Tied in Bag, Left for Dead

Five kittens were found tied in a bag on Gee Road last week. Nearly dead, the kittens are recovering in the town of Sullivan.

By Martha E. Conway

(Town of Sullivan, NYKittens Left for Dead (2) – April 25, 2013) Five kittens tied in a bag and left for dead will get a new lease on life, thanks to a woman out for a walk. As of press time, the litter, believed to be about six weeks old, was recovering under the watchful eye of Sullivan Animal Control Officer Kim Muehlenbein.

Muehlenbein, a 28-year veteran in the field of animal control, said this was a new one on her.

“I’m still surprised,” Muehlenbein said. “I’m still often surprised by what people do.”

A woman out for a walk along Gee Road in the town of Sullivan called 9-1-1 when she saw an orange Kinney Drug Store bag moving in the field about 15 feet from the road. State police Inv. Dennis Dougherty responded to the scene and made the discovery.

He then notified Muehlenbein.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Muehlenbein said. “The bag was tied shut.”

She said the kittens were breathing, but lying on their sides and unable to support their heads; she said she scooped them up and raced to Chittenango Animal Hospital, where staff helped clean the kittens and performed medical evaluations.

According to Muehlenbein, the litter was soaked in their own urine and feces, dehydrated, suffocating from the lack of oxygen and toxic levels of ammonia in the bag, starving and suffering from exposure. She said being soaking wet – particularly in toxic waste – only accelerated the rate of likely fatal impact from exposure in the chilly night air once the sun went completely down Thursday night.

“Their body temperatures were so low, they didn’t even register on thermometers when we first brought them in,” Muehlenbein said. “Another hour, they would have been dead.”

But after about six hours of being cleaned, warmed and fed dextrose drops, the litter was stable enough to be sent home with Muehlenbein to recover.

“The [Wanderers’ Rest Humane Association] shelter was closed, and they are going to need round-the-clock care for a while,” Muehlenbein said.

About 24 hours after being rescued, all five kittens were able to hold their heads up, and one was exhibiting signs of playfulness, Muehlenbein said.

“After 36 hours, all of them were responding well, taking nourishment and moving around quite actively,” Muehlenbein said.

She said state law requires animal shelters to foster kittens until they are old enough to be spayed and neutered before adoption into permanent homes.

“I’m a fan of the spay/neuter law because it helps cut down on the unwanted pet population,” Muehlenbein said.

“They are not afraid of people or my dogs,” Muehlenbein said of the kittens’ readjustment to their environment. “They are responding well to being held and petted.”

She said the kittens are taking tiny meals every few hours; cleaning went on for days.

“They are starting to move around now and play,” Muehlenbein said at about 4 p.m. Friday.

Later this week, Muehlenbein said the kittens will be turned over to Kirkville Animal Rescue and Education, Inc., to complete their rehabilitation until they are old enough to be adopted.

“I typically get two to three litters a year from Gee Road, but this is the first time I’ve ever encountered animals tied in a bag anywhere,” Muehlenbein said. “Even after nearly 30 years on the job, people surprise me all the time. You have to keep your emotions in check until the crisis is past because you can’t be emotional around the animals. It doesn’t help them. Later, you can call another ACO to cry or vent. You have to bottle up your feelings and deal with them later.”

Rescued, scared and injured animals already are stressed, Muehlenbein said, and need to be treated with a calm, quiet demeanor.

“And you really have to withhold your emotions when dealing with people,” she said. “And remember to put faith in the system that you will get the chance to face them in court.”

For more information on adopting these animals, contact Kirkville Animal Rescue and Education at info@kareinc.org or 315.247.8276; for more information on the town of Sullivan Animal Control Office, call 315.687.7308 or email kmuehlenbein@townofsullivan.org.

Anyone with information on who may have dumped the kittens on Gee Road around Thursday, April 25, is asked to contact Inv. Dennis Dougherty of the State Police at 315.366.6000.

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