by Dennis Dalman
Kylie Schwartz seems to have an inborn gift and a keen eye for finding abandoned or abused critters in desperate need.
While driving recently on CR 4 near Gilman in Benton County, the 18-year-old St. Joseph woman saw a Walmart plastic bag in field stubble at the edge of the road. The bag, she noticed, seemed to be moving across the ground. Instantly, Schwartz’s instinct and compassion kicked in. She pulled over to the road’s edge and walked toward the bag. Sure enough, a tiny leg and paw emerged from the tied bag. Unloosening the bag and peering in, Schwartz beheld a kitten meowing, shivering from cold, trembling with fear.
“It almost broke my heart,” she recalled. “I always watch for cardboard boxes along the road because some people dump off cats in boxes. I was shocked to see a kitten in a plastic bag, and I thought who in the heck would do such a cruel thing? I was just heartbroken because the kitten was so lovable.”
In another bag within the main bag was a small towel.
The kitten was mostly white with some brown-and-black streaks.
Schwartz unzipped her winter coat and placed the kitten snugly inside where it cuddled against her and purred happily.
She showed the kitten to her dog, Charlie, who was in the car. The 75-pound Aussie doodle, not very fond of cats, began to lick the kitten, as if knowing it was a precious find.
She then drove the kitten to Cassandra Schatz, a friend who lives near Foley and who Schwartz calls “Mom.” Schatz and her mother decided they should bring the kitten to the Boysen Animal Hospital in Waite Park. There the male kitten was checked and found to be in good shape. It was given a warm bath and was later neutered. Kylie named the critter “Chance.” The two women, Cassandra and her mother, then took Chance to Lucky Rescue, a no-kill pet shelter and fostering service in Sauk Rapids. Now in its warm and safe home at Lucky Rescue, lucky Chance is up for adoption.
Kylie, who works as a cashier at the Casey’s convenience store in St. Augusta, always keeps her eyes open for abandoned animals along roadways. She’s rescued two cats and a pit bull on the side of CR 4. It’s a road she drives often because her family farm is in that area near Golden Spike Road, the farm now occupied by a cousin.
The first cat she saved also went to Lucky’s Place for adoption; the second cat went to her grandmother who “fell in love at first sight” upon seeing the cat. The story about the pit bull had an amazingly happy ending.
“It was a winter night almost three years ago, and it was getting really cold when I saw the pit bull at the edge of the road,” Schwartz recalled. “I stopped and put it in the car and turned the heat way up. I was thinking maybe it was a runaway. Maybe somebody stole the dog for breeding purposes and then abandoned it.”
Back home, she posted a photo of the pit bull on 25 various websites, hoping someone would see and claim the friendly dog. For four days, there was no response. On the fifth day a woman called. It was, the woman thought, the pit bull that was stolen from her family three years ago.
The mother drove to Schwartz’s home and started crying when she saw the dog, who was whining and wagging its tail, clearly overjoyed to see the woman. Then the woman brought her little son from the car. When the dog saw the boy, it went bonkers with joy.
“And she was such a sweet dog, so gentle and not the least bit aggressive,” Schwartz said. “Pit bulls have such an unfair reputation.”
To this day, the woman sends periodic internet postings of the pit bull to Schwartz.
Not surprisingly, Schwartz intends to study to become an assistant veterinarian with a goal of someday owning her own no-kill rescue and fostering service, like Lucky’s Place or her other favorite rescue service – Ruff Start Rescue in Princeton.
Schwartz has tips for people who find abandoned animals: Keep them warm and safe, talk soothingly to them, consult a veterinarian if possible, post photos of the rescued critter on Facebook and bring the pets to a no-kill shelter.
“At those places the animals aren’t put in cages,” she said. “They can roam around after they’ve been vetted and vaccinated, and then foster homes are found for them before they are adopted. Another way to help is to donate to those places.”
- contributed photo
Chance the lucky rescued cat finds warmth and safety inside the coat of Kylie Schwartz, who rescued the critter from inside a plastic bag in the bitter cold.
- contributed photo
Kylie Schwartz, who loves animals, has rescued many of them in need, including horses that she trains for successful adoptions.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.