A one-year-old orange tabby named Wookie is at home now after his owner said he was shot by a pellet gun Tuesday afternoon.
Patricia Eberley told Global News the alleged shooting happened between 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the northwest Calgary community of North Haven.
According to Eberley, Wookie had been outside for about 90 minutes when he came inside the house and curled up on his cat bed.
Eberley said she had just left the house after Wookie’s return when her daughter called to say she better come back because Wookie was having trouble standing up.
Eberley described looking at the cat’s side and seeing blood and what looked like a small hole. She said she assumed Wookie had just been poked with something, but when his breathing became laboured, she got more concerned and took him to the emergency vet clinic nearby.
The vet suggested they do an X-ray because the hole looked more like a puncture wound. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, Eberley had to leave her cat at the clinic.
A short time later, Eberley said she got a phone call from the vet.
“This is the worst-case scenario,” the vet said, according to Eberley. “Your cat has been shot.”
It was then that Wookie’s owner was given two choices: euthanize Wookie or allow him to be transferred to another clinic that could offer more specialized care.
“I had to ask the hard question of what does emergency care cost?” said Eberley, who works in an industry that has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said she was initially quoted a minimum additional cost of $5,500, which is money she just does not have right now.
Eberley said she called her son Josh in tears and explained how expensive it would be to save Wookie, and that she needed to call the vet back with a decision.
According to Eberley, her son came up with an idea.
“Listen, mom,” he said, according to Eberley, “let’s give him a chance.
“Just take him to emergency care. And let me start a GoFundMe page.”
She agreed and Josh started the GoFundMe page with an initial goal of $6,000 based on the quotes from the first vet clinic.
Eberley’s daughter Jenna posted a video on TikTok explaining what had happened. Josh shared the story on Twitter, and it was also shared on Facebook.
“And then the GoFundMe page exploded. It just exploded,” said Eberley.
Wookie was transferred to the second clinic with a plan to see if a surgeon could remove what looked like a BB from Wookie’s lung.
According to tweets from Eberley’s son, the more the vets learned about Wookie’s condition, the more expensive the potential treatment became. An estimate of the potential treatment costs from the second clinic was shared with Global Calgary and totalled just under $12,000.
Eberley told Global Calgary her family contacted the Calgary Police Service (CPS) to report that her cat had been shot, and an officer went to the clinic to look at the X-ray. That is when they discovered Wookie had actually been shot by a pellet gun, which has larger ammunition and is a weapon with higher velocity.
Global News verified with CPS a police report has been filed and the matter is considered a cruelty to an animal offence. Police asked anyone with information to please contact them at 403-266-1234.
Wookie was scheduled to have surgery Thursday morning, but according to Eberley, the vet determined her cat had stabilized, which was unexpected given he was initially in the ICU.
She said the vet explained that removing something from Wookie’s lung at this point was too risky, and given his improvement, they decided to wait and see if Wookie’s body can create scar tissue around the pellet, allowing him to live with the pellet inside of him.
As of Thursday evening, Wookie was back at home on antibiotics and pain medication and barring any complications, the cat will be reassessed in two weeks to see if the pellet has moved.
Eberley said the vet bills so far have totalled around $3,000. The GoFundMe page ended up raising just over $8,700 before they found out Wookie would not need surgery yet. Donations came in from as far away as Australia, something that brought Eberley to tears.
“It’s really humbling,” she said. “COVID(-19)’s crazy. We are all isolated and we have really small bubbles. But these people I don’t know. And some I do know.
“They were all there saying, ‘I got you.’”
Eberley said her family plans to see if Wookie will need surgery after all, and if he does not, whatever money she has left over will be donated to help other animals in need.
She was emotional as she expressed her gratitude to the vet clinic staff who helped Wookie. She shared a video they sent her of Wookie in the clinic.
Eberley said she was even more touched by the number of people who stepped up to try to save her cat’s life.
“It’s incredible,” she said. “It’s beyond incredible. I’m very humbled.”