Cat tossed into Cedar River recovering at Cedar Rapids Animal Care & Management, shelter says

Police rescued a cat that was dumped in the Cedar River on Monday, May 10, 2021, and later arrested an 86-year-old man for animal abuse.

CEDAR RAPIDS – According to Ronnie Schlabs, the shelter’s program manager, a 7-year-old orange tabby cat who was thrown into the Cedar River from Third Avenue Bridge on Monday is comfortably resting at Cedar Rapids Animal Care & Control.

Schlabs said the cat – named Julie Ann by its previous owner – spent most of its first day in the care of a veterinarian at a veterinarian’s office, where she was treated for hypothermia and screened for injuries.

“Because the water was so cold, her body temperature was very low when the police pulled her out of the river,” said Schlabs. “Her temperature was 7 degrees below normal, which is dangerous.”

The cat spent several hours at the vet, heated with a heating pad and snuggled into extra blankets until her temperature returned to normal. No other injuries or health concerns were identified.

“The vet found no broken bones or cuts – nothing like that,” said Schlabs. “It was just thrown into the deep end, which was the big trauma.”

The cat will now be housed at the Cedar Rapids Animal Care & Control facility, 7241 Washington View Parkway SW, in Cedar Rapids.

According to the Cedar Rapids Police Department, Linn County Sheriff’s officers and MPs responded on Third Avenue Bridge Monday morning after 911 received a report that a man had deliberately thrown a cat in the river.

When they arrived, officers saw the drenched cat trying to climb out of the water on May’s Island and pulled her out.

Lloyd Wallace Baird (Submitted Photo)

Later that afternoon, police said a man they identified as 86-year-old Lloyd Wallace Baird came into the lobby of Cedar Rapids Station and asked if officers had seen his cat, claiming the animal was from a pet carrier Jumped into the river on your own.

However, police said a video was recorded of the incident allegedly showing Baird leaning over the bridge railing and hanging the girder over the river with the door open. The man then shook the carrier and caused the cat into the river, police said.

Baird faces animal abuse charges.

He was arrested Wednesday, sent to Linn County Jail and later released after failing to appear in court.

Schlabs said Baird voluntarily turned the cat over to animal care and control and it will remain under the shelter’s care until it is ready for adoption, but he couldn’t give a timeframe when that might be.

“We want to make sure she is healthy and fully recovered from her ordeal,” he said. “And then there are some standard procedures that we need to go through to make sure that her veterinary care is up to date and she has some dental issues that we will address.”

The shelter will also monitor the cat’s behavior to see how it interacts with the shelter staff. So far, said Schlabs, Julie Ann’s temperament has been “shy but sweet”.

Anyone interested in a cat care donation can contact Cedar Rapids Animal Care & Control at (319) 286-5993.

Notes: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com.