RIVERVIEW - When you see the look on Emily's furry face, you would never know that just hours earlier she was abandoned on the side of U.S. 301 in Riverview, with a hunting arrow completely through her midsection.
WARNING: The video above includes graphic images .
The orange and white tabby cat is recovering after being rushed to Riverview Veterinary Hospital.
"We've had numerous calls," said Bonnie Hann, co-owner of the clinic. "Every single one, the first thing they said was 'How is the kitten doing? Is the cat OK?'" she said.
Emily is expected to survive, but her injuries are severe, according to Dr. Morgan Vargo, a veterinarian at the animal hospital. The arrow punctured a vertebrae halfway down her back, and the cat hasn't been able to move its hind legs.
Vargo said it's not impossible for an animal to recover from such an injury, but it's also likely she may never walk on all fours again.
"They have carts for animals who can't use their back legs," Vargo said. "They still make very good pets."
Emily is still a ways off from being adoptable, as she's heavily medicated and requi res special care. But she'll have no trouble finding a home. Hann said they plan to interview adoption candidates as soon as she's ready.
"It is really heartwarming to know there are so many people who really do care about animals," Hann said.
Not so heartwarming is the concept that someone would shoot a defenseless cat with a bow and arrow. Investigators with Hillsborough County Animal Services noted that the arrow was missing its serial number, which is required on all hunting arrows. That means tracking whoever owned it will be more difficult.
Also, the arrow had already been severed on each end, meaning someone either tried to remove it from the cat, or was trying to remove the arrow's information.
Either way, investigators hope the publicity will help lead them to a suspect. Shooting a cat with an arrow is a felony animal cruelty crime.
Emily was spayed and appeared to be well socialized, suggesting she may have had a permanent owner at one time. For those who helped save her life, it was a more difficult case than usual.
"I really kind of makes you sad," Vargo said. "That's something that should have never happened to that cat, and she could have lived her whole life without having that problem."
If you have any information about the arrow attack on Emily, call the Hillsborough County Animal Cruelty Hotline at (813) 744-5550.
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