How an online community rallied around one very special cat, covering her $ 10,000 surgery so she could go on to brighten days and help others
A baby opossum in the middle of the road?! Not a farfetched hypothesis when driving a country lane in Jacksonville, Florida, and certainly what Carmen Bernard thought she’d find when she pulled over to get a better look. To her surprise, the small creature turned out to be a kitten, “it's poor little back legs and tail all twisted up,” Carmen recounts. “I was sure it must have been in pain so I scooped it up in a shoe box and took it home with me so I could get it to a vet.”
The vet promptly determined the kitten’s injuries weren’t due to road trauma as Carmen had thought, but rather a genetic birth defect, and gave Carmen two options—euthanize the little kitten or take her home and care for her herself.
So Carmen came home with the pitiful kitten and decided to make a Facebook page for her. “I thought I was being original and had no idea that everyone and their cousin makes pages for their pets!” she says. When she woke up the next morning to close to 400 likes, she couldn’t believe it. Carmen decided to ask the fledging online community to give the kitten a name. Pretzel, as she was christened, now has 47,000 thousand fans around the world.
It was Pretzel's fans that suggested that Carmen take her to a specialist, so Carmen carted the kitten off to the University of Florida for an evaluation, where it was not only determined that she would require a series of reconstructive surgeries to fix her legs and prevent a lifetime of skin irritations and UTIs due to the way her legs were twisted back and around, but also that she was completely blind. The doctors gave Carmen an estimate of $10,000 for the necessary surgeries to fix Pretzel’s legs. “I thanked the doctors and laughed and cried all the way home,” Carmen says. “Who has that kind of money?”
Apparently Pretzel’s fans did. Carmen posted an update on Pretzel’s page and immediately offers of help started pouring in. “I never in a million years expected so many people to come to the aide of a cat like that. She was even on our local news broadcast one night!” Carmen says. Within no time at all, the hospital received enough donations to cover the cost