The Air Force is helping even the smallest of creatures in need.
On the flightline in the heat a noise that sounded like meowing attracted the attention of several airmen working there. The sound emerged from the unit’s Chevrolet.
After the airmen popped open the hood of the truck and began searching, a kitten jumped out and scampered off.
Upon additional searching, the six airmen found nothing else and drove to the flightline dinning facility. However, after they finished eating and tried starting the truck again they discovered something dreadful, said Senior Airman James Helmic.
“When we turned it on again we felt the engine pull and heard a thump,” He said. “When we opened the hood again [a kitten] was laying on the ground underneath it. She was kind of mangled and not looking too well.”
The kitten, who weighs approximately four pounds, seven ounces and is now called Mila, had been critically wounded by the engine and required immediate medical care.
“She had spent over an hour inside of the engine and was in terrible condition once she was spit out,” said Helmic’s wife, Katharina Helmic, 20th Maintenance Operation Squadron aircraft scheduler and a native of Omaha, Neb. “I thought she was going to die.”
“She had a large bleeding head wound, the tip of her nose had been severed, her eyes were dilated and out of focus, her breathing was labored, her fur was matted with blood, and worst of all she could only drag herself with her front legs. Her back legs didn’t seem to work at all. She also had roundworm and a coccidian [infection] which is microscopic parasites that attack the inner-intestines, causes brain inflammation and could have ultimately killed her,” she continued.
Mila was rushed to Cheatham Animal Clinic in Columbia, S.C., for emergency care that took about eight hours.
“When we got there the [vets] had to stabilize her. Then they had to pump a little bit of blood out of her lungs and seal up her lacerations,” Helmic said. “She also had a head injury and brain swelling.”
After further review, it was discovered that Mila’s leg was broken in three places.
“The next day, once our primary clinic opened, we took her for amputation surgery,” added Helmic.
In total, Mila’s veterinary bills cost more than $2,000. However, one month after the accident, $3,000 was raised on Indiegogo.com/operationsavemila.
Seventy-three people made donations to the kitten ranging from $3 to $500. Many decided to leave comments and say their thanks to the Helmic family.
Mila also gets along with the three dogs and the cat the Helmic family had rescued over the years, Helmic said. They loved her immediately though she was terrified of them at first. Now they all get along great. Madeline, a Great Dane, is very maternal and thinks of Mila as her puppy.
“She is just happy to be fed and loved and cared for. I think she is doing just fine,” Katharina said.
Story by Airman 1st Class Krystal Jeffers
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DoD website.