Animal rescuers hoped to save a tiger calico cat found wandering in Hanover with a massive head wound and wire twisted tightly around her neck.

But the cat, dubbed Faith, suffered injuries too profound to heal — injuries that were intentionally inflicted by humans, her rescuers said.

"We did all we could," said Ann Behrendt, president of Heavenly Paws Animal Shelter, based in North Codorus Township. "At least she died loved, warm and peacefully."

Heavenly Paws volunteer Christina Carroll is the person who rescued Faith, named her and took her to Paws Animal Hospital in Hanover.

"I hope justice can be served for Faith," she said.

Deliberate torture: A necropsy — which is an animal autopsy — at the York County SPCA determined Faith suffered several skull fractures and cracks, caused by repeated blunt-force trauma, according to SPCA Executive Director Melissa Smith.

"There were some lacerations on the head, too," she said.

The SPCA veterinarian who performed the necropsy said the head wounds could have been caused by several strikes from a hammer, or something akin to a hammer, Smith said.

"The wire combined with the head trauma does indicate to us there was foul play," she said.

The SPCA's Humane Society police officer is investigating and will file misdemeanor animal-cruelty charges against those responsible, if the abuser or abusers can be identified, Smith said.

What happened: Carroll, who has volunteered with Heavenly Paws for about 1½ years, received a call Dec. 20 from someone an acquaintance who saw Faith wandering in the area of Ruth Avenue, not far from the intersection of Broadway.

She picked up the cat, but was unable to cut the wire that was tightly twisted around Faith's neck. The wire was so tight the cat had trouble swallowing and breathing, according to Behrendt.

"You could barely get your pinky finger under the wire," Carroll said. "I took her to the Penn Township Fire Department and they cut the wire off for me."

From there, Carroll drove Faith to Paws Animal Hospital in Hanover, where they prescribed antibiotics and sent her back home with Carroll, but the cat's condition only deteriorated.

"She was pacing a lot ... walking in circles," Carroll said, including repeatedly walking through her food and water bowls. "In my heart I knew she wasn't going to get better."

Euthanized: The next day, New Year's Eve, Carroll took Faith back to the animal hospital, where the extent of Faith's brain injuries were determined.

"They euthanized her," Carroll said. "I'm glad at least that she wasn't just out wandering the streets."

Heavenly Paws asked the York County SPCA to perform the necropsy and investigate the cruelty, according to Smith, who said the two nonprofit agencies have a working relationship.

Smith said the difficult job of saving abused animals is made a bit easier for rescuers when the animals survive and find new homes.

"That's the light at the end of the tunnel," she said. "That's the thing that keeps us going."

Faith was Carroll's first rescue.

"It's very difficult," the 22-year-old Littlestown resident said of the outcome. Still, she intends to keep volunteering, saying people need to "step up, because yours might be the only voice" for the animals.

Who owned Faith? Faith had no microchip and no identification tag, Smith said. She was not underweight and appeared not to have been spayed.

But Behrendt said she was friendly, which seems to indicate Faith was someone's pet.

"This is something that, sadly, we're seeing so often," Behrendt said of cat cruelty. "We just hope to get justice for this cat, to find out who did it."

Heavenly Paws is a no-kill, all-volunteer organization that helps between 400 and 600 cats a year and has been in operation since 2004. It has cats available for adoption at pet stores around the county, including at Cape Horn Pets near Red Lion, Petco in West Manchester Township, and Pet Valu stores in Queensgate Towne Center and in Shrewsbury Commons, Behrendt said.

For more information about Heavenly Paws, visit

Anyone with information about who owned Faith or who is responsible for her death is urged to call Humane Society Police Officer Nicole Lawrence at (717) 764-6109, ext. 127, and leave a message.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at

Read or Share this story: