Postal carrier helps out cats, dogs seen during routes

Kim Pinkham, a postal carrier from Prairie du Chein, has rescued countless animals she encounters on her route. Pinkham has many pets at home including cats dogs and goldfish.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN — A black feral cat with luminous eyes crawled on its front legs from the weeds of a dilapidated farmhouse toward Kim Pinkham last April.

“She couldn’t move her back legs,” Pinkham said.

Pinkham carried the crippled feline to the back of her mail truck, where the cat stayed for the remainder of that day’s route.

A veterinarian determined the paralyzed cat was pregnant and required a $200 Caesarean section for delivery in three weeks.

“At this point, I didn’t really know what I was going to do with this cat,” Pinkham said. “I just knew I had to get her through this time.”

At the onset of contractions, Pinkham paid for the surgery that produced three stillborn kittens.

Their meeting was kismet, Pinkham said, and she named the cat she adopted Bailey.

Pinkham’s job as a U.S. Postal Service carrier in Prairie du Chien may expose her to animals in jeopardy, but the devoted animal lover said she sees each encounter as an opportunity to help.

After a stint in a band and jobs at Walmart, a nursing home and as an elderly caretaker, Pinkham, a bubbly and energetic 52-year-old, started as a full-time mail carrier in May 2004.

“I just love my customers,” she said. “I meet all these people and I talk to them all.”

It’s Pinkham’s customers with pets who find themselves under her watchful eye. She’s been called an “animal vigilante” and doesn’t hesitate to lecture owners about proper pet care.

“I’m not a policeman. It’s not my authority, but it is my business,” she said.

Pinkham can’t count the number of animals she has helped, but can easily recall the paths she has crossed with pets in peril.

“They present themselves to me,” Pinkham said.

Once, she brought a blanket to a dog housed outdoors. She recalled the day she used turkey to try to coax down a cat stuck 40 feet up in a tree, and reached out to police and fire departments for help before it climbed down on its own.

It was a snowy and cold day about this time last year when Pinkham stumbled on a black Labrador retriever and coon hound mix outside a mobile home during a mail delivery.

“I could see all her backbone and her ribs,” she said. “She was outside with this doghouse she couldn’t fit into.”

Pinkham fed the animal dog treats weekly during her lunch break and gave it an abandoned dog house.

“One day when I looked in her dog house she had seven or eight puppies,” she said. “She had all these beautiful puppies fat as butter.”

The dog delivered her litter in March and three months later, with permission of the animal’s owner, Pinkham took the puppies to the side of a highway with a sign that read “Free.”

They were adopted out in three hours, Pinkham said.

On Thursday, the dog’s owner surrendered her and Pinkham now is focused on finding her an adoptive home.

On top of a full-time job, Pinkham balances a volunteer position as a board member of the Rivers and Bluffs Animal Shelter and a passion for gardening and cooking. Her Sundays are devoted to baking for the post office “because Monday is a bad day” and watching clips of Brett Favre on television.

Her love for animals spills into her home, which, in addition to her boyfriend, Jerry Schlesselman, and son, Kevin Pinkham, 20, she shares with three cats, two dachshunds, chickens, Schlesselman’s yellow Labrador retriever and its 10 puppies.


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