CANADA – Julie Lebel simply does not consider herself a hero, but she would like the public to know there are options when it comes to helping pets in distress.
The 20-year-old Kirkland Lake resident claims she was informed by a Hydro worker about a young cat that had approached him while on the job March 9.
“Hydro men from the scene did not help or call Advocates for Northern Animals for assistance,” Lebel stated in a Facebook conversation with Northern News. “When the men returned to work Monday, March 13th they had assumed she had passed (but) indeed alive, she was frozen stuck to the solid ice.
“I went out looking for her Monday March 13th immediately after hearing the news from a Hydro worker. I soon later found the young cat meowing with her paw and tail stuck in four inches deep of hard ice where she had likely spent the past two cold nights in temperatures of -30° degrees.”
Lebel went on to say that she found the cat in a ditch along Archer Drive, about 1 km from the wood Mill and the Dog Park on the left-hand side driving out of Kirkland Lake.
“The kitten was in awful conditions and in the horrendous weather for nearly five days,” she stated. “After melting the ice with warm water I was able to release her and what happened next broke my heart. She held my head, hugged my face, and kissed my nose with hers to say ‘thank you’ and would not let me go.
“I called her ‘Hugsy’ and I could tell Huggs was starving when she ate a large bowl of food and two patés of salmon and chicken in under the hour of rescuing her, and she was exhausted.”
It was a “miracle” the young cat was even alive,” Lebel went on to add.
Hugsy began her road to recovery slowly, eating every 3-4 hours with assistance due to her injured leg,.
“She tried to free herself by turning around it while it was stuck in ice causing her to twist and injure her leg,” Lebel stated
Hugsy is now in the care of Kirkland Lake Northern Advocates for Animals and it is there that she is being treated and given her shots. Lebel says the young cat will soon be spayed as well and then will be “ready to find a forever loving home.”
“She’s doing very well,” Lebel stated Friday. “We’re keeping an eye on her tail and her back paw toe to decide if it needs to be amputated or not due to frostbite.”
When it was suggested her deeds deserve some true praise, Lebel said she likes to think she didn’t do anything most anyone else wouldn’t have done.
“Are you kidding? I don’t see how anyone could ‘not’ help this poor kitten,” she stated. “I didn’t have a choice. She was going to die whether it was to be eaten by a wild animal, freeze or starve to death. I take pride in what I did but I also felt like it was the normal thing to do.”
Lebel explained that she’s “very disappointed” the Hydro workers didn’t take action to help the fact, but she is telling her story in the hope it will encourage others to help animals in distress. She also wants everyone to realize they can reach out to Animal Advocates for help.
Tracy Barbe of Advocates for Northern Animals posted on the organization that “little Miss Huggs” is doing quite well, but her ordeal did leave some permanent injuries.
“After her first vet appointment we believe she will loose half of her tail and some of the foot (but) she’s a sweet young cat and a real fighter,” she writes. “Huggs has been vaccinated and we are giving her some pain medication! She’s doing very well.”
For more information on helping some pets, visit Advocates for Northern Animals on Facebook!