Sarah Hall got Charlie the cat after Fluffy died about three years ago.
Fluffy was with her for a long time, her companion, sharing her small apartment on the first floor of a rowhouse in the 100 block of South Pine Street in York. She got Fluffy to keep her company, and Fluffy did that. When Fluffy succumbed to old age, Hall was heartbroken. She cried, her son Robert Grogg said. "My mother's a tough woman," he said. "I never saw her cry before."
She took Fluffy's remains to the animal hospital on South Pine Street and had him cremated. She keeps the small box containing the ashes in a drawer in the dresser by her bed.
Grogg wanted his mother to have another cat. Hall, a 75-year-old retired factory worker, lives alone and her son said she needs the companionship. So he got Charlie for her from a friend whose grandmother's cat had just had a litter.
Charlie soon became her constant companion, laying next to her on her bed, sitting with her while she watched TV. She'd pet him and call him her baby boy. Hall said she trained him right, mostly. He would jump up on her sewing machine while she was working, and she'd have to swat his paws away from the bobbing needle, afraid Charlie's paw would be perforated by the machine.
He was a good cat, she said.
She'd let Charlie outside now and then, in her small backyard contained by chain-link. Charlie would stay in the yard, basking in the sunshine and fresh air, she said. He liked it out there.
Charlie was in the backyard on the afternoon of June 27 when Hall, who was in her bedroom, heard a commotion. SHE WENT TO THE KITCHEN DOOR AND SAW CHARLIE BEING ATTACKED BY THE NEIGHBOR'S 2 PIT BULLS - BROWNIE AND BABY GIRL.
Brownie was one of Baby Girl's puppies, a member of at least two litters Baby Girl had had, she and her son said. The neighbors kept them in their backyard, separated from her yard by the chain-link fence and a gate. The dogs were always in the yard, Grogg said, and he didn't think they were well kept. He often gave them water when they had none, he said. They weren't well trained and didn't spend a lot of time around people, he said.
Brownie had Charlie by the tail, and Baby Girl had his head, she recalled. The cat tried to get back into the house, and the dogs came after him, almost knocking Hall over. They went back outside and were dragging Charlie toward the gate when Hall intervened and grabbed Charlie. The dogs backed down and went back to their yard.
Hall took Charlie to her kitchen and laid him on the floor. "His insides were out," she said. He didn't make it. He died on her kitchen floor.
She called the police, and they checked it out, giving her a form for a private complaint she could file at the district justice's office. The citation, written by the officer, indicated that the dogs' owner, Jasmine McKinnis, was in violation of the dangerous dog statute.
The neighbors took the dogs away. Hall wasn't sure where they went. She found out later.
On July 5, the two pit bulls, which had been staying at a house in the 100 block of West Jackson Street, got out and had killed again. This time they mauled a Shi-Poo named Cody while Cody's owner was walking him near his Spring Garden Township home. Cody's owner, Andrew Lockhart, 78, was injured in the attack, one cut on his hand requiring nine stitches to close.
On July 8, Brownie and Baby Girl were put down. McKinnis was cited for violating the dangerous dog law and other offenses and was fined a total of $2,288.50.
Grogg thinks McKinnis has moved from the area. He said they had talked about moving to Florida. Her phone number in York is no longer in service.
Hall thinks about what happened and considers herself lucky that she wasn't hurt when she tried to rescue Charlie.
She has another cat, Smoke, a stray she took in. And after Charlie died, a woman at her church gave her yet another cat to replace Charlie, named Socks.
She took Charlie's remains to the animal hospital and had him cremated. It cost $135, a lot of money to her since she lives on Social Security. She felt she had to do it — for Charlie.
She keeps his ashes in a little box, identical to the one holding Fluffy's ashes, in the dresser drawer. She has instructed her son that when she passes away, the ashes are to be buried with her.
Her new cats keep her company, she said. But she still misses Charlie.
"It's taking me a long time to get used to it," she said. "I'll never get over it."