More than $10,000 raised to help kitten burned in fire

2012-10-23T14:40:00Z 2012-10-24T09:34:30Z More than $10,000 raised to help kitten burned in fireBy Karen Hansen |

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 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.

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(22) Comments

  1. Honest Lender
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  4. Kentuckycat
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    Kentuckycat - November 12, 2012 1:16 pm
    mtbiker, you made me think about this situation, and what is best for the cat--and after I thought about it, you are right; it is too much suffering for the cat to endure. I wonder why the veternerian didn't suggest euthanasia. I hope the cat isn't suffering. Poor little thing will probably become addicted to pain killers. I never looked at the photos before, but I can tell you, that after having looked at the graphic photos, I know what I would do. However, I can't really judge the owner, but I do think it's unwise to keep the cat alive if it's suffering and/or has to be medicated continuously.
  5. Kentuckycat
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    Kentuckycat - November 12, 2012 1:11 pm
    Aww! While it is heartbreaking to see the horrible ordeal this darling cat had to endure, it is so inspiring to see that people are being so generous. While there is so much tragedy in the world, and we read--too often-- about animal and child's the outpouring of love and concern for helpless animals like Dutchess that enables us to see that there are more kind people than the uncaring ones. Get well soon, Dutchess!
  6. Sarge
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    Sarge - October 25, 2012 10:28 am
    I don't know if anyone is still reading this article or comments, but everyone should look up Bernice the burned cat in Oshkosh, WI. Watch the video made a year after she was burned and then think about the questions you're asking re: worthiness, pain, quality of life.
  7. Right57
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    Right57 - October 24, 2012 9:50 pm
    I question my own judgement as to why I renewed my subscription to the Pantagraph. There are a lot more news worthy human interest stories than on some poor cat that got burned in a fire. Can we start seeing articles on all the poor animals killed on the highways.
  8. Walter
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    Walter - October 24, 2012 6:00 pm
    I hate to say it, but I doubt the cat cares one way or the other, they are not emotional beings, they don't know their mother or siblings or father, and I doubt they remember if they had pain last week or not, they live in the current day, they will react per Pavlov's theory, this cat won't go near a fire again, but it won't remember why. I think if people want to support the challange of saving it so they can be amazed, then it is their money, but the cat won't care or know that they did it.
  9. ChubbyAlaskaGriz
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    ChubbyAlaskaGriz - October 24, 2012 12:55 pm
    Yes, but cats are helpless and cannot provide for themselves.
  10. WalterK
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    WalterK - October 24, 2012 12:32 pm
    If we took a look at our community I'm sure we could find a few families that are in DIRE need of even a part of this money. Really, it is just a cat. Humans > cats. If you don't think that, then your priority system is seriously in question. Animals deserve to be treated humanely. That means putting animals down when the situation warrants it. Looking at this poor animal, I just can't for the life of me understand the mentality of keeping it alive and in pain for months and months. How cruel can you get. I've owned cats my entire life, right now I have two. If this was my cat I wouldn't torture it like this just to have a warm fuzzy.
  11. BJJJ
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    BJJJ - October 24, 2012 10:03 am
    there are a lot of people out there that need to be put down before this KITTEN. My cats are twice as nice and have twice the intelligence as even some people on here. Everyone donate to the shelter so they can keep helping our dear pets...keep goin Dutchess! :)
  12. JLKz
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    JLKz - October 24, 2012 9:32 am
    um, does the technicalities of "cat" or "kitten" really change the fact that she was burned in a fire, recovering and being helped by others? That's all you really need to say about this article?
  13. ChubbyAlaskaGriz
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    ChubbyAlaskaGriz - October 24, 2012 9:17 am
  14. Captain
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    Captain - October 24, 2012 8:15 am
    I understand all the compassion for this CAT. Please quit with the "tiny kitten" references. An eight month old cat is just that: An eight month old CAT! I have a 13+ year old CAT myself, so don't throw the "animal hater" rocks at me!
  15. JLKz
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    JLKz - October 24, 2012 7:14 am
    Also, BC I'm not sure where you're getting your facts about animals and pain medication. Unless you have the sources to back that statement up, I think that should have been left off. It's clear to me you as well haven't seen Dutchess's Facebook page. It's clear you haven't seen the pictures or videos of her snuggling, purring, and being a very much normal, and happy kitty despite her recent injuries. She is in no way suffering 10 fold because she's on pain medication. She's actually able to cope extremely well on the pain meds. It doesn't affect her behavior, her attitude, her eating habits, or behaviors to other people.

