HELENA — When Dexter the cat arrived at the Lewis and Clark Humane Society in October, no one realized he was facing a life or death situation.
He was brought to the shelter as a stray—a family noticed he looked a little worse for wear, won his trust, and were able to get him to safety.
After a little time at LCHS, staff realized something was wrong with Dexter.
“We realized he was hurting,” LCHS cat program coordinator Regan Mack said. “He just wasn’t acting quite like a normal cat would act.”
According to a post on the LCHS Facebook page, a veterinarian took a look and realized Dexter had four fractured canine teeth.
“It would have been extremely painful,” Mack said. “Worse than a broken bone.”
Because cat’s jaws are so fragile, the dental work would require a specialist, and it would be costly. According to LCHS, they found a specialist in Bozeman who could do the work, and were quoted more than $4,000.
The procedure was a necessity in order for Dexter to survive, Mack said, otherwise he would be in too much pain.
“It was either do the stuff with his mouth and help him get comfortable, or euthanasia,” Mack said.
But $4,000 is a lot of money—and that is where the Helena community came in.
LCHS posted Dexter’s story and his surgical needs to Facebook, and donations started coming in. LCHS staff said the community raised enough money for Dexter’s surgery in less than 24 hours.
“We were able to pay for it with the help of the community, we wouldn’t have been able to do it without them,” Mack said. “The community members banded together and did what they needed to do for Dexter.”
Mack said Dexter’s surgery was a success, and it looks like he may have found his forever home with his foster family.
Dexter may be pain-free and happy now, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be more animals like him in need of care at the humane society. Mack said community support allows LCHS to be ready for any case that comes through their doors.
“It is the only reason we are able to do what we do, because we have that awesome community we live in,” Mack said.