"Family devastated after their beloved cat tortured, left to die
Carrie Hawkes and her son, Devon, can't fathom it.
And yet Tuesday morning, when they saw the face looking back at them in the window of their Old Pine Trail townhome in north St. Catharines, they were forced to. It was their 10-year-old Maine Coon cat, Bailey. But the giant fluffball Carrie let out the night before was barely recognizable.
"Devon kept saying, 'It's not him, it's not him,' " Hawkes said.
She knew it was, though, despite the fact Bailey was soaking wet, and the tawny fur on his face and his long whiskers were missing. Devon, 15, grabbed a towel and went outside to scoop up Bailey.
That's when they started to piece together their pet's horrific ordeal.
"I thought he was freezing because he was soaking wet," Hawkes said. "Then we picked him up and I realized he was soaked in gasoline."
Bailey had been set on fire. His teeth and claws had been smashed. He had cuts on his brow. His ears were singed and what was left of them was "rock hard."
"He was gasping and gasping," Hawkes said.
Hawkes and Devon rushed Bailey to the vet, trying to reassure Bailey, their pet since he was a newborn kitten, and themselves that everything would be OK.
Bailey died en route.
"He was just so hurt. It took everything for him to get back (home)," Hawkes said.
"He took his last bit of energy to get here," Devon added.
The Lincoln County Humane Society is investigating.
Executive director Kevin Strooband said the animal was being sent to Guelph for a post-mortem to determine the extent of injuries and cause of death.
"Any animal who's caused discomfort by someone or something, if it can get away, it will. But if it can't...," Strooband said. "When you sit down and think, 'What did that cat go through,' it pulls at your heartstrings. How can it not?"
On Tuesday afternoon, the Hawkes family was trying to figure out how their companion, normally wary of other people, could have been victim to cruelty.
Hawkes had let Bailey out the night before. "He never goes far," she said.
He had his usual haunts. The wall behind their townhouse. Under Hawkes's car. In the family's enclosed backyard.
Before bed, Hawkes checked to see if he wanted in, given it was getting cold. But there was no sign of Bailey.
She woke at 1:30 a. m. to look again and saw no paw prints in the snow.
Later that morning, when she got up for work at a Welland medical clinic, there was still no indication the big cat had been by.
Hawkes called and called his name. But Bailey, who usually responded, still didn't turn up.
As she get ready for work, she heard a disturbing sound and came rushing downstairs where she found Bailey in a window well.
"I could hear this godawful scream. It was like a baby crying," Hawkes said.
Given how skittish Bailey was with other people, Devon said he can't help but think someone had to chase and trap Bailey.
On Tuesday afternoon, he could still smell gas outside in the parking lot, making him think it happened close to home.
"I have friends who are angry about this. They're saying, 'Who could do this?' " Devon said. "That cat's been through thick and thin with us. You would have to bear-hug him to hold him. He wouldn't hurt a fly. He was so gentle."
As she wiped her tears, Hawkes said they've lost a member of the family.
"To know that there's someone out there so twisted to do that to an animal. To have him go through that, I can't fathom," she said.
"That's the hardest thing, that he suffered like that."
This happened just a few towns over from where I'm currently living, and only a 20 minute drive from where I grew up.
As someone who owns a rescue animal - a cat that was abused(his poor tail was snapped right in half) and left to starve in the bitter Ottawa winter - I can't even think of what kind of mental disorder someone would have to have to hurt an animal. But I do know that animal abuse and killings have been linked to other far more severe psychosis. Infamous serial killers such as Dennis Radar, the BTK, have confessed that they started out with ritualistic animal abuse and killing in their neighbourhoods as children. I'm so sad for this animal, but I can't help but be afraid for the person(s) next victim - this type of crime is rarely an isolated incident.
Poor, Poor Bailey.