A Lawrence pet owner is facing felony animal cruelty charges after he allegedly tied his kitten by the neck to a wall next to his home’s radiator.
The alleged abuse began in early January when the 7-month old kitten swallowed a string, MSPCA Angell spokesman Rob Halpin said.
“We get that kind of case here all the time, where an animal comes in having swallowed a piece of string,” Halpin said in a phone interview. “It can be extremely dangerous or not dangerous at all, depending on if it’s addressed immediately.”
After an animal swallows a string, it can either be dragged from its mouth, or the animal can undergo a minor surgical procedure to remove it, Halpin said. In the Lawrence case, the pet owner chose neither option. Authorities did not immediately name the owner.
The string was left in the kitten’s body for weeks, allowing it to travel down into, wrap around, and puncture its intestines. That allowed fluids and matter from the intestines to spill into the animal’s body, Halpin said.
The kitten’s infection caused it to vomit constantly, prompting the owner to tie a shoelace around its neck and tack the string to the wall next to a radiator in order to keep the vomit spills contained, Halpin said.
Unable to move, the kitten became dangerously dehydrated and thin due to the heat from the radiator and the persistent vomiting.
When Lawrence animal control officers arrived Jan. 24, the kitten was dying. It was taken to emergency surgery at MSPCA Angell, where it had almost half its intestines surgically removed.
“When he arrived, he had about a 30 percent chance of surviving,” Halpin said. “Our veterinary surgeons put his intestines back together in a way that would give him the best chance of recovery, but a lot of his intestine couldn’t be saved.”
The kitten survived surgery and is currently being cared for at the MSPCA Animal Care and Adoption Center at Nevins Farm. It will be put up for adoption after it recovers.
“In terms of animal cruelty, I’m sad to say it’s not one of the worst cases that we’ve seen,” Halpin said. “But it says a lot about the owner as a person.”Catalina Gaitan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @catalina_gaitan.