When Gillian Myers heard that another pet cat in Bellingham’s Sunnyland Neighborhood had suffered injury after an apparent gunshot on Wednesday night, she admits it opened a flood of different emotions.
It hasn’t even been a month since Emmett, the cat she and her husband own, suffered a gunshot wound on June 15 that resulted in the amputation of Emmett’s left hind leg.
“It was kind of like re-experiencing everything,” Myers said Thursday afternoon. “I’m always sad when any animal is injured, and it’s scary to know that someone is shooting a gun in our neighborhood. But I was also angry that this is happening. I still can’t believe someone would do that. There’s a lot of different things I’m feeling, really, but yeah, it probably makes me angry most of all.”
If anybody understands that emotion, it’s Sarah Richardson, who came home from work at about 7 p.m. Wednesday to find her 6-year-old tabby, Chowder, with a gunshot wound of his own.
“He was laying kind of weird and flopping around,” Richardson said. “I saw blood on his leg, and when I picked him up, under his right armpit area there was blood everywhere. I put him down and he kind of collapsed on the porch.”
Richardson said she rushed Chowder to an emergency veterinarian. Four hours later, she received a call informing her that he had been shot by something that looked bigger than a BB — perhaps a .22, Richardson said.
“I’ve lived in this neighborhood in this house for two years,” Richardson said, describing her level of anger after getting the news from the vet. “For the most part, everyone in this neighborhood is friendly, and I’ve tried to be friendly to everyone I meet. ... It’s unnerving how cats don’t stray to far from their house and this is happening so close.”
Bellingham Police are now investigating if Emmett’s and Chowder’s shootings are connected Lt. Danette Beckley said, though there are no suspects at this point and there is, “nothing to go on unless we get new info.”
“Sad for sure,” Beckley said. “Glad the cat survived.”
The fact that Chowder is now resting at home is no surprise to Richardson, though the the bullet remains lodged in his chest.
“They decided to leave it in,” Richardson said. “It might cause more harm to try to take it out, and it was going to cost thousands to have it removed, so why take the chance? He’s a bad (expletive).”
Richardson said Chowder is drugged up and feeling good now, but he’s got a hole in his side and she’s preparing for a long recovery.
Emmett also recovered from his injuries, which are now nearly a month old.
“He’s good,” Myers said. “He’s adjusting pretty well. He’s jumping and moving around and the wound where his leg was amputated is healing. I was thinking maybe he could go outside again, but then I saw this, and I’m thinking maybe not.”
Myers said she remembers coming home on a Friday night around 9 p.m. to find Emmett laying next to her back door.
“I could see there was blood on his leg,” Myers said. “He’s gotten in fights before, so I thought maybe he was in a fight. I picked him up and brought him inside, and I could tell the wound looked clean. I thought maybe he got bit by a dog or something.”
After speaking to her husband, they determined Emmett must have been injured between 6 and 9 p.m., and a neighbor told her she didn’t hear a fight but she did, “hear one cat scream.”
The couple decided it was best to take Emmett to an emergency vet, and as Myers was putting him in his carrying crate she noticed that he wasn’t putting any weight on the leg.
“I thought maybe he’d fallen off something,” Myers said. “The vet initially thought maybe he’d been shot by a BB, because it was so clean, but then we did the X-ray and read it and it showed a bullet. The vet thought it was a .22, because the entire leg bone was shattered.”
The next day, they took Emmett to Langley, B.C., where he could have emergency weekend surgery to amputate his leg.
To help pay for the vet costs, Myers started a gofundme page on June 18 and has raised $3,765 of her goal of $4,904 goal in 24 days.
The two owners planned to get together Thursday to support each other, but both said they’ve gotten plenty of support from the Sunnyland community.
“The response of support and love and care for us and our cat has been overwhelming,” Myers said. “Seeing that part of our community, it’s good to be reminded that there are a lot more good people than bad. It’s still scary, but I have faith in my community, and I hope we can move on from this.”
Richardson said the two owners are combining to offer a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the person responsible for shooting their cats. Any information should be directed to the Bellingham Police Department at 360-778-8800.