A photo collage chronicles Sparky, previously known as "Pontiac" before his injuries, and following. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
A view of one of the photos of Sparky taken on April 5, after being admitted to the Andover Animal Hospital. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Sparky's whiskers, which had previously been burned, are returning to Sparky's face. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Sparky places his paws on the shoulders of new owner, Carol O'Neill, appearing to give her a hug. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Sparky the cat, who had been severely burned through an act of abuse by an unknown perpetrator. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Sparky's paw, which had to nearly been amputated, now healed but still with a scar. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Carol O'Neill, the employee of the Andover Animal Hospital, who adopted Sparky. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Dr. Harvey Hummel removing the last of Sparky's stitches from his ear. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
A view of Sparky's ear, with the last of the sutures on his body prior to removal. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Dr. Harvey Hummel with Sparky in the examining room. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Sparky calmly sits on the examining room table. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
A Second Chance For Sparky
Wednesday, June 27, 2012 • 11:57pm
ANDOVER TOWNSHIP, NJ – Just shy of three months to the day Sparky the cat was rushed into the Andover Animal Hospital with severe burns all over his body, the last of his stitches was removed from his left ear yesterday, which had been so severely burned, it was nearly torn away from his body.
It is hard to fathom that the very snuggly cat, who spent much of our interview rubbing his face against and putting his paws around the neck his newly adopted family member, Carol O’Neill, a Veterinary Receptionist at the hospital, was steps away from death.
“He was such a nice cat, after a human did something like this to this sweet cat, I just wanted to make it up to him,” said O’Neill, as she gently stroked Sparky.
It is still unknown who tortured Sparky, a friendly cat who was known as “Pontiac” to his former owners.
Sparky had lived with his former owners in Andover Borough, until they owners had to move, and were unable to take Sparky due to relocating in a home that did not permit pets. The family entrusted Sparky to their neighbor, and he spent many days relaxing indoors, with an occasional run for fresh air and play in the yard.
On April 5, the former owners returned and learned Sparky had been missing for two days, and grew worried. It was unlike the cat to not come when called. A few hours later, Sparky was discovered writhing and crying in pain in a ball in rolled up carpeting, covered with third-degree burns. Most of his fur on his back was missing, his whiskers singed, and his two front legs so severely burned, leaving bone and tendons visible, it was feared one leg would have to be amputated.
Sparky showed signs of having been restrained with rope on his back legs to keep him in place during the severe act of abuse by burning, according to the testimony on the Facebook Page, “PontiacIsLoved”, created by his former owner (click here to view).
In spite of Sparky’s acute pain, the sociable demeanor still shone through when he first began undergoing treatment at the Andover Animal Hospital on the day he was found.
“He was docile, head-butting, he was really affectionate,” recalled O’Neill. “It was almost as if he was grateful to be found.”
For weeks, Sparky had to be anesthetized daily for hydrotherapy, and to have his tissue debrided to remove the dead tissue.
Manuka Honey, known for drawing out bacteria, was also applied to help Sparky’s burns heal.
He received laser therapy as well on a daily basis.
Much of Sparky’s fur has grown back, now with brownish in color in the spots where it had been previously missing. There are still patches of skin on the back of his legs where the fur has not grown back yet, and, it is uncertain if it ever will.
Sparky’s once singed whiskers are lengthening again.
Where the bone of his leg had been visible is now dramatically healed, although several of the tendons had to be removed from his leg due to the grave damage to them from the burns.
Sparky lost weight as a result of his injuries, but has returned to a weight of 10.5 pounds as of yesterday, reported O'Neill.
As Dr. Harvey Hummel began taking out the stitches from Sparky’s ear, Hummel said a hole that still remains in his ear might eventually fill in.
“If he was a feral cat, he might not have survived,” said Hummel, who considered Sparky’s coping skills, and docile manner as probably saving him.
After the public learned of Sparky’s plight, donations flooded in from concerned members of the public, reaching $7,000, with the additional $2,000 in medical costs the total his care tallied to donated by the Andover Animal Hospital.
O’Neill said Sparky, who is now officially an indoor cat, enjoys sitting on her couch, where he curiously watches squirrels and chipmunks from the window.
Sparky is officially released from all of his treatments, now only requiring his annual visit.
The NJ SPCA (New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) continues to investigate, and search for the perpetrator who abused Sparky. The group is offering a $1,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the abuser. To report Sparky’s abuser, call: (800) 582-5979, or file the report online by clicking here.