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Lawrence pet owner faces charges after tying ailing cat to wall next to radiator

Courtesy photo/MSPCA-Angell Marte's foster home is none other than Mike Keiley's - the director of the MSPCA-Nevins Farm adoption center. 2/4/14
Marte with Mike Keiley, director of the MSPCA-Nevins Farm adoption centerCredit: MSPCA-Angell

A Lawrence pet owner is facing felony animal cruelty charges after he allegedly tied his kitten, who was dying of an internal infection, by the neck to the wall next to his home’s radiator.

The alleged abuse began in early January when Marte, the 7-month old kitten, swallowed a string, said MSPCA Angell spokesman Rob Halpin.

“We get that kind of case here all the time, where an animal comes in having swallowed a piece of string,” Halpin said in a telephone interview. “It can be extremely dangerous or not dangerous at all, depending on if it’s addressed immediately.”

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After an animal swallows a string, it can either be dragged out from their mouth, or they can undergo a small surgical procedure to remove it, Halpin said. In Marte’s case, the pet owner chose neither.

The string was left in the cat’s body for weeks, allowing it to travel down into, wrap around, and puncture his intestines. This led to fluids and matter from his intestines spilling into his body, Halpin said.

Marte’s infection caused him to vomit constantly, prompting the owner to tie a shoelace around the kitten’s neck and tack the string to the wall next to the radiator in order to keep the vomit spills contained, Halpin said.

Unable to move, Marte became dangerously dehydrated and thin due to the heat from the radiator and his persistent vomiting.

When Lawrence animal control officers arrived on Jan. 24, Marte was dying.

He was rushed to emergency surgery at MSPCA Angell, where he had almost half of his intestines surgically removed.

“When he arrived, he had about a 30 percent chance of surviving,” Halpin said. “Our veterinary surgeons put his intestines back together in a way that would give him the best chance of recovery, but a lot of his intestine couldn’t be saved.”

Marte survived surgery, and is currently being cared for by the MSPCA Nevins Farm Adoption Center. He will be put up for adoption after he makes a full recovery.

“In terms of animal cruelty, I’m sad to say it’s not one of the worst cases that we’ve seen,” Halpin said. “But it says a lot about the owner as a person.”

Halpin referred a reporter to the city’s animal control officer for comment on the criminal case. The officer did not immediately return a message this afternoon.

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