FARMINGTON HILLS — Greencastle subdivision resident Melanie Williams has a message for whoever left a deathly ill kitten near her doorstep: Shame on you.
Williams and her husband, Justin, were greeted with an unpleasant surprise the morning of July 7 after Justin — heading out for work around 6 a.m. — noticed the small black animal right at the front doorstep of their home on Greenmeadow Circle, near Middlebelt Road.
“It lifted its head and meowed at him,” Melanie Williams said at her home July 26, adding that her husband rushed inside the house and told her that day that he would run the male kitten — a gray domestic shorthair with black stripes — up to a nearby veterinarian hospital, BluePearl Veterinary Partners-Southfield. “At that time in the morning, nowhere else is really open except an emergency vet.”
Found near the roughly 2-month-old kitten were 90 cents in loose change, a portable litter box, a bag and three cans of cat food — one can was partially opened.
The drenched kitten, which was diagnosed by the veterinarian as having respiratory problems — on top of hypothermia from being left out in the rain — died. It could not be stabilized.
The couple attempted to warm the kitten up with blankets and a couple of pillows while en route to the veterinarian.
The clinic gave the kitten fluids, pain medication and a warming blanket, but they couldn’t save him.
“(The veterinarian) concluded that he would not make it, (and) we had to make the decision to put him down (and) euthanize the kitten,” Melanie Williams said. “Being pet owners ourselves, you don’t want to leave it alone so it could pass away. This animal that suddenly came into your care and you’re almost taking the responsibility of being the owner — it breaks your heart.”
The kitten was in the veterinarian’s care for about an hour and a half before the Williams had to make the difficult choice of allowing it to be put to sleep. The kitten had a heart rate of 30 beats per minute; a healthy kitten’s heart rate would have been about 180 beats per minute.
“The cat was in poor health to begin with,” Melanie Williams said, surmising that that is probably why someone left it. “I was glad that we were able to give it some care, compassion and love in its final couple hours.”
Williams said that the situation left her “unsettled,” and she felt like a target, potentially, because whoever dropped the kitten off did so right outside the perimeter of their front porch floodlights — had the lights gone on, their pit bull would have been alerted, and the lights would have shone in their home and woken up the couple.
“We just hope that people don’t think they can get away with animal cruelty,” she said. The items left with the kitten were lifted for fingerprints, and it will take some time before the fingerprints might be matched.
Williams said that, luckily, her husband is friends with a Farmington Hills Police Department detective who is investigating the case and said that it could take eight to 12 weeks before the fingerprints come back with a possible match.
Detective Chad Double told C & G Newspapers that the Police Department’s policy is that if someone finds an animal, the FHPD will take it to a temporary holding facility for cats and dogs.
“We’ve had other kinds of animals here — we hold on to them in case somebody contacts us and says they lost their dog,” Double said, adding that if an animal is abandoned, the police contact Oakland County Animal Control. “They have more long-term housing for the animals.”
Double added that the Police Department “definitely would proceed” if it obtains information on who might have abandoned an animal, especially that kitten.
Double said that if the fingerprints are a match with someone already in the system, the responsible person could be charged with animal neglect/cruelty.
“We would send it (fingerprint information) off to the (Oakland County) Prosecutor’s Office, and they determine what charges they will approve, and we will charge them for that crime,” Double said, adding that a neglect case for the kitten would likely fall under a misdemeanor.
Double said that abandoned animals are not common in the city; finding animals roaming freely because they got out is more common.
“Hopefully, we … get some kind of charges,” Double said.
Gatt, manager of the Auburn Hills-based Oakland County Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption Center, said the Michigan penal code states that it is unlawful to abandon an animal or cause an animal to be abandoned in any place without making provisions for the animal’s adequate care.
“There is an exception: if the premises (of a home) are vacated for the protection of human life with the prevention of injury to a human,” Gatt said, adding that in most cases it is against the law to abandon an animal in Michigan.
He added that he thinks it is “terrible” for someone to abandon animals, and most cities have an ordinance on abandonment.
He added that the county doesn’t see many cases of abandonment.
Williams said that if the kitten had survived, she and her husband would have given it to some friends, who would have taken care of it.
“Even if the cat had a respiratory issue, maybe that is something it could have survived,” she said. “Had they at least put it under covering (on the front porch) and (not) get hypothermia from being out in the rain all night, it would have had a chance.”
For more information, go to www.oakgov.com/petadoption.