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Three-month-old 'Merida' in recovery but McMinnville police still seeking culprit

COURTESY PHOTO: BRITTANY HAZEL - A veterinarian successfully removed an arrow from a young cat and the feline is expected to make a full recovery.

On Nov. 16, Brittany Hazel of Hazel's House received what she characterized as one of the most disturbing calls in the five years she's operated a local animal rescue: a kitten shot in the leg with an arrow.

Three-month-old 'Merida' — as she was later named after the Disney princess skilled at archery — was found on Eighth and Hembree in McMinnville. The three-and-a-half-pound kitten wore an old, ratty collar that gave no indication as to whom she belonged.

"The finders were panicked and unsure what to do," Hazel wrote in a Facebook post, adding that upon arriving at the scene an hour later, she too was "speechless and shocked."

"I've seen a lot of s--t …," Hazel, who once cared for a cat with a shallow bullet wound, said in a follow-up livestream. "I've seen cats hit by cars. What I haven't seen is a cat with an arrow in it, especially not in the way it was put in."

Later that night, Guardian Veterinary Care removed the arrow and, the following day, Merida received exploratory surgery and was vaccinated and spayed.

"We had to get a huge crate to take her to get the arrow out because of how far the arrow was sticking put," Hazel said.

Hazel said the arrow was shot from an AirJavelin, which is a CO2-powered gun that looks like a rifle.

"It was a practice arrow, so the blunt tip actually helped save this sweet girl," she said. "Rather than piercing her internal organs, it moved them to the side. During exploratory surgery this morning, they found zero damage. That's one lucky kitten!"

In the end, the only injury Merida sustained was mild tearing in her leg muscle.

"She's recovering," Hazel said. "She can't use the one leg very well, but she's doing her darnedest to."

Despite the good news, Hazel is convinced what happened to Merida wasn't an accident.

"This was done to this kitten on purpose," she said, describing it as the first incidence of "blatant abuse to this level" that she's ever seen.

"The way it was positioned, somebody would have had to shoot this down at her," she said. "It wouldn't have been from far away because of that angle."

Additionally, only three weeks prior, a McMinnville resident filed a police report claiming that she saw children shooting rats with a bow and arrow on Ninth and Galloway streets, a block away from where Merida was injured.

"Now a kitten shows up with an arrow in it," she said. "The math adds up."

There is no excuse for this behavior in Hazel's eyes.

"This is the sweetest kitten in the world," she said. "There's nothing she could have done to those kids that warrants anything like that. She probably doesn't have a mean bone in her body because I definitely haven't seen it."

Hazel said she expects repeat offenses.

"This type of behavior in a lot of situations doesn't stop there, and this particular situation has escalated from rodents to now a cat in less than a month," she said. "And who's to say what is next or who is next?"

Hazel has filed a police report and said McMinnville officers are investigating.

"They don't know if they can find the people, because how do you find them without having any information about when it took place or a rough description?" she said, adding that "they're going to do all they can."

Hazel also contacted several local media outlets in hopes that spreading the word will help with the investigation.

"We want people to keep an eye out in that area because this isn't the last time that this will occur, not for these people, not for who did this," she said. "This doesn't just work like that normally."

School resource officers in the area have also been notified and will be on the lookout for any students bragging to their peers or sharing pictures or videos of the incident.

"If anyone gets word of it, they're the ones to know," Hazel said.

Merida has since been placed with a foster family, where she will stay for a minimum of 30 days before being put up for adoption.

To help fund Merida's care, venmo hazelshouse or paypal This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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