The cats are out of the box!
On July 21, a 90-plus-degree day, the South Florida Wildlife Center got a shocking delivery: an unknown individual dumped a sealed styrofoam box containing five live kittens outside the facility.
Luckily the center was open at the time, so employees quickly found the baby cats, who were panting, sweaty, running high temperatures and shaking when they were discovered. The team at the South Florida Wildlife Center, which also has experience with domestic animals, immediately started caring for the kittens, focusing on getting the cats’ temperature to a safe range.
Rehabilitating and releasing more than 12,000 wild animals each year, the center has seem some “wild” things, but this act of cruelty shocked even the most seasoned employees of the facility.
“There is no excuse for people leaving defenseless animals in tightly sealed boxes or tethered in the burning sun, with no regard, or at least, no understanding, of the impact the heat, stress and lack or air flow has on the animals,” Debra Parsons-Drake, executive director of the South Florida Wildlife Center, an affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement.
“This happens over and over again, from coast to coast. Many times, like in this case of the kittens dumped here at the South Florida Wildlife Center, these animals are in critical condition — frantic, panting, dehydrated and close to having seizures from their horrific ordeal. We hope that the efforts of our medical staff will be successful in saving them,” she added.
These efforts are paying off. All of the baby cats, four males and one female, are all in better health several days after being dumped.
“The kittens have responded very well in our care; they are extremely lucky to have been found when they were — even a few minutes more and serious consequences, including seizures and death, could have occurred,” Dr. Amanda Grant, a veterinarian at the South Florida Wildlife Center, told PEOPLE via email.
“They received emergency exams, fluids and other lifesaving veterinary treatment,” she continued. “Their vital signs are all within normal limits now but we are continuing to monitor their body temperature, heart rate and lung sounds. We are also checking their mucous membranes for signs of internal bleeding. We are optimistic that they will soon be fully healthy and ready to be adopted,”
As Dr. Grant mentioned, things could have easily gone another way for these innocent animals if the spent even a few more minutes in the box.
The South Florida Wildlife Center and The Humane Society of the United States are using this rescue as a chance to remind others about animal surrender.
“Leaving the kittens in such awful conditions was life-threatening and cruel; the person who did so left them outside of a wildlife hospital, instead of bringing them inside, or taking them to a domestic animal shelter,” Parsons-Drake added in her statement. “It is fortunate that the South Florida Wildlife Center has skilled veterinary and domestic animal experience or the outcome would likely have been fatal. Surrendering an animal, in a compassionate and responsible way, is nothing to be ashamed of. But leaving them defenseless, afraid and in peril is unconscionable.”
To learn more about the South Florida Wildlife Center, including the 350 species the staff helps each year, visit the facility’s website here.