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Kitten rescued after owner allegedly tries to flush it down toilet

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At the young age of 4 months, this female cat, named Mercy by her caregivers, has reason to distrust humans. Mercy still purrs when humans approach, in spite of being abandoned at birth and later adopted – only to be allegedly beaten and almost drowned by her new owner late Sunday night. The beating broke the kitten’s pelvis and severely and damaged her left eye. MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian

The smashed-up kitten with tiger stripes is newly named Mercy because she's going to need a lot more of it.

Late in November, the kitty arrived at Missoula Animal Control. She'd been abandoned on a porch with some other young cats, said shelter attendant Barb Parker.

Parker nursed a couple of the kitties back to health. Mercy - then named Lovey - was tiny and most ill.

"She was the most frail of all of the kittens that came in," Parker said Monday.

When she grew strong, Animal Control adopted her out. But now she's back and broken, and she needs more help than ever.

Late Sunday night, neighbors called police to report screaming and yelling at the home of Gary Bassett, Parker said. When police came to the door, the officer encountered a disaster.

"It just looked like a scene out of a horror movie," said Parker, who visited with the police.

The lid on a toilet was broken and water covered the floor. Not far away, Parker said, an officer saw a kitten in a wet heap on the floor and figured she was dead. She also said the scene suggested the nature of the struggle.

"The fellow that had adopted her had tried to flush her down the toilet," Parker said.

Around 2 a.m. Monday, the police took the kitten to Pruyn Veterinary Hospital. Her head was shaved for no apparent reason. One of her eyes is red, and Parker said at first the people trying to help her thought she had a fractured skull.

"Amazingly enough, she doesn't," Parker said. "But her pelvis is just completely smashed. He either threw her against the wall or stomped her."

So the kitten, now named Mercy, is going to need surgery, and that's going to cost some $800 or $900. Parker also said Animal Control, which will pay for the surgery, needs help with the expense.


The shelter counted some 63 cats Monday, and it's no secret Missoula is often overrun with cats. Why not put Mercy down?

"If you went and met the kitty, you'd understand why. She purrs and kneads the whole time you're talking to her," Parker said.

In fact, when the 4-month-old kitten first arrived at the vet, she was nearly comatose and hypothermic. Parker said the technician heard vital signs, and it wasn't her heart beating.

"I can tell you she's alive because she's purring to beat the band," Parker said the tech announced.

At the vet late Monday afternoon, Animal Control officer Judy Vernier checked on Mercy. She was wrapped in a towel in an incubator. One paw with an IV was wrapped in medical tape. Her fur was matted in places, one eye was red, and her hind end was misshapen.

"It looks like he probably stomped her. Her pelvis is all broken. Her hip ball is broken off," Vernier said.

Surgery wasn't yet scheduled, but one thing doesn't need fixing. Mercy's spirit isn't broken.

"She talks to you and she kneads the blanket when you talk with her," Vernier said.

She said charges are pending, and felony aggravated animal cruelty is possible. Bassett was not taken into custody.


The kitten was adopted out to Bassett on Jan. 7, Parker said. Animal Control keeps a "do not adopt" list of people who shouldn't take home animals. Some refuse to license dogs or adopt animals only to immediately return them. She said Bassett's name was not on the "do not adopt" list.

Vernier said Animal Control also screens people who want to adopt. Despite their attempts, some pet owners get through who shouldn't. And Vernier has little sympathy for people who are cruel to animals.

"They asked us years ago if we wanted to carry guns, and I turned it down. It'd just be too tempting," Vernier said.

People interested in donating should make checks payable to Friends of the Shelter. Parker said it's a fund Animal Control uses to help people with unexpected medical bills, spaying and neutering, and long-term medications.

The police detective investigating the case could not be reached for comment. Bassett also could not be reached for comment.

Reporter Keila Szpaller can be reached at 523-5262, or on


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Help pay for Mercy's surgery, which will cost $800 or $900. Make checks payable to Friends of the Shelter. Mail to: Missoula Animal Control, 6…

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