ERNs help feral cats like Lazarus. He received a new lease on life when his surgeon and his team revived him after dying on the operating table.  Today he lives with a new loving family.  IFAW’s Emergency Relief Network (ERN) consists of organizations that share our mission to prepare communities to manage natural and man-made disasters. One such organization is People United for Rescue and Rehabilitation in West Virginia (P.U.R.R. WV).

Since joining the IFAW ERN, P.U.R.R. has worked directly with us on two large cat hoarding cases and through several severe storms including Hurricane Sandy. P.U.R.R. responders bring expertise in cat behavior, humane handling, sheltering, and emergency medicine at their in-sanctuary clinic.

They are committed to changing the way people, governments and animal organizations think about cats, shelter medicine, and trap-neuter-release programs (TNR). Executive Director Lorna Vincent recently shared the following story of Lazarus. –SW

On a particularly busy day at P.U.R.R. WV’s Dorothea’s Care Spay/Neuter Clinic, a volunteer brought in a young feral kitten who had been hit by a car.

He was elusive as young ferals so often are, but she was able to pick him up because his injuries had weakened him so severely.

We named him Jasper Petit-John.

That’s our rule; they all deserve a name.

He was in pain and was very afraid.

His heart raced so fast.

His breaths were shallow. Luckily, there were no broken bones, no obvious lacerations or bleeding.

Learn more:  Read why IFAW develops ERNs.

Drawing his blood to check for any of the dreaded diseases before further examination ensued, I whispered to Jasper that I’d love him and keep him safe, that he need not worry.

He then blinked, that soulful sign cats give to humans signaling they are ready to trust.  

The clinic volunteers cheered softly when the lab machine reported negative results.

Our staff veterinarian, Dr. Jacob Helmick, then examined Jasper and made the call to monitor and watch for internal injuries and signs of herniation and complications. Following intake protocols, he received vaccinations and treatments for parasites as well as pain treatments prescribed by the doctor to relax and comfort him.

Jasper relented to my caresses, enjoying the food he didn’t have to search for and the attention that he had never experienced. He purred and gave what sounded like a loud feral cry when he saw me enter the room.

It dawned on me: Jasper was trying to meow.

Cats born wild without experiencing human contact use vocalizations when communicating with each other but do not “meow” like domesticated cats.

Jasper was finding his voice.

We placed him in a small kennel where his movement could be limited and vitals monitored. His first 24 hours showed improved mobility and less pain signals, but we watched for internal distress. His feral meow greeted me and pleaded for attention whenever he saw me, melting my heart whenever I entered the clinic.   

Jasper’s vitals continued to improve…except for his breathing. Jasper was probably suffering from a diaphragmatic hernia and his lung function was compromised.

Dr. Helmick transferred Jasper to HART for Animals and staff there corroborated Dr. Helmick’s worst fears, that every major organ had pressed through Jasper’s herniated diaphragm and his lungs had been functioning at less than 20 percent.  

The emergency surgery proved difficult. Cauterization was necessary to stave off the copious amounts of blood that gushed from his organs, veins and arteries.

But his breathing slowed and his heart rate diminished, until there was no heartbeat anymore.

Dr. Helmick reluctantly stopped. He began suturing Jasper’s lifeless body together while the technicians all shed tears.

Then the doctor noticed little shallow breaths. Listening again to the kitten’s chest, he noted a very faint heartbeat.

At that moment Dr. Jennifer Barnard and the rest of the staff of HART staff jumped into action and helped Dr. Helmick revive little Jasper.

After surviving a trauma that should have been fatal, Jasper would still be in for a precarious recovery. But hours after surgery, he was able to sit up, respond, and lick Nutri-Cal from a tech’s finger.

The next morning he was able to walk and eat.

Jasper recovered at HART with minimal complications.

Jasper was renamed Lazarus and adopted by a loving family who cherish his every meow, his every blink… his every breath.  


Visit our program page to learn more about IFAW’s global ERNs. 

For more information on P.U.R.R. West Virginia, Inc. in Grafton WV, go to

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Article source: IFAW

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