Last February, during a stressful special election, a long-haired calico cat began hanging around the Summit County, Ohio, Elections Board office.
Concerned about her welfare, Gary Hagen, the former assistant to the deputy director, began feeding her. He even came in on weekends to make sure she had food.
Gradually the cat, who earned the name Special due to the timing of her arrival, became a fixture at the Elections Board office. When the weather turned cold in November, board employees began letting the cat inside the building’s warehouse-like back room so she could be protected from the elements.
And just like a charismatic politician, Special slowly worked her way into the inner office. With their own money, employees purchased a chair, toys, catnip treats, litter box, and food.
Employees lauded Special for her ability to calm the tense and often divisive atmosphere at the politically charged office, bringing together Democratic and Republican employees who rarely, if ever, talked before.
“She’s united both parties an independent,” joked Marijean Donofrio, the board’s Democratic director, in an earlier article about Special.
Today, though, the employees of the Summit County elections board are united for another, sadder reason: Special died yesterday during a life-saving surgery.
Board employees noticed last week that Special was having trouble breathing. They brought her to the veterinarian, who diagnosed the cat with a herniated diaphragm. She had likely been hit by a car at some point, the vet told them, and that caused the damage.
Another area vet offered to perform the necessary surgery, which normally costs about $2,000, free of charge. But Board employees were advised that due to Special’s damaged heart, she might not survive the operation.
Unfortunately, the vet’s words proved true, and the kind calico died on the table.
“She was a sweet little thing,” said Donofrio as she fought back tears.
Donofrio had planned to nurse Special at home as she recovered from her surgery, and she hoped that her husband, Summit County Fiscal Officer John Donofrio, would fall in love with Special and allow her to have a permanent home.
Board employees asked the vet for the cat’s ashes.
“She was so special,” Donofrio said.
[Source: Akron Beacon Journal]