UPDATE! September 14, 2016 It’s Official, Bart is OURS!
After 20 months in our care, countless hours of paperwork, and millions of prayers and well-wishes from across the world, we finally have been legally granted ownership of Bart the Miracle Cat to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay! But he was only ours for a few hours as his foster family prepared to make his place in their home permanent. At 1:00pm Wednesday, September 14th at our shelter we celebrated the end of the custody battle and, consequently, his adoption, with a “Gotcha Day” party (“Gotcha Days” are adoption birthdays in the animal welfare world).
In January 2015 Bart became an internet sensation after being hit by a car, buried alive, and clawing his way out of his grave. He ended up at our animal hospital where we preformed extensive surgery to repair his broken jaw, remove his eye, and nurse him back to strength and health. The questionable circumstances surrounding his injuries led us to fight for his custody so that we could find him a loving home. To many he became known as “Zombie Cat” but to us he’s always been nothing short of a miracle. Not because we believe he rose from the dead, but because his gentle spirit, will to survive, and resilience in the face of extreme trauma embody all that we love and admire about animals. He is truly an ambassador for second chances and continues to inspire people the world over. We love you, Bart, always and forever.
UPDATE! April 24, 2016 We know you haven’t heard from Bart in awhile, but he is still doing GREAT! In fact, he recently got visits from a couple of his fans. First, he and this special young lady really bonded when she was with us for Critter Camp. When he saw her last week he got so excited and rolled right over so that she could pet him. Second, this wonderful lady has been following his story since the beginning and came by to see how healthy and happy he has become. He was happy to show her the ropes of life at HSTB (sleep, eat, play, snuggle, repeat). And, finally, we wanted you to see how exhausting the celebrity life can be; here is Bart mid-yawn and ready for a nap after his morning of socializing
UPDATE! February 23, 2016 Bart really is the sweetest thing but, every once in awhile, the cattitude comes out! While being visited by a friend, Bart promptly plopped on top of the toy basket so that the curious interloper would not have access. Silly kitty, we love you!
UPDATE! January 13, 2016 See how Bart is doing nearly one year after being hit by a car, buried alive, and clawing from his grave! Thanks to FOX 13 News for shooting the footage.
UPDATE! January 1, 2016 Happy New Year from our sweet boy, Bart! As you can see, he is fairly unimpressed with the festivities
UPDATE! November 29, 2015 Looks like Bart had a little to much Thanksgiving. Well, he deserves it!
UPDATE! October 30, 2015 You asked for it, you got it! Many of you have been wondering how our famous, one-eyed friend is doing. Well, he’s fantastic and happier than ever, and we’re still waiting on the courts to decide custody. Here, he is guarding the entrance to the break area where the staff keeps their snacks because, you know, he gets first dibs.
UPDATE! September 22, 2015 Here is a picture of handsome Bart taking a moment out of his play time to pose for the camera. Such a silly kitty. He is doing well, loving life and getting more spoiled by the day. Still no news on the legal case with his previous “owner”… so for now he’s still living it up at HSTB.
UPDATE! July 22, 2015 It was a snuggle up and nap kind of day for Bart. Or, is that the Princess and the Pea? Whichever, the more layers of fluff, the better the snooze!
Still no update on the pending court case, we apologize!
UPDATE! June 25, 2015 We post a lot about how much love Bart is getting, and he is! BUT, we may have neglected to inform you about how much love and joy he brings to US! He is a courageous, friendly, silly and affectionate kitty who greets us each day with happy enthusiasm and makes us laugh with his goofy way of jumping on our keyboards and trying to eat our lunches. Here, he made a volunteer’s day by giving her a cuddle and a kiss when she went visited him over the weekend.
