AUSTIN (KXAN) - It may be Friday the 13th, but a couple of young animals are having a mighty lucky day. In fact, every day is lucky now for Sweet Pea, the kitten, and Frankie, the duckling.
The Tiny Bean
Sweet Pea used to be Tiny Bean. That name was given to her by the staff at a Bastrop animal shelter because at five weeks of age, the animal was still roughly the size of a human thumb.
That prompted speculation she might be a " primordial dwarf ," a term referring to an animal or a human being that while being of proper proportion in body, is nonetheless, extremely small.
"It's very rare," said cat rescuer Haven Peschko. "It's much rarer than dwarfism or runtism."
Indeed, at ten weeks of age, Sweet Pea is still small enough to curl up in a human hand.
Because of her tiny stature and her appearance of malnutrition, the kitten was in danger of being euthanized when the alarm went out to Peschko's cat rescue group, Cat Haven .
"We were asked," the rescuer said, "by a volunteer at the Bastrop shelter on a day that they were going to euthanize 40 of the cats and kittens in intake, to come rescue some of them. So we took 12 and she was one of them.
Sweet Pea was placed in foster care and is now being officially adopted by that caregiver, but she remains very small and her life-expectancy is likely to be less than that of a normal cat. Still, she draws smiles and "oohs" and "ahs" wherever she goes.
"She's a talker," Peschko said. "She loves to cuddle. She follows you around from room to room. She's a sweetie. She's got a big personality for such a tiny little kitty."
What the Duck!
A few miles down the road, the Butlin family is nursing a lucky duckling by the name of Frankie .
Nancy Butlin found the bird in a feed store where employees had failed to notice its severely deformed right leg.
The normal price for a duckling was $3.00, but the store manager just gave it to Butlin, who took it home with a promise to her husband to tend to it on a budget.
The family put Frankie in a back yard pond and was delighted to see her swim around and nibble on bugs and plants.
Back on dry land, though, the going gets tough. Frankie mostly just sits. When she does try to move, her progress is halting, slow and worrisome to watch.
"The question," said Butlin, "is: Is it dislocated? Is it broken? Is it painful when she tries to walk on it? Or is it just a matter of strength? That's what we don't know for sure."
The Butlins have a backyard chicken run and coop and Nancy Butlin participates in an online chicken forum. She made some inquires there and talked briefly with a couple of veterinarians with little to show for it.
She did fashion a sling from a tee-shirt that lifts Frankie off the ground just enough to allow her to go through the motions of walking. The duckling gives it a good try, but Butlin suspects it isn't really helping.
"She can't do it in a functional way that allows her to feed and live like we'd like her to be able to do," she said.
"We're looking for some ideas. There is some surgery that we could do that would be real expensive. We love her and we'd love to help her but we really can't, you know, get into thousands of dollars of vet bills for a $3 duck.
"So if there's anybody that has a good solution, someone who knows about orthopedics and ducks, that's what we're looking for."
Meanwhile, Frankie lives a life of leisure.
"I think there's hope here," said Butlin. "With a bit of help we could have a happy little duck."
Poochinis and Peticures
Back at Sweet Pea's place, plans are underway for a benefit that will raise money for Cat Haven. The non-profit arm of " Lofty Dog ," a pet boutique in North Austin has a monthly fund-raiser for rescue groups.
September 6, from 6:00 – 8:00 PM, the store will host its first ever benefit for a cat rescue group and Cat Haven will be the beneficiary.
Called "Poochinis and Peticures," the event features free toe trims for dogs and drinks for people made from Austin's Tito's Vodka.
Lots of luck to go around on this unluckiest of days.
More than 100 trees covered in lights now shine bright throughout Zilker Park. The Trail of Lights is open for another season.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside of a vehicle which lost control during the icy conditions, DPS said.
Travis County non-profit Center for Child Protection will benefit next March from an all day fundraiser at the Circuit of the Americas that will see plenty of donors racing on the track.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could oust her from office.
Santa visited Austin early on Sunday, joining hundreds of motorcyclists for their annual Toy Run.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.