SAYBROOK — A tiny kitten badly burned in a Saybrook house fire will get all the care she needs, and more, thanks to the generosity of donors from around the world.
More than $10,290 has been raised to pay bills for 8-month-old Dutchess as she continues to recover at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s Small Animal Clinic in Urbana. The amount is more than twice the initial $5,000 goal set by friends and supporters, who rallied to help owner Jackie Jones after she and her family lost everything in the Sept. 19 blaze.
“She is a fighter that’s for sure,” Jones said of her kitten, who was featured in an Oct. 9 story in The Pantagraph.
Dutchess, who weighs about 5 pounds, was burned over about 75 percent of her body in the blaze.
“I’m seeing definite progress,” said Dr. Jennifer Herring, an emergency and critical care resident at the veterinary hospital. “Her limbs are healing great. She’s starting to get fur back on her face; her whiskers are growing in … She’s still eating great; she’s still purring.”
But Dutchess is having some trouble with her eyelids that were burned. They are now retracting because of the subsequent scarring, Herring said, and she cannot completely close her eyes. She’s getting medication and it’s possible she will need surgery to correct the problem. Cats do have a third eyelid, Herring said, which Dutchess can use to help her sleep.
Herring expects Dutchess to be at the veterinary hospital for at least a few more weeks.
Her recovery gained worldwide attention after Gibson City firefighter Toni Day, who helped rescue Dutchess, and her partner, Christy Day, started a Facebook page to raise awareness of the pint-sized tabby because her family was unable to afford her care after the fire. Donations poured in as people became aware of her plight.
Dutchess now has more than 2,200 Facebook fans who monitor her progress. Monetary donations have been suspended; friends and family suggest people who still want to donate consider a gift to Central Illinois Small Animal Rescue near Colfax, where Dutchess was cared for immediately after the fire. Others want to send toys and treats for Dutchess to have when she returns home.
“She’s doing a lot better,” said Toni Day, who visits her each weekend. “She’s made quite the strides in a month’s time.”
How to help
- Monetary donations for Dutchess’ care have been suspended. Family and friends are asking those who want to donate in Dutchess’ name to consider a gift to Central Illinois Small Animal Rescue near Colfax, where Dutchess stayed immediately after the fire, and which is facing foreclosure. Donations can be made through Paypal at http://cisarshelter.com/web/ and donors can indicate it is in honor of Dutchess Jones in the notes field.
- People wishing to donate toys, treats or other gifts directly to Dutchess can mail them to Jackie Jones, P.O. Box 181, Saybrook IL 61770.