Case Snapshot
Case ID: 13067
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: cat
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Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008

County: Pennington

Disposition: Open

Suspect(s) Unknown - We need your help!

About two-weeks-ago, a resident found a cat near-death, in an alley way. Since then, volunteers have been working to keep it alive, while bringing a community together, and exposing the world-wide problem of animal abuse.

Vence, a nine-month-old kitten, probably has every right not to trust people, but he does.

"His attitude is wonderful. He just loves people. He can't wait to be loved," Tom Huhnerkoch, a veterinarian, said.

A Deadwood resident found Vence frozen, starved and severely wounded, in a city alleyway.

"I think it's probably a case of abuse," Huhnerkoch said.

Since then, Huhnerkoch, a volunteer veterinarian at the Twin City Animal Shelter in Lead, has donated much of his time, and money to help Vence recover from frostbite, infection and a fractured spine.

"Of course, that's a death sentence for a cat," Huhnerkoch said.

"Animal abuse doesn't just happen with the Michael Vicks of the world. There's animal abuse everywhere," said Teah Pray, a Lead-Deadwood Elementary teacher and Twin City Animal Shelter volunteer.

"Animals are not disposable, yet they're treated that way," Huhnerkoch said.

That's why Pray is telling her third graders, Vence's story, to teach them how to care for animals and prevent animal cruelty.

"When children learn about animals, they're really learning about themselves as well. They're certainly learning how to treat each other through animals," Pray said.

"I can make one promise. On his remaining days, he will be warm, and he will be well fed, he will be loved, and above all, he'll be safe," Huhnerkoch said.

And even though Huhnerkoch says Vence will most likely die from his injuries, he hopes the cat's story, helps keep other animals safe, and prevents more abuse.

Pray's third-grade class started a 'Pennies for Vennie' fund, to help pay for the cat's medical expenses. And, Gold Dust Casino employees are offering a $100 reward, and asking the Deadwood community to join them, to search for the cat's alleged abusers.


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