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"Mayor" of Talkeetna

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Talkeetna 'mayor' Stubbs the cat recovering after dog attack, fund established

Jerzy Shedlock

September 2, 2013
After a dog attack on Saturday evening, Stubbs the cat -- the unofficial mayor of the small Alaska community of Talkeetna -- was reportedly left clinging to life.Flickr/cc photo via the queen of subtle

A local dog on Saturday evening reportedly mauled Stubbs the cat, honorary mayor of the Alaska community of Talkeetna, a small town of about 900 north of Anchorage and the launching pad for Mt. McKinley expeditions. The prominent pussy cat suffered a deep gash about four inches wide; the loose dog cut through Stubbs’ skin and muscle. According to Stubbs’ owner, the cat is clinging to life at a veterinarian’s office in the nearby town of Wasilla.




Known around Southcentral Alaska for years, as tour bus drivers mention the town’s curious cat while passing through Talkeetna -- a town often called eccentric in its own right -- Stubbs' celebrity skyrocketed last year when Anchorage TV news station KTUU reported the cat won the town’s mayoral election as a write-in candidate. It turned out that was not entirely true. Talkeetna doesn’t really have a mayor. A community council, which operates under the jurisdiction of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, oversees the town. Regardless of the media hook, Stubbs is recognized as the honorary -- symbolic, unofficial, volunteer -- mayor. He even has a paragraph dedicated to him under the government section of Talkeetna’s Wikipedia pageNow, the 16-year-old cat’s life hangs in the balance.

On a dreary Saturday evening in downtown Talkeetna, Stubbs was strolling on the main street of the tiny hamlet. He had only strutted a few stores down from Nagley's General Store, the workplace of his owner, Laurie Stec. Stec has managed the store for years.

Apparently, a dog that Stec said is known to locals as a mean one, darted across the street and attacked the mayor.

Stec was sitting at home when she got a call about the attack. Stubbs had the strength to run for cover after the mauling, and Talkeetna residents were searching for their missing mayor.

“People were looking around with headlights and flashlights; everybody was pretty upset,” Stec said on Monday. “All I could think was ‘I can’t let him die out here in the rain.’”

They searched for hours, with no luck. Stec returned to a spot she’d searched numerous times before on that grey evening. It was a spot she knew Stubbs to frequent, an old home a few structures down from the general store. She called for Stubbs repeatedly in desperation, and the old feline eventually came crawling out from underneath his hiding place.

She found him. That was good. But Stubbs was in bad condition. Back at the general store, Stec and friends examined an injured Stubbs and found a deep, wide wound. The dog reportedly cut through flesh and muscle. Stec would come to find out later that Stubbs suffered other injures as well -- a punctured lung, a crushed sternum and bruised hips.

Stec called a local vet, who was waiting for her a few miles outside the town’s historic downtown district. There was little that could be done except to wrap Stubbs up and make a trip to a veterinary office in Wasilla, 70 road miles south on the George Parks Highway, about an hour-and-a-half drive.

Vets stitched Stubbs up and addressed his other wounds the best they could. Stubbs made it through the night, and on Sunday was still clinging to life.

There is still not much that can be done for the famous cat at this point. He is hooked up to life support, wearing a compression jacket, a body suit of sorts that calms anxious animals. “If he doesn’t heal,” Stec said, “the only thing they can do is put metal plates in his body.”

The bills are stacking up, totaling $2,000 so far. But Stec said Stubbs is worth every dollar. The owner spoke with vets around 11 a.m. Monday; they told her Stubbs was doing well. He got up to drink some water, she said. Rest is what the feline needs though, and he’s been dosed with pain meds to keep him relaxed. He’s at the point where the pain is thought to be the worst.

Outraged by what happened, Stec has called animal control to search for the alleged canine assailant, and the dog’s owner. Talkeetna is Talkeetna, Stec said, and people keep a lot of pets in rural Alaska. But pet owners need to take responsibility, she lamented. If your dog is aggressive, take responsibility and keep it locked up, she offered.

