NEW PORT RICHEY — On the afternoon of May 1, a woman a few blocks from Sims Park in New Port Richey found a cat that had been shot with a hunting arrow. The cat was petite and maybe a year old. She had long black and white fur and a sweet disposition. She was not a feral cat. At one point, she belonged to someone.
Just below the slicing arrowhead were two razor blades, jutting out on each side. These types of arrows are used for hunting and shred muscle, crush bone, cause massive blood loss and wounds that do not clot. One brand said the razor blades lead to "quick and humane harvests."
But this cat didn't die quickly.
The woman who found her rushed the cat to Pasco Animal Hospital on U.S. 19. There, Dr. Geoffrey Adams immediately placed the cat on painkillers, so she was comfortable. He inspected the wound and estimated the 7-pound cat had been shot at least a few days before being found.
Dr. Adams often finds BB gun pellets in pets, but has never treated an animal suffering from this amount of cruelty. The arrow had ripped through the front of her chest — entering one side and out the other — but somehow didn't penetrate the rib cage or organs. It tore through her shoulder and chest muscles and eviscerated her right leg.
Dr. Adams carefully removed the arrow and amputated her leg. He repaired as much of the damage as he could. He named the cat Arwen, after the beautiful, noble half-elf from the Lord of the Rings.
The woman filed a report with the New Port Richey Police Department. Lt. Scott Baker said an officer is investigating the crime. He urges anyone with information to call the Police Department at (727) 841-4550. Tips can be anonymous.
Baker has worked at the department for 21 years and takes animal cruelty cases seriously.
"We often see unfortunate cases later on, when these people become worse and move to person-on-person crime," Baker said. "There is a pattern."
Baker said if the shooter is caught, he or she would be charged with a felony and could face up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
At Pasco Animal Hospital, Dr. Adams and his staff all swooped in to save Arwen. They kept her in an incubator on a comfy thermal pad. She had a continuous IV of pain medicine. Adams gave her a blood transfusion from their donor office cat. He and his staff talked to her and petted her and loved her.
During the weekend, Adams kept coming in to check on her, often bringing his wife and toddler with him. Arwen seemed stable and, at one point, began grooming herself, which was a very good sign. He hand-fed her, but she wasn't taking in enough nutrients, so he put her on a feeding tube.
Every time he weighed her suffering with her chances, he kept feeling as though she looked at him and said, "Give me a chance. Give me more time." He said she was a fighter.
But on May 4, a Sunday, her breathing became labored and Adams was there when she died. It all happened very quickly.
"At least she knew the touch of a kind hand and relief from her suffering," Adams said.
He is trying to not be disgusted with humanity. "There are sick people out there and they need help," he said. He feels society is so detached from nature that many don't understand animals. "They suffer and feel pain and feel fear," Adams said.
His staff is devastated.
"She was such a good baby," said Marge Helton, the office manager.
Arwen will be cremated and the office is not planning on having a service. They are keeping the arrow, just in case the police need it as evidence, if they find the person who did this.
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 909-4609.