A house cat survived being locked in a cage, thrown off a bridge and then stranded in an icy puddle of river slush.
The ordeal ended Tuesday morning when a pair of passers-by spotted the calico cat while crossing a footbridge and called for help.
Missoula firefighters arrived minutes later, donned wet suits and launched a rescue boat.
Someone had put the animal in a cage, along with a rock weighing about 16 pounds, and tossed it into the Clark Fork River. But instead of landing in the water, it bounced several times on the ice and then became stuck.
It's unclear how long the cat had been there.
"It was really skinny, nothing but skin and bones, and had collar marks where a too-small collar had rubbed the fur off its neck. But it was really friendly," firefighter Philip Keating said.
Firefighter Josh Macrow decided to keep the cat. After his shift, he took it to a veterinarian and then home to his 12-year-old daughter.
"It's the sweetest cat," Macrow said. "It sits on your shoulder when you drive down the road, and it curled up with my black Labs this morning."
Naming the animal was easy, he said.
"We call her Lucky."
How an animal can trust humans again after being treated so despicably is really amazing. What a good-hearted kitty to be so forgiving.
Please consider giving a year end gift to an animal welfare organization. There is much cruelty perpetrated against animals every day and the rescue organizations really need your help. Those I can heartily recommend are PETA, The Humane Society and Noah's Wish. I make a monthly pledge to both PETA and The Humane Society - each of which is automatically charged to my credit card - and the amount I budgeted for Katrina relief was sent to Noah's Wish. It's not a huge amount and I hardly notice it but the contributions really add up over the year and I have the satisfaction of knowing that that money is truly being used to help sentient beings who cannot possibly understand why they are suffering. Please consider helping.