Buddy the cat was brutally attacked. His survival saved countless animals.
But as Venanzi tended to her many injuries, she noticed the cat growling at BluePearl Pet Hospital staff and banging her tail on the table – a telltale sign of feline annoyance; she knew she had a fighter on her hands.
“I thought, ‘This cat could do it,'” Venanzi, 35, said.
Buddy not only went through his brush with death on March 22, he is now physically healed, although he has emotional scars, Venanzi said.
He also became a sudden celebrity, bringing so many donations to the Philadelphia SPCA that the funds now go to help other sick and injured animals.
“I think people were outraged by what they saw, and I think they were also supportive of Buddy,” said Gillian Kocher, public relations director for the PSPCA.
When Buddy was attacked, he was outside a house in the Frankford neighborhood of Philadelphia, where the owners left him food and water.
A surveillance camera captured the attack, in which the boys were walking two dogs and apparently encouraged them to mutilate the cat, until the owners came out and arrested him.
The police arrived and Buddy was taken to the Philadelphia SPCA and then to the emergency clinic. Officers have launched an investigation.
A video of the attack went viral and the PSPCA shared Buddy’s story with the media. A wave of people were disgusted by the cruelty and started cheering Buddy on.
“He’s been through a lot, but he’s kind of a symbol – not just for hope and recovery, but he tells other cats that hopefully it won’t happen to them,” said Kocher.
The PSPCA posted on its Facebook page about Buddy on several occasions, beginning March 23, when it was unclear whether Buddy would survive. People shared the story from afar; they gushed about Buddy in the comments.
“Dude, we all love you. What a brave boy you are!” wrote one Facebook user.
” Given. Prayers for this nice boy who didn’t deserve this,” another wrote.
“Your story will not be ignored,” wrote a third person. “This act of animal cruelty should never have happened.”
Buddy’s recovery has led to over $100,000 in donations from around the world on the PSPCA’s Buddy fundraising page. The shelter’s “Save Every Buddy” movement, along with slogan t-shirts, raised an additional $30,000.
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After paying for Buddy’s medical care, the rest of the money will now be used to cover the care of other injured and sick cats.
Kocher said the response to Buddy was unlike anything she had seen in her seven years at the shelter.
“It was just amazing,” Kocher said. “There really are no words for the outpouring of support just for this animal.”
People felt a connection to Buddy, she said.
“Obviously he’s a cat, but he was definitely an underdog,” Kocher said.
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The two boys who allegedly released their dogs on Buddy are charged as minors with crimes including aggravated animal cruelty and animal fighting. The dogs they were walking that day were also cared for by the ASPCA.
As for Buddy, he may have found his forever home. Venanzi, the veterinarian, approached the shelter to place him in foster care after he was discharged from the clinic, but he was still recovering.
Venanzi’s husband, Dave, came up with the idea to take the cat on, knowing how his wife had bonded with Buddy. One of the couple’s two cats had died in January and they had room for another.
They took him home on April 1 and Buddy quickly started purring then jumped into Dave’s lap.
“We kind of had a feeling that we would end up being a first ‘foster fail’,” said Dave Venanzi, 35, describing the common animal rescue story where a pet finds his forever home with adoptive parents.
The Venanzis said they were about 90% sure they would keep Buddy, explaining that they wanted to be sure their home was the right place for him. There were many other adoption offers.
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Katie Venanzi describes Buddy as vocal, laid back and a “big love bug”. His colleagues at the clinic cooed when they spotted Buddy during a recent Zoom call from staff.
“He became like my little shadow,” she says. “Wherever I go, he’s right behind me.”
Kocher said it would be a perfect outcome if Buddy ended up with the vet who saved him.
“That kind of sums it all up,” she said.
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