UPDATE! June 19, 2015 While we don’t have any information to share about the court case (still in process) we do have a cute picture to share. Yesterday, Bart got a visit from an avid fan and had a wonderful time showing off his skills with his favorite toys. The little girl had so much fun, she and her mom went out and bought him a laser toy then came back to give it to him and play some more
UPDATE! June 8, 2015 While there is still no news about the ongoing court case, we can report that Bart is doing very well in our care. He is a happy, playful and affectionate kitty who LOVES to meet new friends, like the little girl pictured here. She came in with her mom to finish registering for Critter Camp and was so excited to meet Bart. They played together for quite awhile and we’re sure she’ll be back to say hello.
UPDATE! May 12, 2015 Bart had to share his space with a former adoptable who was visiting for the day. Bert the gentle giant, and Bart the feisty feline were doing great until the unknowing pit mix traveled too close to the room where Bart’s food is kept (behind and to the left of Bart). At that point there was a hallway stare down with kitty growls and doggie whimpers. The poor, intimidated pup quickly loped off to find a different office to nap in while Bart pranced around in victory.
Note: Bert belongs to a staff member and is gentle with cats. We know him very well and he was supervised at all times, as was Bart.
UPDATE! April 29, 2015 This lovely Canadian family was vacationing in Tampa Bay and took time out of their week to come visit with Bart! He loved meeting them and showing the children how good he was at chasing his toys around the desk. He’s an international star who just wants to be snuggled and loved!
UPDATE! April 24, 2015 It’s getting pretty warm here in Tampa Bay, so Bart spent this lazy, hazy afternoon fishing.
UPDATE! April 16, 2015 Bart helps comfort a nervous kitten who recently arrived at the shelter.
UPDATE! April 14, 2015 Bart got a visit from a two-legged friend who came by to read him a story before his afternoon nap.
UPDATE! April 13, 2015 Today, depositions began in the custody case for Bart. Ellis Hutson and Dusty Allbritton were deposed today and HSTB Executive Director Sherry Silk will be deposed next week. We wanted to let you all know that the case is in process. We are still hopeful of a victory so that Bart can continue to thrive (see pictures above) and find a loving forever home.
UPDATE! April 2, 2015 Is Jack searching the basket for the perfect toy to share with his friend, Bart? Or is he simply hoarding all the goods? Either way, these two are TOO CUTE together!
UPDATE! April 1, 2015 No April Fools joke here, Jack actually allowed Bart to nap in his favorite purple bed! They are becoming fast friends. Unfortunately, our staff member was without a desktop for a little while!
UPDATE! March 30, 2015 Bart is a happy camper as he recently got the wires removed from his jaw and received some further repair to his palate. Dr. Justin Boorstein is very happy with his healing progress and how well he came through the surgery, although it will still be quite some time before his mouth is completely healed. He said that Bart should soon be able to start eating dry food again! In the picture above, he is happily giving himself a post-surgical bath while overseeing some of the staff in their office.
UPDATE! March 25, 2015 Today, our good friends from Humane Society of Pinellas came by for a visit and got to play with Bart. He showed them his favorite toy and how he has mastered the art of snagging that ribbon!
UPDATE! March 20, 2015 Bart got a visit from some young fans today and got to take his first unselfie with them! He continues to do well and will most likely get the wires removed from his jaw in the next two weeks. We’ll keep you updated!
UPDATE! March 12, 2015 Bart got a visit from some very generous fans who personally presented him with his very own stroller! They wanted him to be able to get some fresh air, safely! These wonderful ladies from Sunshine Accessories in Tarpon Springs had a great time visiting with Bart and introducing him to his new ride. We can’t thank them enough!
UPDATE! March 11, 2015 Today, the author of Buzz Beau Blatt the Wonder Cat sent Dr. Justin Boorstein (Bart’s surgeon) a signed copy of her children’s book In Honor of Bart! As you can see, Bart was much more interested in a snuggle with his favorite doc, but that’s OK; this book will be perfect for our Critter Camp to help teach humane values and the resilience of animals! Thank you, Linda Sumas Blatt!
UPDATE! March 9, 2015 Bart has received several wonderful beds from fans across the country. Today, he found this one particularly snuggly. The perfect place to spend a Monday, don’t you think? Many thanks to all the generous folks who have sent him beds, toys, blankets, treats, cards and well-wishes.
