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Kittens barely escape certain death: Companions Animal Center now caring for abandoned felines

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | August 30, 2022 1:09 AM

Sick kittens were illegally abandoned at Companions Animal Center the night of Tuesday, Aug. 23.

Around 9 p.m., a dark-colored, four-door pickup truck pulled into the parking lot of the shelter (formerly named Kootenai Humane Society) at 11650 N. Ramsey Road in Hayden and dumped a plastic container with holes busted into a top that was not secure. Four sick kittens were inside.

"A perfect scenario for a hungry wild animal," Development Director Vicky Nelson told The Press. "It’s open field. We have all types of animals out here. For them to put out a plastic container, with those cracks in it, an animal that’s hungry could have knocked that over and the four kittens could have been gone."

The kittens, suffering from upper-respiratory issues, are now in the care of the shelter.

"By the time staff arrived around 7:15 a.m., someone had called Coeur d'Alene Animal Control to report kittens being left at the shelter," Nelson said. "Not sure how anyone would have known that unless they put them there."

The kittens were left a mere 20 feet from a sign informing people that abandoning animals violates Idaho Statute 25-3504 — committing cruelty to animals. According to this law, first violations are punishable by up to six months in jail or fines of $100 to $5,000, or both. Fines and jail time increase with each offense.

"It truly is amazing how often this happens," Nelson said. "All they have to do is call us and say, 'I found a litter of kittens.' We'll have them bring them in...If they're under 4 months there’s no charge. We’ll make sure they're well taken care of and we'll get them fixed."

Many abandoned and injured kittens have been taken in by the no-kill, nonprofit shelter this summer.

On Aug. 20, a crate of kittens was discovered on the side of Interstate 90, rescued by two travelers who were on their way back from St. Maries and just happened to stop to investigate.

"Apparently, they saw the boxes moving and brought them in," Nelson said.

Kristina Jensen, who works at the shelter's front desk, was on shift when the kittens were brought in.

"I looked in there; they were so fuzzy and cute," she said. "We took them out to move them to another kennel and there was newspaper and birdseed in there with them."

She said she is amazed by the people who go out of their way to help abandoned animals.

"There are a lot of people who don't stop. They just let them go and let them be," Jensen said, adding that the people who brought the kittens in from the side of the freeway saved their lives.

"It was a really warm day the day they came in," she said. "They definitely needed some water and stuff.”

The freeway kittens have already been adopted, Nelson said.

On Saturday, a five-week-old brown male tabby kitten with infections and injuries to his face was brought to the shelter after he was found on Government Way in north Hayden.

"The person who found it said a feral cat had kittens," Companions Animal Center administrative manager Chris McDowell said Monday. "We don't know what happened to this one. He has severe injuries to his face. He has a puncture wound under his left eye, his top teeth are missing, his mouth has injuries. A tooth fell out while we were first holding him."

Eli, as named by shelter staff, was taken to an emergency pet clinic where he was given medication and fed through a tube. It is speculated he was attacked by a small animal.

"This little kitten, if he didn't receive treatment, he wouldn’t have survived. The infection would have overcome his little body," McDowell said. "We’re just grateful someone brought the little kitten in so we can give him the care he needs."

McDowell said the kitten has a long road ahead and will be under care at Companions Animal Center at least two months before he is available for adoption.

"We have a hopeful outlook for him. We can tell he wants to make it. He’s a little fighter," she said. "We feel secure he’s going to make it and be adopted."

If anyone has information about the person who abandoned the kittens at the shelter, they can contact Kootenai County Sheriff's Office Animal Control at 208-446-1300.

The shelter conducts adoptions by appointment only. Visit companionsanimalcenter.org or call 208-772-4019 for information.

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Courtesy photo

Five kittens were found in a crate on the side of Interstate 90 on Aug. 20 and brought to Companions Animal Center by two travelers coming to town from St. Maries.

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Courtesy photo

This 5-week-old male tabby kitten was brought to Companions Animal Center on Monday with infections and injuries to his face. Shelter staff say he was attacked by a small animal. He is expected to survive.

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Courtesy photo

This sign at Companions Animal Center (formerly Kootenai Humane Society) reminds people it is illegal to dump animals in Idaho.

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Courtesy photo

Companions Animal Center security footage from the night of Aug. 23 shows the driver of a dark-colored, four-door truck fleeing after abandoning kittens at the shelter. Anyone with information should contact Kootenai County Sheriff's Office Animal Control at 208-446-1300 or call the shelter at 208-772-4019.

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