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Wild ride puts Rio Linda cat on awards list

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 2B
Last Modified: Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 - 10:31 am

A Rio Linda cat lost a tail and probably one of his nine lives in June during a 12-mile trip to Carmichael in an automobile engine compartment.

Now, Pebbles is vying for the 2012 Hambone Award, an honor reserved for pets that overcome health obstacles after unusual accidents. He is the June nominee for the award.

The award, handed out by VPI Pet Insurance, is named after a dog that became locked in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham before being rescued. He recovered after a mild case of hypothermia.

The tale of Pebbles is not so happy. It all started when the cat somehow got into the engine compartment of a vehicle near his Rio Linda home on June 3.

He was found in a Carmichael shed the next evening by a still-nameless good Samaritan who dropped him off at an emergency veterinarian. The vet stabilized the animal, which had a jaw broken in several spots and deep lacerations.

Through Pebbles' implanted microchip, the veterinarian contacted owner Leann Munro, a tax preparer and bookkeeper.

"He wasn't looking very good," said Munro, who took him to Pebbles' regular vet, Tammy A. Hendrie.

Hendrie sent the feline home for rest before treating the jaw.

"I thought he was dying," said Munro, who debated whether she was doing the right thing in not putting the suffering feline to sleep.

Still, each day, Munro took Pebbles to the veterinarian until he was strong enough. Finally, Pebbles' jaw was wired, his deep cuts sutured and his tale bobbed because its end was "dead" after being caught in a fan belt or burned in his wild ride to Carmichael.

The amputation required Pebbles to get used to life without the natural rudder.

"When we brought him home, the poor guy couldn't walk because his balance was wrong," said Munro. "But pretty soon he was OK."

Pebbles, who is a bit scrawny, is still on the mend, said Munro.

Munro always knew she had one tough cat. The only thing that bothers the 4-year-old feline is when her four dogs start licking him too much, she said.

The plight of Pebbles came to the attention of VPI when Munro called the pet insurance carrier with a question. Her vet bill, which is covered by the insurer, is around $3,750.

He is up against some tough competition for the annual Hambone award. Among this year's nominees are a Labrador puppy that crashed into a big aquarium, a dachshund that tussled with a muskrat, and a pot-bellied pig that overdosed on ibuprofen, acetaminophen, acid reflux pills and beta blockers.

The winner, to be chosen by the public, will represent the most unusual claim among the monthly nominees. To read about other nominees, go to vpihamboneaward.com.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Bill Lindelof



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