Local News

From a dumpster to a warm home

SEBRING - Even for Michele Bonilla, who has spent years rescuing and nurturing abandoned, abused and neglected animals back to health, the last two kittens she took in gave her a shock. An acquaintance had found the kittens in a tied plastic bag thrown into a Dumpster in Lake Placid and brought them to her, said Bonilla. "It was a blessing they were heard," she said. "People like that have no heart, no soul." Bonilla said breathing problems make it difficult for her to move around and be able to provide the care that she has for dozens of animals during the last few years.
Those two kittens she nurtured back to health likely will be the last she can take in because of health reasons. Judy Spiegel, president of the board of directors for the Humane Society of Highlands County, which received the kittens from Bonilla, said she has saved dozens of animals over the years. If Bonilla is unable to take in more animals in the future, it will be a big loss, she said. Spiegel said Bonilla has special way of nurturing animals and has saved some that others might have predicted could not have been saved. When Bonilla first received the kittens, she said, they "very clingy," and had to be fed with a bottle. "They were very infested with fleas," she added. "They were very weak from that." It took four days of bathing the kittens to eliminate the fleas, she said. As is her normal practice, she said, she kept and cared for the kittens until they were old enough to be spayed and neutered. Spiegel said the kittens may be ready for adoption in the next few days. Both she and Bonilla hope someone will adopt both at the same time. Who put the kittens into the Dumpster remains a mystery, as is the origin of many of the cats that Bonilla has taken in. She said she has had cases where someone has notified her about a box with kittens near a road. It has been less than 10 years since Bonilla began taking in the abandoned animals, which have included kittens, puppies and even baby raccoons. She started when someone found a kitten born with no eyes. "It still lives here with us," Bonilla added. That led to her providing foster care for at least 200 other cats over the years, she said. With Bonilla being unable to take care of more animals, the need will be all the greater, Spiegel said. "We have a lot of animals that come in with signs they've been abused," she said. "We see a lot of neglect." jmeisel@highlandstoday.com (863) 386-5834