Community Rallies to Help Parks & Rec Employee Save Stray Cat

Community Rallies to Help Parks & Rec Employee Save Stray Cat

The Occoquan District truly is a remarkable place, as the events of the last 24 hours demonstrate. Over a series of Facebook posts, we’ve seen community spirit outpour in an effort to save a special community member: a stray cat found in Lake Ridge Park. Hover on the pictures below to read this remarkable tale.

Frank Ellinger is a seasonal worker with Prince William County, serving as a caretaker at Lake Ridge Park. “I was picking up litter along the trail when I saw her in a pile of leaves. I knew something was wrong because when I walked up to her she didn’t move,” said Frank of the stray cat that he found while making park rounds the other day. “I talked to her and pet her and she meowed at me very sadly.”

“I was wearing two shirts, so I took off my work shirt, wrapped her up in it and took her to the park office,” said Frank, adding that the cat was docile and quiet the entire time.

Frank could see the cat was emaciated and exhausted. He went to Dillingham Square’s Pet Nutrition Center for highly nutritious wet food to give her. “I tried to give her some of it but I had to spoon feed her,” he said, adding that she took very little. 

Hoping to quickly find the owner, Frank posted about the cat on the “All Things Lake Ridge” Facebook page. Creator Stephanie Wardwell, a local realtor,  said she’d started the group “so people in the community had a place to ask questions & help each other out. It was really fantastic when everyone came together to help save this beautiful cat.”

The community responded right away with advice for saving the cat, as Frank continued to describe her condition. Soon he realized that the calico needed immediate medical attention and took her to Pets R Family in Lake Ridge.

Along the way something remarkable happened, the community banded together to tackle the medical expenses and an over $500 bill…Became a less than $100 bill, helping Frank cover these unexpected expenses and ensuring the cat could continue to receive critical, on-going care.

Wrote Frank, “I’m blown away by how much everyone has contributed to helping this kitty. Thank you all so much!” Frank invited the community to help him name the frail cat. The consensus was quick and unanimous: Hope. 

Sadly, Frank’s last update noted that despite the best of veterinary care, Hope did not make it. Her kidneys were simply too weak. However, rather than passing alone and frightened on the side of a trail, she did so without pain and surrounded by the caring staff of Pets R, thanks to the residents of the Occoquan District and Frank Ellinger, a caretaker in all senses of the word.

While this story does not have the ending for which we all hoped, it is an inspirational reminder of how our community will pull together to lend a helping hand. That spirit of giving makes the Occoquan District truly special! To learn more about how you can help other stray animals in Prince William, visit the local SPCA chapter online.