SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

March 12, 2013

A fund for sick animals

Couple who lost cat help others pay for pet care

PEABODY — Few things generate as much sympathy as a helpless, stricken animal. But caring and curing these creatures isn’t cheap.

Nevertheless, so far, roughly 50 sick pets have hit the health care jackpot thanks to Keeno.

No, Keeno is not a game of chance. Keeno is the late, lamented cat of Paul Boudreau and Helen Smith of Peabody. Suffering with liver disease, Keeno found relief at the Northeast Veterinary Hospital on Lowell Street.

“They loved their cat,” Dr. Douglas DePiero said of the couple. “And we did everything we could.”

When the end came, the owners were so moved by the experience that they made an offer that took DePiero aback at first.

They wanted to set up a fund, containing “a substantial sum of money,” to help defer some of the cost of care for pets belonging to people caught in the economic downtown.

“I thought it was amazing,” DePiero said. “Giving all this money for someone else.”

Boudreau credits Keeno with inspiring the gift.

“He was just such a sweetheart,” he said.

By way of example, he explained, “I had an accident where I hurt my ribs. He’d come up and cuddle up — very gently — against my ribs. He wouldn’t move from my side. He just had a way with him. ... Somehow, he seemed to know when things were wrong. When you had bad days, he was always there for you.”

When Keeno needed care, the couple discovered that it cost several thousand dollars just to find out what was wrong with him. Eventually, no amount of money could save him. The difficult business of letting go followed.

Meanwhile, they learned of a family on Washington Street in Peabody who had adopted a three-legged cat named Snaps only to learn that it had likely fatal intestinal problems.

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