Disciples of Otis,
The story told by the mysterious, furry stranger from Tombstone continues…
As Tombstone was becoming established, a man named Wyatt Earp was busy establishing a name for himself in a place called Dodge City, Kansas. Wyatt had been appointed as an assistant Marshall in Dodge City. This was in 1878, and there were no animal control officers in those days. Wyatt, who was an animal lover, took it upon himself to round up strays and protect what he referred to as his “furry, four-legged brothers and sisters” from abuse. He campaigned tirelessly for strictly-enforceable leash laws, and a piece of legislation he wrote called “The Feline Safe Confinement Act”.
While many of the Dodge City townsfolk were open to, and even enthusiastic about Earp’s ideas, a small but vocal faction rebelled outright against the idea of confining pets, and some even challenged Earp’s contention that all pets should be treated humanely. Things came to a head on July 26, 1878 when a local man named George Hoyt was spotted walking down the street at 3 am carrying a large, yowling cat by the tail. The visibly drunk Hoyt was shouting at the top of his lungs stating, “Man is the superior species! Ya’ll don’t need to worry yourselves about the comfort of no cat!” Earp, along with policeman James Masterson and several animal-loving townsfolk, responded to the scene to discover Hoyt screaming on the ground with the cat attached to his face. Hoyt, never known to be the brightest of men, pulled out his pistol and attempted to shoot the cat. Sensing danger, the cat quickly leapt from Hoyt’s face, just as he pulled the trigger. The bullet passed through the cat’s tail and continued on into Hoyt’s head, killing him instantly.
After the gun was fired, Earp immediately ran to the aid of the wounded cat. He took her to a friend of his who had been trained in veterinary medicine. The man, John Henry “Doc” Holliday, DVM, had given up his practice after he discovered that he was deathly allergic to cats. Still, he could not turn away an animal in need and he worked valiantly to save the injured cat. He was successful, although he did have to amputate all but three inches of the cat’s tail. He also suffered serious damage to his lungs in the process due to his allergies. Earp adopted the cat, naming her Mrs. Stump, and from that day forward he credited Doc Holliday with saving Mrs. Stump’s life.
After George Hoyt’s untimely death, representatives from the Dodge City Inhumane Society, and others from the Society for the Propagation of Cruelty to Animals, began spreading rumors that Earp had shot George Hoyt while he was trying to defend himself from a rabid cat. Despite the testimony of eyewitnesses who had seen Hoyt shoot himself, the relentless campaign against Earp put forth by the DCIS and the SPCA eventually gained traction.
By 1879, No longer feeling welcome in Dodge City, Earp began to believe he should seek his fortunes elsewhere. As fate would have it, this is when he received a letter from his brother Virgil who was in Prescott, Arizona Territory. Virgil wrote of a new boomtown called “Tombstone” in which Main Street was lined with cathouses. Wyatt was greatly excited by this news. To think, after all of his difficulties trying to pass the Feline Safe Confinement Act in Dodge City, this town, Tombstone, had already established multiple businesses, right on main street, dedicated to safely confining cats. Wyatt loaded Mrs. Stump, as well as his common-law wife Mattie Blaylock, into a wagon and headed west to Tombstone where he met up with His brothers James, Virgil and Morgan, as well as his friend Doc Holliday.
Tomorrow- Disappointing revelations and attempts to make a difference as we continue with The Legend of Kiddy the Cat: Part IV.