*Warning* Some images are graphic in this posting.
It was January 18th, 2016 and I was once again back in Playa del Carmen, Mexico for my annual trip working alongside Pet Project Rescue’s Mexican rescue partners. It was the first day that I, along with a rescue friend and fellow PPR board member, saw Hawkeye, a little orange tabby kitten perched on a pile of discarded bricks, planks of wood, and various other trash. Granted, this is not an uncommon picture at any construction site, but what was uncommon was that Hawkeye looked like a happy, clean, and chubby kitten….often the opposite to what you see of street animals in Mexico. So the rule of thumb applied, when in Mexico, a country with literally millions of street animals, a rescuer does not save healthy, street savvy animals, especially those being fed as Hawkeye was. So rather than rescue this clearly street smart and healthy kitten, he was trapped, neutered and returned (TNR) to his caregivers at the construction site.
It should be noted that he was not a kitten that was willing to interact with people, and always kept a safe distance from us. I walked by him every single day for a month, and each time he would look my way, make eye contact, and then continue on is way, which was usually climbing and running around the piles of construction materials. The sight of him each and every day made me smile, and while I wanted to bring him home so badly, I had to remind myself to focus on the animals that needed me most, like the 4 tiny puppies I had found in a Playa park 3 weeks earlier and was nursing back to health in my small apartment until they flew to PPR’s home base in MN. So there Hawkeye stayed.
Then one day, as I walked to an early morning appointment I passed Hawkeye and he made eye contact as he did every other day, but this time his eyes looked dark, exhausted, watery, and just not himself. I thought, oh no, he has a cold, which in cats can lead to a number of other issues. I made a note to check in on him again the next day, to make sure he wasn’t getting worse. When I went back I couldn’t find him. This continued for 3 days, and I began to worry. Then as it happens, I was walking by his normal spot with a few other rescue people and I mentioned Hawkeye, and that I was worried he was sick. A local rescue volunteer then told me that someone had told her he was injured and people were trying to trap him to get him to the vet, but were not yet successful. We were literally steps from the construction site as she told me this, and when I looked up there he was, perched again on a pile of trash. But this was not the normal Hawkeye. He was thin, dirty, and clearly uncomfortable. As I approached him my heart sank, as I realized he had very quickly deteriorated, and as I got close enough to really see him I gasped at the site of his degloved jaw. The skin from his lip, all along his jaw, and back to his throat was torn off and pushed back to his neck. He was starving, in pain, and despite the serious injury he was still attempting to eat the dry kibble left out for him. It was a testament to his street skills that he has still doing as well as he was, considering the severity of his injury.
The group of rescuers knew right away that we had to do something, and we rushed to get a live trap, tuna, and supplies to humanely trap him and to the vet for the care he needed. We climbed through piles of trash, broken glass, and things I’d prefer to not even know what they were! He would come close enough to eat a bit of tuna off a fork, but would not allow us to touch him and would bolt at any attempt to get too close. It took 6 hours of constant check ins before he walked in the live trap, and we finally had him secure!
The sense of relief cannot be put into words, and when the very next day we had torrential downpours, I could not help but be so grateful he was not out in the elements, as he surely would not have survived. Instead, he was safely with our partners at Coco’s Animal Welfare, getting 3 days of antibiotics and pain medication in preparation for his jaw surgery. To our surprise, nothing was broken, and the skin could be saved and reattached. The amazing vets did a fantastic job putting Hawkeye back together and in just 2.5 weeks he was fully healed and loving people! We still have no idea what caused his injury, but was likely a result of living among so much broken glass and garbage. Almost exactly 3 weeks to the day when I found him injured, the healthy Hawkeye was on a flight to MN and starting his new journey to find a forever home!
It’s has taken a village of rescuers to help trap him, overnight him until he could get to the vet, recover him at Coco’s, raise the funds to get him to MN, fly him to us, and foster him with Pet Project Rescue. That is a whole lot of people working hard to make this 6 month old kitten’s life a good one. Thank you everyone who has helped him get to a better life!
I cannot help but think that on January 18th mine and Hawkeye’s lives became bonded, and that it became my responsibility to look out for him. I had no idea what was to come from the very first day I saw that tiny, adorable kitten perched on top of his tower of trash, but when Hawkeye arrived to PPR on March 18th, I knew we had come full circle in rescue. So what’s next? Hawkeye will hang out with his foster mom for a couple weeks to settle in and finish out some basic vetting, like vaccine boosters. From there he will look for a forever home that will be the perfect fit for this very special young kitty, and live happily ever after.
To apply to adopt Hawkeye visit our page at http://petprojectrescue.com/adopt/adoption-application/