    It seems as if Dutchess hasn't changed much at all personality or emotionally wise despite outward injury.
  16. JLKz
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    JLKz - October 24, 2012 7:11 am
    I think if any of you who are voicing opinions about putting the cat down actually went to the Facebook page of Dutchess, you would see a cat that may not look the same as it used to, but you will see a very animated, still very much happy cat. There are dozens of pictures, there is a video. Dutchess loves being with her human parents, she's still purring, asking for head rubs, neck rubs, she's eating normally, and the worst of her burns happens to be on the face, which in a matter of mere weeks, I think maybe 3, already look tremendously better. She is not suffering right now, she is in the right hands and getting the best care possible. She will be a perfect kitten soon enough, and for how much love she is showing her parents and the vets, she is very much thankful for all her care.
  17. irishrose75
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    irishrose75 - October 24, 2012 6:45 am
    Until you have met her or talked to her attending vets, perhaps it would be best if you kept your negative comments to yourself! This is an amazing kitten who has shown the will and determination to fight. She is always in good spirits and is very friendly. I recommend visiting her Facebook page The Dutchess Burn Fund to see a recent video of her showing that she is very much a loving kitten that is in minimal discomfort. Of course she is in some discomfort, her fur is growing back and it itches, and her eyes are a bit swollen as they recover. I can personally assure you that she was not saved out of an act of shelfishness, and the Vets attending to her made the decision that she could be treated and not put down. This was not the pet owners decision, but she could have opted to end the life of her kitten because it was too difficult for her - that would have been selfish! There are several cats across the country that have survived burns and gone on to be the most loving pets with minimal, if any, health issues. Perhaps, you should consult with them before rushing to judgement.
    As my mother always said - if you don't have anything nice to say....better to just not say anything!
  18. BC
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    BC - October 24, 2012 5:10 am
    I think they are speaking out of compassion. You are right, this is private donations and people can spend their money however they please. The question here, are they actually thinking of the animal? Sometimes we have to make heart breaking decisions about our kids also, quality of life versus length of life. Is it fair to put any creature through such pain because someone can't face allowing it to die. I have 2 cats, who are family members also. I don't know if I would allow them to be tortured just because I didn't want to lose them. I also once lost every possession in a house fire. A sense of hope comes from within and I knew we would survive and recover. They have their family and the ability to rebound with everything important intact. This kitty has to go through all this without understanding the reason. Animals, I understand, can't tolerate pain medication like humans so its suffering is worse. Will the outcome make a normal happy kitty or a disabled cat who will never again be able to be just a normal cat. Will it be normal temperament or mentally damaged. I can assure you it associates its pain and suffering with the humans trying to help it.
  19. WhatIf
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    WhatIf - October 23, 2012 7:13 pm
    I love animals. I would go to whatever means neccessary to defend my cat. However I know where to draw the line between being selfish and doing what is right for an animal.
  20. vivalavinyl
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    vivalavinyl - October 23, 2012 6:17 pm
    mtnbiker and Philippians313: you both sound to lack compassion and dumb, to speak frankly. To many pet owners, their pets are like their kids. Aren't we all creatures on this planet with feelings, emotions and our own lives to live no matter what that may be? Why do you care if others want to give their own money to care for an animal? It is not taxpayer money going to this. It is just people wanting to see a cat get another chance and hopefully help to give a family who lost everything a sense of hope in the good things in life.
  21. Philippians313
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    Philippians313 - October 23, 2012 5:43 pm
    Completely agree w/ mtnbiker.
  22. mtnbiker
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    mtnbiker - October 23, 2012 4:12 pm
    sad,sad event for this kitten. but for godsake do whats right. put the poor thing to sleep. the pain n suffering its going thru and what the kitten will go thru after surgeries. common sense has left many pet owners. now, lets see how many pet owners will turn this around and compare this to a child. its NOT. apples and oranges.
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