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Italian reservist faces military jail for saving pregnant cat

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A reservist in the Italian Army is now facing up to a year in military jail after saving the life of a dying pregnant cat, Pussington Post reported January 12.

Lieutenant Barbara Balanzoni is a medical officer at a NATO base in Kosovi. Agata, an Italian cat, was having difficulty giving birth to her final kitten when things went very wrong. Agata was dying, and Barbara, who was standing in for the veterinary officer who was off base at the time, decided to help.

For her kindness, Barbara is now set to stand trial next month in military court in Rome. She's been charged with gross insubordination, which carries up to a year in jail if she's convicted.

Part of the problem is that there are many stray cats living on base property. Many of those in military service there have befriended the cats and try to help them. But according to military regulations the cats shouldn't be approached or allow the cats to come near personnel stationed at the NATO base.

Saving animals in need is nothing new to Barbara. In 2012, she saved eleven dogs from Kosovo and two dogs from Afghanistan. Barbara believes she's done nothing wrong, and stated

“Far from disobeying orders, I was following military regulations, which state that, in the absence of a vet, the medical officer should intervene.”

Agata's tale began one day when her cries of pain were reported by military personnel to Barbara. The cat was delivering a litter of kittens, but was exhausted to the point she couldn't give birth to the last one. Barbara helped Agata deliver the final kitten, who was stillborn. Without help, Agata would most likely have died, as the nearest veterinarian was a good distance from the NATO base.

If Agata had died, the entire area would have needed disinfecting, and the kittens would be orphaned with no way to be fed. It's doubtful the Italian military would have authorized bottle feeding, given their opinion on stray cats.

Lt. Barbara Balanzoni defends her decision to help the stray cat. She believes she was following military regulations, which state that in the absence of a veterinarian, the medical officer should intervene. Barbara WAS that medical officer, and she has been "thanked" by being returned to her civilian life and career as an anesthetist in Tuscany, facing charges of insubordination for saving the life of a dying cat.

Ente Nazionale Protezione Animali, Italy's oldest animal defense association, is involved in the case. From what I've read, the animal group will stand behind Barbara, who was following her heart to save this cat family. Not only did Agata survive, but so did all of her kittens except the final one who was stillborn.

Barbara is a hero among cat lovers, and a petition has been set up here to express outrage over how this situation has been handled. The petition currently has more than 72,000 of their 73,000 goal. I've included the photo listed on the petition page, but I'm not sure whether this is Agata.

Do you feel Lt. Barbara Balanzoni violated military regulations? Would you have done the same under the circumstances? I know I would. I think it's sad that a fine lady's military career could be ended because she showed compassion toward a helpless animal.

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