“We want to find this person,” said Patricia Bracelin. “He shot at this cat in a residential area. He could have hit a child.”
Bracelin is a local animal rescue activist, who maintains the Operation Spay and Neuter non-profit program in Hawkesbury. The program focuses on dealing with homeless and feral cats in and around Hawkesbury and other areas, and also keeping track of feral cat colonies in the region.
Alpha was the chief tom cat, or patriarch, of a cat colony in the Du Moulin Street neighbourhood of Grenville, Québec. Bracelin estimated his age at 10, which in human is 56, making him a very senior middle-aged cat and quite old for a feral.
“He was quite the father,” said Bracelin, with a smile, as she reminisced about Alpha. “He sired a lot of children.”
At one point 20 of the colony members were collected and the cats either spayed or neutered as the first step to finding them new homes. Out of the 20 cats, 17 were adopted out. Alpha and two others proved unsuitable for adoption and were returned to their home colony.
Alpha had become a little less wary of humans over the years. He used to keep a far distance away when anyone in the neighbourhood set out a bowl of food for the benefit of the members of the colony. But during the past few months, he got into the habit of sitting close by, watching for a food bowl to appear and then waiting until whoever the kind and generous human was to step back to a safe distance before he would approach to eat.
A cruel death
Someone took advantage of Alpha’s growing trust in humans to use the old cat for target practice one fatal day.
“I got a call,” Bracelin said, “that Alpha was shot with an arrow. Shot right through the back.”
The youngest child of one of the families in the neighbourhood found Alpha late in the day May 27 over on Foucault Street. Alpha was still alive, but unable to move his hind legs. The child called his father, who examined the cat.
An arrow had pierced through Alpha’s body. Taking care not to avoid causing the cat any more pain, the father cut off the protruding ends of the arrow and placed Alpha inside a plastic cat box, intending to take him to the veterinarian the next day when the clinic was open.
But the next morning they found the carrier empty. Whether because he was in pain or afraid, Alpha escaped from the carrier.
“The door was broken,” Bracelin said. “Cracked from top to bottom.”
By then the family had called Bracelin. She and other volunteers showed up to help search the neighbourhood. They found drag marks in the sandy ground, marking Alpha’s trail away from the house.
The drag marks ended at a residential garage. Alpha lay tucked away, in hiding. A board was slid underneath the cat to bring him back out with as little injury as possible. Alpha was wrapped up in a towel and tarpaulin and taken to the veterinary clinic in Lachute.
“But we knew, when the vet came out,” said Bracelin, “that there was nothing anyone could do. His injuries were too severe.”
Report animal abuse
Alpha was given a humane death and his body taken back home to the colony for burial. Bracelin has filed reports on the incident with both the Sûreté and le Ministre de l’Agriculture, Pêcheries et Alimentation. The question is whether Alpha is the sole victim of someone’s cruelty.
“We’re afraid,” said Bracelin. “Other cats have disappeared.”
Since Alpha’s death, Bracelin has received a report about another cat, belonging to a woman in St-Étienne, who was also shot with an arrow early in May, but survived his traumatic experience.
“Now we’re wondering,” said Bracelin.
Anyone who has information about this or any other incident of cruelty to animals is asked to contact their local police.