116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A 7-year-old orange tabby cat that was tossed into the Cedar River on Monday from the Third Avenue Bridge is resting comfortably at Cedar Rapids Animal Care & Control, according to the shelter’s program manager, Ronnie Schlabs.
The cat, named Julie Ann by her former owner, spent most of her first day in the animal shelter’s care at a vet’s office, where she was treated for hypothermia and checked for injuries, according to Schlabs.
“Since the water was so cold, her body temperature was very low when police pulled her out of the river,” Schlabs said. “Her temperature was 7 degrees below normal, which is dangerous.”
The cat spent several hours at the vet being warmed with a heating pad and snuggled in extra blankets until her temperature returned to normal. No other injuries or health concerns were found.
“The vet didn’t find any broken bones or lacerations — nothing like that,” Schlabs said. “It was just being thrown into cold water that was the big trauma.”
The cat is now being housed at the Cedar Rapids Animal Care & Control facility, 7241 Washington View Parkway SW, in Cedar Rapids.
According to the Cedar Rapids Police Department, officers and Linn County sheriff’s deputies responded to the Third Avenue Bridge on Monday morning after 911 received a report that a man intentionally dumped a cat into the river.
When they arrived, officers saw the soaked cat trying to climb out of the water on May’s Island, and pulled her out.
Later that afternoon, police said a man they identified as 86-year-old Lloyd Wallace Baird came to the lobby of the Cedar Rapids station and asked if officers had seen his cat, claiming the animal had jumped out of a pet carrier and into the river on its own.
However, police said video of the incident was obtained that showed Baird leaning over the bridge railing and hanging the carrier over the river with the door open and facing down. The man shook the carrier, causing the cat out and into the river, police said.
Baird faces a charge of animal abuse.
He was arrested Wednesday, taken to Linn County Jail and later released after waiving a first court appearance.
Schlabs said Baird voluntarily surrendered the cat to Animal Care & Control. She will remain under the shelter’s care until she is ready to be adopted, but Schlabs was unable to give a time frame as to when that might be.
“We want to make sure she’s healthy and fully recovered from her ordeal,” he said. “And then there are some standard procedures we need to go through as far as making sure her veterinary care is up to date and she does have some dental issues that we will get taken care of.”
The shelter also will observe the cat’s behavior to see how she interacts with shelter staff. So far, Schlabs said, Julie Ann’s temperament has been “shy but sweet.”
Anyone interested in donating to the cat’s care can contact Cedar Rapids Animal Care & Control at (319) 286-5993.
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