Attempts to contact the dog's reported owner were not immediately successful Monday.

Caring little about her pet’s stardom, Stec only hopes Stubbs pulls through the ordeal. In fact, she is a bit befuddled by his celebrity status. Tourists from around the world have visited her store to snap photos with Stubbs, or to simply pet the “cool cat.” Stubbs generally spends his days lounging in the store, sipping water from a wine glass.

“He was famous years ago, and once the TV story was done on him it just catapulted all over the world,” she said. “I don’t know … he’s just a really cool cat.”

Update, Sept. 3, 3:09 p.m.: Stubbs the cat is still clinging to life at a veterinarian’s office in the cabin community of Big Lake, up the road from Wasilla. “Stubbs is holding his own,” Stec said. The prominent pussy cat is hooked up to a chest tube and is heavily medicated. Since the story hit the Internet Monday, an outpouring of support for Stubbs’ recovery has flooded social media sites -- Stec's medical bills top $2,000, so far. Stec has set up a donation fund at Nagley's General Store, which she manages. Concerned cat lovers can mail the donations to the store at P.O. Box 906, Talkeetna, AK, 99676. Stec said that any donations beyond the cost of Stubbs' care will go to the Mat-Su Animal Care Facility.


Contact Jerzy Shedlock at jerzy(at)alaskadispatch.com

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Alaska town roots for feline mayor attacked by



Sandy Bubar



FILE - In this Wednesday, July 11, 2012 file photo provided by Sandy Bubar, a cat named Stubbs lies on a tarp in an alley in Talkeetna, Alaska. Locals know him as Mayor Stubbs, a 15-year-old yellow cat who has been overseeing the town since shortly after he was born. For the honorary mayor, a weekend dogfight was less political, more literal. Mayor Stubbs the cat is recovering at a veterinarian's office in Wasilla after being injured by a dog Saturday night, Aug. 31, 2013 in the tourist town near Denali National Park. (AP Photo/Sandy Bubar, File)



Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013 7:50 am | Updated: 12:33 pm, Thu Sep 5, 2013.

Associated Press | 7 comments

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The honorary mayor of a tiny Alaska town is noticeably absent this week, when he should be hanging out at the general store or sipping his water-catnip concoctions from a wine glass at the pub next door.

Instead, Stubbs the cat is sedated and under veterinary care after he was badly injured in a vicious dog attack in Talkeetna, a quirky community of 900 that elected him in a write-in campaign 15 years ago. Talkeetna has no human mayor, so you could say 16-year-old Stubbs is the reigning leader - of the feline sort, anyway.

"He's everybody's guy," said Stubbs' owner, Lauri Stec, who manages Nagley's General Store, where the orangey-beige cat lives and mingles with locals and tourists alike. Saturday's attack by the loose dog left Stubbs with a punctured lung, bruised hips, a long deep gash on his side and a sternum fractured to the point it might need to be repaired with a plate.

Stec, who said she knows the dog that was involved, has reported the attack with borough animal control officials.

The next few days will be crucial in Stubbs' recovery, but the cat has begun to sit up and eat. A tube inserted in his lung has been removed. All in all, Stubbs is holding his own, Stec said.

"He's a freaking tough boy," she said.

Stubbs, already popular nationally, gained even more fans outside of Alaska when word got out about the attack. Among his followers are tourists stopping in the community that serves as the last stop for travelers and climbers visiting Mount McKinley, North America's tallest peak.

The town, 115 miles north of Anchorage, is purported to be the inspiration for the town in the TV series, "Northern Exposure." It's a place dotted with artist shops, where bachelors are auctioned off at a yearly fundraiser ball and where women compete in a wilderness contest.

Even in such a place, Stubbs is a star.

