Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Amos the Cat Saved by Two Special Women

Everyone should have a friend like Julie Solomon Bame.

We met in 1985.

There are many stories, some frightening, all funny that I could share to demonstrate her unique value. There’s her now-famous rendition of “I Shot the Sheriff” in high school, with mixed-up lyrics and silly string, that led one particular police officer to rethink his life choices.

Veterinarian Kelly Saporito with a healthy Amos the cat.

Or the time we marched on Washington for women’s rights in college and she refused to cut out early when I wanted to explore the city.

“We are here to raise hell,” she reminded me. “Not sightsee.”

In some ways we are a lot alike. We’re both loud and walk around like we own the place. No one wants to sit near us in movie theaters because we talk. A lot.

In some ways we are quite different. She leaves me after a weekend together feeling refreshed from healthy food and fewer cocktails than she’s had since junior high. I leave the weekend feeling like it’ll be a month before I’m allowed back into Weight Watchers or AA.

But those differences never seem to get in the way of our friendship. I support her when she’s arguing a moot point and she supports me when I’m biting off almost more than I can chew and audaciously complaining about it.

I’m lucky to have her.

But I’m not the only one.

Julie coordinates health care for the homeless in Broward County. She’s been doing this thankless job for more than 15 years. Before that? She coordinated health care for AIDS patients in Tampa. If Julie finds someone sick and in need of care, she does what it takes, sometimes disregarding her own safety, to get the help they need.

In her spare time, she coordinates health care for animals, too.

Recently, Julie’s co-worker mentioned a sad sight. The woman lives in a rough part of town. She had seen a stray cat that appeared to have been hit by a car. It looked like it was missing an eye and limping. Julie insisted this woman find the cat immediately and get it to animal control.

The woman was terrified. The cat looked like something out of Pet Sematary.

Julie doesn’t do “terrified.”

She waited a few hours. With characteristic humor, Julie threatened to call her co-worker every five minutes and meow into the phone if she didn’t find that cat.

Sounds like something she’d do.

At the end of the day, Julie retrieved an extra blanket she keeps in her trunk for emergencies (in South Florida…in case someone gets cold…) and drove into the woman’s slightly dangerous neighborhood, to find the cat herself.

Julie found pockets of men, standing on street corners. Rolling down her car window, she’d flash that street-savvy smile, earned from years of helping our state’s toughest residents, and ask if they’d seen her cat.

That’s right. It had become her cat.

She described the animal and talked to the men about their own lives, dispensing opinions and suggestions free of charge. I watched her do this in nightclubs during the 90s. It’s pretty impressive how she never got shot.

After a few hours, her co-worker called and said she was scaring the neighbors.

Julie. Scared them.

Sounds like something she’d do.

Finally, a man running down the street yelled to Julie in her car.

“Hey, lady!” he screamed. “I found your cat!”

Julie grabbed the blanket, retrieved a FAMOUS AMOS box from her coworker and followed the guy behind an old, abandoned home.

There was the cat.

Severely hurt and not able to run away, the cat allowed Julie to gently scoop it into the box while she whispered kind and loving words so it wouldn’t be scared.

Like that one time with me at Mardi Gras, but that’s another column for another time.

The cat smelled awful, like death, but Julie had smelled worse. Much worse. She drove the cat to Coco-Park Animal Hospital and offered to pay for him to be put down humanely. Dr. Kelly Saporito examined the cat and had some good news.

He may have smelled like death, but he wasn’t in need of euthanasia. He had no fractures. He wasn’t missing an eye. Instead, the cat suffered from severe mange and had lost most of its hair. He had several infections and rotting flesh. Like most of Julie’s clients, he needed love, care and attention.

Dr. Saporito and her employees named the cat Amos and spent over a month nursing him back to health.

Everyone should have a vet like Dr. Saporito.

Julie offered to pay for Amos and his costly medical bills, but Dr. Saporito wouldn’t hear of it. She paid for everything herself, including his neutering, and found a home for Amos.

He will be adopted when he is fully healed. Amos will go to a loving family with two other cats with the same autoimmune disorder. Most vets won’t take in strays unless someone pays for it. Dr. Saporito must have a pretty big heart, too.

Like responds to like, I guess.

Amos will live a much better life for having known Julie.

He’s not alone.

Catherine Durkin Robinson co-parents twin sons, organizes families for political purposes, writes syndicated columns, mentors kids, runs a few races and investigates missing socks. Follow her on Twitter: @cdurkinrobinson. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

This piece was reprinted by the Columbia County Observer with permission or license.

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