Infamous Online Forum Teams Up to Help Mauled Cat

 |  Jul 5th 2011  |   5 Contributions


A photo of Mr. Finch before he was attacked by two dogs. Photo courtesy of the Muir family

In a surprising turn of events, members of 4chan -- an anonymous message board community known around the internet for its contributions to sleazy memes and its members' brutal treatment of others -- responded positively to a request for help from the owner of a grievously injured cat.

Last Saturday, Amy Muir of Glenwood Springs, Colo., heard a huge ruckus outside her home. She ran outside to find out what was going on and was horrified to find the family's 7-year-old cat, Atticus Finch (or Mr. Finch, for short), being mauled by two neighborhood dogs.

If it had been a couple of minutes later, I don't think he would have survived, she said.

Muir and her daughters rushed Mr. Finch to Valley Emergency Pet Care, a 24-hour clinic located in the nearby town of Basalt, where veterinarian Scott Dolginow fought to save the cat's life.

The attack resulted in puncture wounds that tore muscles, broke vertebrae, and even knocked one of his kidneys out of his abdominal wall.

The family knew the expenses for Mr. Finch's treatment would be a severe strain on their budget, and they didn't know how they would be able to pay the bill. But their love for the cat trumped any worries about the cost of his care.

It's a classic case where we treat the animals whether or not the owners can pay, Dolginow said. Although the Basalt clinic struggles to stay afloat, he knows he is providing a vital service for pet lovers.

The effort is worth it, Dolginow said, because families like the Muirs obviously care for their pets.

After they returned to their home, Anne's 20-year-old daughter Kate Muir figured out a way she could help raise money to pay Mr. Finch's medical bills.

She posted a picture of the cat being treated at the emergency clinic, along with a comment on his situation, on one of 4chan's image boards. Then she opened a PayPal account and asked people to contribute to his care, even if it was just $1.

Kate knew she was taking a huge chance, she said, because people using the website are notorious for helping or ruining your life.

True to 4chan form, many of the comments on the image were brutal. A lot of people didn't think my story was true, that I was trying to scam them, Kate said. But some others were sympathetic to Mr. Finch's plight and pledged to make contributions.

Greg Sher of Arkansas happened to be browsing 4chan late Saturday night. He saw Kate's post and was surprised by the seeming sincerity of the OP [original poster], he said.

Atticus looked so sad in the picture, Sher said. He had an IV sticking out of his paw, and I really felt sorry for him. I have two cats myself, and I would feel terrible if they had been in a similar situation.

Since so many people were making comments accusing Kate of lying, Sher took it upon himself to call the clinic and investigate. He spoke to Dolginow and learned that Kate's story was authentic.

Once I found out that the story was true, I began actively challenging other posters to call the vet and find out for themselves, Sher said. I continued to bump post in the original thread, and when it died off, I started a new one.

By July 2, she had raised about $176 in donations.

Although Dolginow has estimated Mr. Finch's medical bills at $2,500 and climbing, the family is grateful for the contributions made thus far.

Dolginow has been a veterinarian for 26 years and operator of the emergency clinic for six of those. He says he has never before encountered a case where strangers responded to an internet forum post and called in to check on an animal getting treated. The clinic received between five and 10 calls on Sunday and Monday.

Some were irritated people who said, Just put the cat to sleep,' he said.

But all in all, the unexpected kindness of the 4channers who contributed are helping everyone involved find more faith in humankind.

Anne said they visited Mr. Finch Thursday night, and despite his injuries, he welcomed them with a pur.

He's doing really well, Kate said. I think he's going to make it through this. He was really lucky.

[Source: Glenwood Springs Post Independent]

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