Vet school helps cat burned by owners
‘Phoenix’ came to MU from KC.
Photo by Gerik Parmele
The University of Missouri’s veterinary hospital is taking care of Phoenix, a cat whose owners set it on fire more than a week ago.
By Janese Heavin
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
A 1-year-old cat set on fire by her young owners with lighter fluid is recovering at the University of Missouri’s Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.
Photo by Gerik Parmele
The University of Missouri’s veterinary hospital is taking care of Phoenix, a cat whose owners set it on fire more than a week ago. With Phoenix are vet school student Christine Murphy, left, and veterinary medicine intern Kara Osterbur.
The cat was taken to Columbia on Saturday after two Kansas City brothers, ages 9 and 12, set fire to her and a family dog last week. The dog died, but the cat survived and ran away. She returned to the home a few days later, and the family alerted animal control officials, said Wayne Steckelberg, a veterinarian at the Half Way Home Pet Adoptions shelter in Kansas City, which initially treated her.
Parents of the children, who declined to give their names or show their faces, told Fox 4 News in Kansas City that the boys have mental disabilities.
Each of the boys faces two counts of juvenile charges for animal cruelty, and the 12-year-old also faces a charge of arson, said Bill Jackson of the Jackson County Juvenile Justice Center.
The cat, Phoenix, doesn’t appear to be holding any grudges, though.
“It’s amazing, that cat,” Steckelberg said. “It was purring. I think if it were me, I wouldn’t be purring.”
Phoenix — named by those at the shelter after a mythological bird that rose from the ashes — has second-degree burns on the tips of her ears, back left leg, whiskers, tail and anal area.
“She was pretty sad-looking,” said Kara Osterbur, an intern at the MU School of Veterinary Medicine clinic.
Students and faculty at the veterinary school sedated her, cleaned her wounds and bandaged her, Osterbur said.
After she heals a little more, she’ll head back to the animal shelter in Kansas City.
If she’s not snatched up by a new owner there, several veterinary students have said they’d be interested in adopting her, Osterbur said.
She and Steckelberg said it’s not rare to see abused animals, but neither had ever seen a pet intentionally set on fire.
“We see a lot of animals come in badly abused,” Osterbur said. “It’s extremely sad, but we’re lucky to get to help them and provide them with care and make them feel better.”
Reach Janese Heavin at 573-815-1705 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.