Rescued cat out-Foxs tormentor
By Jesse Phelps
Tasha, a female Himalayan mix
cat, has gone from one extreme to the other recently - from being
tossed into the surf off Ventura State Beach to being adopted
by a celebrity.
Tasha is clearly down at least one of her nine lives after the
experience, in which she was tossed into the ocean in a cat carrier
weighted down with rocks, apparently meant to drown her. But
with the aid of her rescuer, the Ventura County Humane Society
and a animal-loving weather lady, she's recovering well in a
Jillian Barberie is known to area viewers as the weather forecaster
for Fox 11 "Morning News" and "Good Day L.A."
and as the former hostess of "The List" on FX. When
she heard about Tasha's story, she understandably got upset.
Instead of keeping her feelings to herself, Barberie decided
to take action.
First she offered on the air
to increase the reward for the cat's tormentor, still on the
loose, by $1,000. And then, when the Humane Society's Tim Dewar
called to see if she wanted to adopt the cat, she immediately
agreed to do so.
"I spoke with her assistant to see if there was interest
and there was just no hesitation at all," said Dewar. "I
have been familiar with Jillian's love for animals for a long
time. That cemented it for us, that not only did she offer a
substantial amount personally, but she also really kept it in
the forefront publicly trying to find the person responsible,
through the television program."
Dewar said he took Tasha, after she'd been housed in the Humane
Society shelter for the requisite 30-day wait period, to Los
Angeles to meet Barberie. "The day I went down, (Jillian)
had had her wisdom teeth out the day before. So she was going
to be home for almost a week and be with (Tasha), introduce her
to her other animals, begin that acceptance process before she
went back to work.
"It worked out very well. The great thing is she has three
dogs and four other cats, and another Himalayan mix, very similar
to Tasha, just fell in love with her right away," said Dewar.
"He came and sat by the carrier as we did the paperwork.
When we opened the door, she didn't run and hide under a sofa
or anything. She was immediately comfortable, strolled out casually
and started exploring. I walked out of there feeling just absolutely
elated that Tasha had found a place where she would be absolutely
loved, not only by Jillian but by all the other animals in the
Tasha was actually dubbed Sandy by her rescuers after her oceanic
voyage, but was renamed by Barberie. "I wanted to get as
far away from that traumatic experience as I could for her,"
she said. "I always spend time with them before I name them.
They all have personalities.
I was looking on my fridge one morning and saw a picture of my
uncle's old cat. I said, 'My god, it looks like the incarnation
of this cat,' who was named Tasha. So that's where the name comes
And how is Tasha doing? She's adjusting gradually, according
to Barbarie, and going through the natural process of regaining
"I am very patient," said Barberie, who has a history
of adopting and caring for previously unwanted pets. "The
reward is overwhelming. Once she has trust, it's going to be
unbelievable and I know that. She's got serious issues. She's
so injured, so mentally distrustful. You can't rush them."
Barberie said that, for now, Tasha "hangs out observes -
she watches all of us like a hawk." All the other animals
sense her hurt and steer clear, for the time being. Except, that
is, for one adventurous rabbit.
"The first time she saw the bunny was priceless," Barbarie
said. "This rabbit comes hopping across her path. She stopped,
mid-paw in air. Mr. Jinxy is a very happy rabbit. He has no fear
whatsoever. He hopped over to her and wanted to smell her. She
slapped him across the face and he went flying all the way across
Fortunately, Tasha, who is de-clawed and appears to have been
well cared for in the past - making the why of her original predicament
that much more mysterious -didn't hurt the poor rabbit. Now,
says Barberie, even Mr. Jinxy knows he's dealing with a tough
Barberie said she'll continue to nurture Tasha and eventually
she expects her to gain enough trust to play more with the other
animals. She's got a single-story ranch home with lots of room
for everyone. After the adjustment period, the animals all make
friends. For now, she gives Tasha a little catnip every day.
"That's the only time she
lets me pet her," Barberie said. "She purrs and lays
on her back-that's a sign of trust. I love the challenge because,
fast forward for a year until she knows and realizes this is
her new home, I know how wonderful that realization is going
to be for her."
The reward for information leading to Tasha's would-be-murderer
remains unclaimed. It started at $300, and after Barberie upped
it to $1,300, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals added
$1,000 and other contributors kicked in various amounts. The
reward now totals about $3,500.
Meanwhile, while Tasha's adventures may have a storybook ending,
many animals still await loving homes. Dewar said the Humane
Society just held it's adopt-athon but that in the neighborhood
of about 35 dogs and about 12 cats remain homeless at the shelter.
"(Tasha) found a fabulous home but there are still lots
of animals out there looking," said Dewar. "It's wonderful
that people respond the way they do when an animal has been treated
the way she was. There are still plenty of animals that haven't
been traumatized the way she was but still need a home. Anyone
who was interested in (Tasha), we'd just like them to know that
there are plenty of animals that need them just as badly."
The Ojai Valley News
to the news
BARBERIE meets her new cat, Tasha, the cat rescued after it was
nearly drowned in late April.