was following. He ran across the major street and started running down his block (we know where the dog lives). I panicked and sprinted ahead to cut him off; I didn't want him to get to his house and seek refuge. When the dog got to me, he stopped and sat down. At that time, I yelled at a man leaving his house to call the police. He did. I stood there, in the middle of the street, looking at the dog. I started feeling bad because I knew that it was really the owners fault, not the dogs. Sure, the dog had attacked, but the owners had allowed their dog to get out (often) and for the dog, attacking a cat was just a game to him. Actually, I think the dog is a girl. But, as she stood there, panting and looking perfectly harmless, I could also see the blood on her muzzle. If the dog was euthanized, at least she would have a less painful end than Waffles.

We waited about 5 minutes when the dog's owners pulled out of the driveway about 4 houses down. They yelled for the dog and the dog got up and started running in the opposite direction. I ran after him. The owners asked that I help them catch their dog. I chased the dog back across the busy street and down a side street. At that time, the owners caught up with us and a 16 year old kid brought the leash. I told the kid the dog had been involved in a cat attack and that we were going to wait for the police. I grabbed the leash and walked back towards our apartment complex with the dog. The police arrived soon after that.

Seymour is most likely going to be ok. His injuries are to his back leg and there is mostly only soft tissue damage. The dog was handed back to the owners on the condition that they surrender her tomorrow. Otherwise, the police department said they would build a case against the family. Supposedly. I am amazed that the dog was not taken by animal control. Perhaps if the dog had attacked me the police would have taken the incident more seriously. Perhaps if something had been done after the first incident (I don't know the details), Waffles would still be alive. Perhaps if something had been done after Waffles was attacked, Seymour would be ok.

I am still sad that Waffles was taken from us so horribly and so soon. He really was the best cat. He was the cat I dreamed our kids would get to meet. But we were lucky because we appreciated him every day we had him. My husband and I would always comment on what a wonderful cat he was. I am glad that he was in our lives, even if it was for a short time.


Sumana Harihareswara said...

Thank you for telling us this story, Claudia. I'm glad you had the time with Waffles that you did, and that you could help with the disciplining of Waffles's attacker.

Cleaty said...

The disciplining of Waffle's attackers is definitely emotionally confusing for me. I wish we could discipline the dog's owners more severely (than just a $25 fine for having the dog off leash). I love animals and I don't want to see any animal suffer. Almost 100% of the time it is the owners and not the dogs.

Kelly said...

You are a hero Claudia! Wow, look at you go. The pictures of Waffles in the snow are so precious. :)

Lint said...

Waffles was a wonderful, beautiful, and irresistably friendly cat, and I'm really sorry you had to lose him so young and horribly like that.

Pablo said...

Sorry it took me so long to write here, but I'm away on business and internet access has been hard to find. You did great, and it really sucks that the owners didn't get any other punishment. Waffles was an awesome cat. It must be hard to revive those tough moments. Hope you are feeling better.