UPDATE! March 6, 2015 Bart got a luxurious bath today with a safe whitening shampoo to help make him look even more handsome than he already was! He also got a little bling on his collar and a bow to match. But his favorite part of the pampering session was a post-spa snuggle fest with a favorite staffer.
UPDATE! March 5, 2015 Today, the legal process to determine custody of Bart began in court. Over the next few weeks our legal team will conduct discovery into the circumstances surrounding his situation. We will provide legal updates as they come available. In the meantime, Bart continues to do well, making great strides in his recovery, lounging in sunbeams and enjoying attention and affection from volunteers and staff.
UPDATE! February 27, 2015 Not only is Bart healing well but he is also making friends! Our former feral boy, Jack, who lives at our administrative building was happy to share his favorite desk with a new friend. He didn’t budge from the bed or offer to share, but we’ll give it some time! We’re just happy to see Bart acting like a happy, normal cat again!
UPDATE! February 25, 2015 It’s been a busy day for Mr. Personality! He received a letter from a fan in Germany, a new bed and treats from an admirer in Pittsburgh, and this toy from our staff which he LOVED! You can see from the picture the progression from vague interest to “oh I get what I’m supposed to do” to “SUCCESS!”.
UPDATE! February 23, 2015 We don’t have much new to report on the custody case but we can say that Bart is doing fantastic. He is still healing and eating well, and has mastered the litter box! We are so proud of him. Above is a picture of him taking a nap in one of our staffer’s laps after eating his lunch.
UPDATE! February 16, 2015-Bart is thriving under our care, eating well and gaining weight. He is enjoying more mobility and gets frequent visits from staff, volunteers and visitors. He loves the attention and has become quite the cuddle bug.
We know there are questions about Bart’s situation and future stemming from the pending lawsuit with Mr. Hutson. Because this is an open case, there are things about which we cannot go into detail. However, we would like to try and answer some of the most frequently asked questions in the best way we can.
Why did you change your mind about returning Bart to his owner? We received information that the owner was actually present when Bart was buried and there was a witness claiming the cat was still alive. In addition, we discovered that Bart was not brought to us immediately after he crawled out of the grave. He suffered from severe injuries for at least 2-4 days in the care of his owner before the medical treatment was sought; this is against the law.
Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center is stating that they have not filed cruelty or neglect charges against the owner. Is that true? Although no charges have been filed to date, we are still hopeful that the county will file charges based on evidence of violation of the following Hillsborough County Ordinances:
- Sec. 6-21 Rabies Vaccination Requirement
- Sec. 6-22 Registration & License tags Requirement
- Sec. 6-24 Display of Tag Requirement; Cat Identification
- Sec. 6-25 Humane Treatment of Animals
- Sec. 6-26 Cruelty to Animals
- Sec. 6-28 Confinement to Property; Dogs and Cats at Large
Is the Humane Society of Tampa Bay using Bart to “line their pockets” (raise money)? The Humane Society of Tampa Bay is a Charity Navigator 4-Star Charity for five years running. This is the highest rating possible for fiscal responsibility and transparency. Only 3% of money we receive goes towards administrative costs (including salaries). No one’s pockets are being lined.
Most importantly, all money we have received as a result of Bart’s story has gone into a restricted fund called “Save-A-Pet Medical Fund” to pay for Bart’s medical care. This money can only be used to cover the cost of medical care for pets, like Bart, whose owners are unable to afford veterinary treatment. So, in actuality, the money we’ve raised is being given right back to the community by offering free medical treatment to pets in need.
- In 2014 we provided $53,413 in financial assistance from our Save-A-Pet Medical Fund for the treatment of 261 dogs and cats.
When will the issue of Bart’s custody be resolved? As of today, February 16, 2015, a court date has not been set. We will announce the date once it is determined.
How can I adopt Bart? If you are interested in adopting Bart, please send an email with your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add you to the list. Please understand that the list of potential adopters for Bart currently stands at more than 100 individuals.
