An example of how cruel humans can sometimes be to animals recently took place in Cabool, and the incident is causing quite a stir.

A two-year-old female cat named Tinkerbell received burns over most of her body when someone set her on fire in late June. There's a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible.

The reward is being offered by The Animal Shelter of Texas County (TASTC), with money pledged by a single donor.

"I feel that anybody who would do this to an animal is probably a menace to our society," TASTC president Rita Romines said. "I would like them to be caught because who knows what else they're going to do. They might torch more animals or even hurt a person."

Tinkerbell's saga began at about 10 p.m. June 23 when her owner made a phone call to Cynthia Waibel, a friend and TASTC volunteer.

"She was in a panic," Waibel said. "A neighbor had just brought Tinkerbell to her and said they had seen her running and she was on fire. She doesn't have a car and she didn't know what to do."

The Cabool Police Department was contacted about the incident, but no arrest was made.

"There were some kids, but nobody would say who did it or what exactly they saw," Waibel said.

The exact method used in the burning is not known, but speculation ranges from flammable liquid being poured onto Tinkerbell, or that she was put in a bag and the bag was lit, or both.

Tinkerbell was initially treated at a veterinary office in Cabool. Her injuries didn't appear to be as bad as they were, so she went home with her owner. But as her skin blistered and her overall condition worsened, she was eventually taken to the Texas County Veterinary Clinic in Houston for long-term care.

Steven Root was the doctor on call when the feline burn victim arrived.

"She was probably burned over 75-percent of her body and her ears were shrunken and malformed," Root said. "She had massive hair loss and her skin was discolored and scarred. It was a very pitiful sight, but through it all, that little cat maintained a positive attitude. She would purr, even during the initial exam."

Tinkerbell has lost a significant amount of weight, but she eats regularly and is undoubtedly on the mend. Twice daily, she receives rub-downs of silver sulfadiazine crème, the same substance used to treat severe human burns.

The crème treatments are administered by assistant Allyssa Elmore, who said Tinkerbell's trusting, happy-go-lucky nature may have contributed to her plight.

"She likes everybody," Elmore said, "and that was probably the problem."

Tinkerbell is expected to remain at the vet for as much as another month.

"She definitely is a fighter," Root said. "And to go through what she went through and still be so positive is amazing. Cats can be our most difficult patients; even if we're just doing routine things they can sometimes scratch and bite. But this one still seeks out your affection.

"She's just a pleasure to be around."

Anyone with information about the burning of Tinkerbell is encouraged to call the Cabool Police Department at 417-962-3993.

TASTC will conduct a fundraising event this Saturday, hosting a fish fry and a large auction in the community building at the fairgrounds. Food will be served from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., followed by the auction that will include many donated antique items.

"It's not a matter of money now," Romines said, "it's a matter of principle. We'll somehow come up with the money to treat her."

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