A North Whidbey woman is starting a reward fund for information leading to the person or people responsible for causing a horrific injury to a cat with fireworks.
Chrissie Dunlap said her family was devastated by the crime and the loss of the sweet kitty, but she was also comforted by response from social media.
“People have reached out,” she said. “It was so overwhelming. There’s so much love in this community and anger over what happened.”
Dunlap explained that her cat, Kenai, went outside in the morning of July 3, which is his usual routine.
She lives on Summit Boulevard, which is near Ault Field Road. She saw him walking to the house in the early evening, and he looked fine from a distance.
But when Kenai got closer, she saw that his face was covered in blood. She cautiously approached him, but the injured feline ran into blackberry bushes before she could get to him. She continually went outside to look for him and call for him over the next 48 hours, but he was nowhere to be seen.
Finally, on Sunday afternoon, her grandchildren left the sliding glass door ajar and Kenai walked into the house.
The injuries to his lower face were horrifying, Dunlap said. His entire mouth was “distorted,” she explained. The skin on his jaw was hanging off the bone, his teeth were missing or broken and the roof of his mouth was hanging down.
The fur around his mouth and his whiskers were singed.
Her son and daughter-in-law took the cat to an emergency hospital in Skagit County. The veterinarian, however, didn’t have good news.
“The vet said it would take multiple surgeries to repair the damage,” she said, “and even then he couldn’t guarantee Kenai’s quality of life.”
As a result, the injured cat was euthanized.
Dunlap said she called the Island County Sheriff’s Office and was grateful for the response.
Evan Tingstad, the chief criminal deputy, said the department takes the case very seriously.
Tingstad said the cat’s wounds do seem to have been caused by fireworks of some kind.
“I don’t know what else would cause that kind of injury,” he said, noting the singed fur.
It’s being investigated as animal cruelty in the first degree, which is a felony charge. Tingstad said an animal control officer interviewed about 25 residents in the neighborhood, but there are currently no leads in the case.
Dunlap told the story of what happened to Kenai on the Facebook page Whidbey Island Community and quickly got a huge response of “support, love and anger.” One of those people to respond was Christopher Reed, who is running for Island County commissioner. He helped her to set up the reward account at Alaska USA.