UPDATE! February 11, 2015– On Tuesday, February 10, 2015, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay was served with official Hillsborough County Court documents notifying the Society that it is being sued by Ellis Wayne Hutson for the custody of Bart the cat.
Mr. Thomas Gonzalez, of Thompson Sizemore, Gonzalez & Hearing, has agreed to volunteer his time to represent the interests of Sherry Silk, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, and Bart the cat. The Humane Society of Tampa Bay will review all legal options to keep Bart safe and secure. Bart continues his medical treatment and care at the Society’s animal hospital.
UPDATE! February 6, 2015– We have some great news about Bart! Check out that empty dish to his right, he is eating like a champ and taking his meds orally with no complaint. When we went to visit him, he was cleaning himself and full of meows and headbutts for us. He is definitely feeling better and his cute little personality is starting to shine through even more. And, we got word from Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center that they will be sending an officer to investigate the situation at the Hutson residence.
UPDATE! February 4, 2015– We are so pleased that Bart continues to improve, day by day. Today when we approached his cage, he actually got up and walked to the door to greet us with chirps and meows. He is also showing a good appetite and interest in eating. He still needs the feeding tube and his jaw will remained wired for another 6 weeks, but he is definitely on the mend. We are proud of the little guy!
UPDATE! February 2, 2015– Well, Bart surprised us today by taking his first bites of food since coming to our facility on January 23. This is a very good sign of his continued recovery. Because he is unable to eat enough food to sustain him, he will still need his feeding tube for several more weeks. He receives feedings every 4 hours through the tube to ensure that he is getting enough nutrients. We are so proud of this brave boy!
UPDATE! February 2, 2015– Bart is resting comfortably this morning but is still unable to eat on his own. Our Director of Medical Operations believes he will need his feeding tube for a few more weeks until his jaw and palate are completely healed.
UPDATE! January 30, 2105– New Information About Bart: Recently we have learned new information about Bart’s home environment and the circumstances leading up to his burial. Therefore, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay does not intend to return Bart to the Hutson family. We are prepared to fight for the best interests of this cat. We hope the Hutson family will do the right thing and surrender Bart to our care so that we can find an appropriate environment for him to live out his life.
The Humane Society of Tampa Bay’s Save-A-Pet Medical Fund, along with donations for Bart that we have received from generous individuals all over the world, will cover the cost of all medical care required and will help replenish our Save-A-Pet fund for other animals in need. We are not asking the Huston family for any money to cover any costs.
The Humane Society of Tampa Bay had no involvement with the creation of the GoFundMe campaign set up to cover the cost of Bart’s medical care, nor have we received any funds from the account to date. Again, Bart’s medical costs are being covered by our own Save-A-Pet Medical Fund. Our concern is for Bart’s future.
As always, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay is dedicated to the plight of companion animals in our area and strives to protect and promote their best interests at all times.
UPDATE! January 28, 2015– Bart was struggling due to anemia. One of our shelter cats, Draco, was the donor for a blood transfusion to help Bart feel better. The transfusion went well and both cats are happy and resting comfortably.
UPDATE! January 28, 2015– Bart came through his surgery very well and is resting comfortably in our care. He will be able to go home in 5-7 days once he is able to eat on his own. Full recovery will take about six weeks. He is a brave boy!
UPDATE! January 27, 2015– Bart will be having surgery to repair his jaw and remove his eye today.
We have seen many amazing cases at our full-service veterinary clinic, but this situation may take the cake! Our public hospital is currently caring for Bart, a 1.5 year old cat who was found by his owner after being hit by a car. The cat appeared to be lifeless and the owner buried him. Five days later, the cat showed up in a neighbors yard, alive! He had dug himself out of the grave and slowly made his way back home, albeit weak, dehydrated and in need of medical attention.
The owner reached out to area veterinary clinics but, unable to afford their fees, brought him to the our Animal Health Center where he is being treated for a broken jaw, open facial wounds and a ruined eye, which will have to be removed. Luckily, the injuries sustained were not more serious. HSTB veterinarians expect him to recover and be able to go back home.