ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico – Being friends with employees at an Albuquerque body shop nearly got Vespa the cat killed.
But thanks to several veterinarians and one employee who wasn’t afraid to tell police what his boss had done, the feline is expected to make a full recovery after being shot in the face twice with a rifle.
“He’s a super friendly cat and someone shoots him — that’s like…you are going to make me cry,” said Albuquerque Animal Welfare veterinarian Kathryn Stutzman-Rodriguez, who helped care for Vespa. “It’s so awful.”
The black-and-white cat was taken to the Albuquerque animal shelter last week after Sean Stanford, owner of a southeast body shop, shot the cat twice in the face, court records show.
Stanford has been charged with two felonies – extreme cruelty to animals and negligent use of a firearm. He has yet to be taken into custody.
Court records show that investigators tried to get a statement, but were unable to locate him. Instead, a warrant for his arrest was issued this past week.
Court records indicate that for the past few months the stray cat had been hanging out at the body shop and several employees became attached and started to feed it.
But, Stanford didn’t care for the cat and several weeks ago threatened to kill it, employees told police.
Last week, the body shop owner tried to make good on his promise, according to court records.
Employees told police Stanford came to the shop with a rifle and shot the cat twice in the face.
One employee said Stanford admitted to him that he shot the cat, according to court records.
An employee found the feline at a nearby business and took it to a veterinarian.
“He’s the real hero,” Stutzman-Rodriguez said.
No one was able to pay for the cat’s medical bills, and it ended up at the East Side Shelter, where workers called police and veterinarians worked to save its life.
Using the cat’s microchip, animal welfare employees were able to determine that the cat had run away from its owners two years ago. Not able to care for the cat now or pay thousands of dollars in medical bills, the owners had to surrender Vespa to the city.
Now city workers are hoping the cat can be adopted in two weeks.
So far Vespa has had two surgeries and will require at least one more.