"We all love him," said Geoff Pfeiffer, a waiter at the West Rib Pub and Cafe located inside the same building as the general store. The staff there is hanging on to Stubbs' wine glass, hoping they get to fill it again with water and a catnip garnish, a feline cocktail for a regular who commands attention every time he comes in.

"It's like Elvis has entered the building," Pfeiffer said.

Stubbs has his own Facebook page, filled with posts this week from well-wishers around the world. There is also a Twitter account purporting to be from Stubbs, but Stec said she's not involved with that account. Attempts by The Associated Press to reach the account owner weren't immediately successful Thursday.

Before Saturday, Stubbs had already used up a few of his nine lives. In the past, he has been shot by a BB gun, and still has a BB lodged inside. He's fallen into a cold fryer vat at the West Rib when the staff was changing the oil. He rode on a garbage truck before jumping off.

"He's a little pistol," Stec said. "He's got a great personality."

She's not alone in thinking that. Donations from well-wishers as far away as Australia have been pouring in for Stubbs' veterinary bills. There's also a jar for donations at the general store placed near a photo of Stubbs.



Edited by Chena345
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Mayor Stubbs: Wily Alaska cat's vet bills paid by another well-known feline named Morris

Sean Doogan

September 10, 2013
Stubbs the cat is recovering in his hometown of Talkeetna, Alaska, and recuperating from his dog-bite wounds.Flickr/cc photo via the queen of subtle


Stubbs, the 16-year-old cat known as the unofficial mayor of Talkeetna, a small Alaska town in the northern Susitna Valley, is back at home and on the mend after being severely mauled by a dog last month. A pain-relief patch on the kitty’s paw was removed Tuesday, and his owner hopes Stubbs will continue to improve after suffering life-threatening injuries. Now, a cat-food company has offered to pay most of the animal’s veterinary expenses.


Stubbs gained national fame last year. The cat even has a paragraph dedicated to him under the government section of the town of Talkeetna’s Wikipedia page. News of his injuries spread rapidly across the Internet. Cards and letters poured in, some from human mayors of other U.S. cities, according to Lauri Stec, the mayor's human companion.


Now another famous cat has lent Stubbs a paw, so to speak. Morris, the famous face of the 9Lives cat food company, has paid for nearly all of the Talkeetna cat’s medical bills, which amount to about $3,000. Morris even “created” a get-well card for Stubbs on Facebook. But Stubbs, known for holding court in the tiny, touristy town underneath Mount McKinley, isn’t living the good life yet.




“He’s really pissed at me now,” said Stec. “He cried and bit as I was trying to remove his (pain) patch.”


Stubbs is still wary of contact after being bitten and surviving deep gashes to his side. Stec said she believes the dog that attacked her cat is no longer in town.


Just keeping up with the public attention is difficult for Stec. Cards, letters, emails, and phone calls keep pouring into Nagley’s General Store, which Stec manages and where Stubbs typically can be found. Some come from as far away as Australia and Germany. People began donating money for mounting medical bills soon after news broke about the dog attack. Now that 9Lives has donated most of the money needed to cover the vet bills, Stec said she would donate the money to the Mat-Su Animal Shelter and a local vet who helped get Stubbs to a clinic in Big Lake, about an hour south of Talkeetna.



People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is also sending Stubbs a gift basket. But along with some cat goodies, the animal rights organization also sent Stec some unwanted advice -- that Stubbs should not be let outside anymore.


“I will be closely monitoring him, but when he feels better, he will be let outside,” said Stec. “He’s been roaming Talkeetna since he was a kitten. Caging him up inside would kill him.”


Stubb’s penchant for sipping catnip-laced water from a wine glass is on hold for now, though. While he recovers, Stubbs will be on a strict food-and-water-only diet.


“But when he recovers, he’s set,” said Stec. “I just got a package of organic catnip donated to us from someone in Canada, so he’s set.”


Contact Sean Doogan at sean(at)alaskadispatch.com

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