Jessie was a regal lady, the color of a Russian Blue but with some Maine Coon in her.
She had some “great big” long whiskers.
“She was just a beautiful cat,” said Wendell Hodge of the kitten his wife Cindy brought home four years ago when someone dropped her off at Sinking Fork Elementary School in Hopkinsville where Cindy had been a teacher.
Jessie died on Aug. 12, almost two months after she escaped from the couple’s camper as they were preparing to leave on vacation.
Severely dehydrated and malnourished, she had lost more than seven pounds during the weeks that she had been gone from home.
A trip to the vet brought hope.
Jesse gained a pound, was eating and sitting up. But she suffered a stroke, and Wendell and Cindy made the decision to put her down.
“When I pulled back her blanket and saw how hard her little body was struggling to breathe, enough was enough!” Wendell Hodge recalled of those last moments with her.
A resident of Trigg County, Wendell has gone on to put pen to paper and record his treasured pet’s last weeks, hoping “Jessie’s Story” will help other pet owners so they don’t lose their pets in a similar manner.
“Please, I beg of you, if you see an animal that needs help or looks lost, please help it out,” Wendell Hodge writes in his ode to Jessie.
“Take it to the vet, call animal control, call someone, call your neighbor,” he continues. “Please don’t just let it suffer. Please do something. Please don’t do nothing.”
Hodge had posted signs about the couple’s lost cat, and he’d contacted animal control.
But few called about Jessie, he said.
He says it’s important that people do something if they see an animal in need.
Animal control in Trigg County can be reached by calling 270-522-8888, and Hodge urges people to call to let someone know they’ve seen an animal in distress.
Trigg County Judge-Executive Hollis Alexander says some indicators residents can look for when considering a call to animal control are whether the animal looks like it’s starving or if it’s been dumped in the area.
If an animal has stayed in the same place for two or three days, it may be a stray, he said.
Alexander cautioned that there’s no leash law in the county, and not every animal seen walking about the community may be a stray.
There is a leash law for dogs in the city.
“I’m not trying to discourage people from calling in, but I’m trying to discourage people from over-calling animal control,” said the judge, who notes that people should look for signs that the animal has not been properly cared for or is a stray when they do call.
Alexander also noted that if a resident is in doubt and has a concern about an animal then he or she should call animal control and let the local officer determine the animal’s needs.
In Trigg County, Aubrey Lasseter is the current animal control officer.
The judge-executive said an animal that is picked up by Lasseter will be taken to the Christian County Animal Shelter in Hopkinsville if it has no indicators like a collar or name tag.
The Hopkinsville facility serves Trigg County.
Alexander said the shelter may have a time limit for keeping the animal and may euthanize it if no one comes to claim the animal.
He urged that the main thing is for residents to keep a close eye out for their pets.
Hodge hopes his story about Jessie will also inspire neighbors to watch out for each other’s pets. If you see a cat or any animal in need, do something to help the animal, he says.
“It has ripped our hearts out of our chests, and it hurts so bad,” Hodge wrote of the loss of his family’s pet. “You can’t imagine how many tears have been shed for Jessie.”
Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or firstname.lastname@example.org.