this is essentially about the time Julie and I smuggled two cats on an international flight.
and by cats I mean two very sick kittens.
roughly 12 hours after we were harassed by the local ‘police’, we decided to go to the local topless beach and drink enough daiquiris for the previous events of the night before to be funny instead of borderline horrifying.
we had just started to kind of giggle about it when Jackie’s phone rang. She does volunteer work for the animal rescue there and it was the vet’s office calling to tell her that someone had reported meowing from an abandoned part of the island close to the beach where some houses had burned down. they said it was coming from a box.
we found the house…really it was just a charred shell. the weeds were overgrown, vines were everywhere, trash was strewn about. it had rained that morning and steam was just curling up off the ground in ribbons. I went inside looking for boxes, stepping over broken glass and pieces of furniture while Jackie and Julie opened any boxes they found around the rest of the property.
we couldn’t find it.
we didn’t hear anything.
the three of us stood there for a minute, wondering what we should do.
we saw it at the same time.
a box at the end of the dirt road, leaning against a garbage can.
it was closed, sagging, wet and filthy.
Julie opened it and I thought she was going to cry.
inside the box were three kittens, just a few days old. they were lumped into a corner clawing over each other looking for food and trying to get away from the black water at the bottom of the box.
and the smell.
one of the kittens was dead. the other two were sick and deformed.
I gagged, Julie was still on the verge of tears and Jackie looked unfathomably upset, outraged.
they cried in the car the whole bumpy way to the vet. their eyes were crusted shut and filled with yellow. their back legs were splayed out behind them, didn’t bend and didn’t work. they drug themselves forward with their front paws and their back legs just lifelessly followed behind them. they were starving.
we gave them baths, soaked them in some kind of disinfectant. the vet put something in their eyes for the infection and we feed them bottles of milk with a tiny dropper. we taped their legs so that they might in time be able to use them. we named them Phillipe and Marigot.
but there was nowhere for them to go, especially needing around the clock care like that, except for Jackie’s house. We brought them with us and kept them in the bathroom. after a few days their eyes cleared up and they started going to the bathroom on their own and their legs started to get better with all of the taping and reshaping. but the end of the week was coming and they couldn’t stay at Jackie’s house and they couldn’t stay with the vet. no one wanted them.
so it was decided we would take them with us and find them a home in florida.
Jackie, being a counselor, wrote a letter stating that the kittens were ‘emotional support’ animals…because it’s totally legal to have them on board. however. Jackie isn’t the right kind of counselor and those were the wrong kind of kittens…and they were quite obviously not really emotionally supporting either one of us. we knew if we followed protocol, it was never going to happen.
so we didn’t.
the day of the flight, we had the vet confirm they weren’t sick anymore and/or harboring any kind of dangerous diseases. then we stuck them in a big purse, put our letters in our pockets and got on the plane. security in st. maarten thought they were cute and didn’t really seem to give a shit. we were almost to miami when they woke up to eat and we really had no choice but to take them out of the bag and give them their bottles.
CUE 150 OLD PEOPLE FREAKING THE FUCK OUT.
At first everyone around us got kind of awkward and shifty. Then the whispers started. Then the yelling started. One man screamed at me for a good 10 minutes about terrorism while I tried to explain that they were for ‘emotional support.’ By then everyone was standing, the men were all yelling at us, and the women were all glaring and saying rude things under their breath.
The flight attendant was really really mad. She asked to see our paperwork, so we showed her our signed letter which shut her up for the rest of the flight. but that sneaky little concubine had notified someone at the airport and they were waiting for us when we got off the plane. Their rep followed us around until we got to customs/security when he nabbed us and took us back to a scary little room with some police officers and he was asking to see our documentation and being very rude. he said “emotional support? oh really.” he was getting smug. he paused….then “WHY DIDN’T YOU HAVE THEM ON THE FLIGHT TO ST. MAARTEN?!?”
It was obvious he thought he’d gotten one over on us and that we were going to be arrested.
he, however, was wrong.
“we had panic attacks on the flight over. that’s why we saw a counselor before we left who recommended adopting an emotional support animal.”
We’d planned for this.
While Julie was answering all of his questions, the cops were playing with the kittens, telling us how awesome it was that we saved their lives.
The spirit airlines rep asked if we were going to be handcuffed.
The cops laughed out loud.
and we went about our merry way.
* also, I feel it’s relevant to the story that I HATE cats. I am allergic to them and they gross me out. But when you find abandoned half-dead baby anythings, you’re going to help. and we found them a home and they got to stay together. and their legs ended up just fine.
this is piper. she was a puppy at the vet’s office that I went and visited almost every day we were there. Apparently in St. Maarten there’s a massive over population of strays and no one wants to adopt puppies – just full grown guard dogs. and the locals are awful to the strays – we saw a puppy at the vet that someone had poured acid all over and another one with severe burns from someone setting it on fire. one day on the beach a woman ran up and started kicking an old stray that was walking down by the water.
so I had found piper and loved piper and wanted to bring her home.
but it never worked out and I cried several times after we left thinking about her wandering the streets getting kicked and terrorized and being hungry.
kind of a sore subject.
oh yeah. and I was pregnant the whole time and didn’t know it yet.
so…that was fun.