Local News

Thursday, May 15 2014 04:57 PM

Hero cat, owners still like catnip to media

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Four-year-old Jeremy sits with his parents Roger and Erica Triantafilo and his cat Tara on May 14. The cat became a hero when a dog attacked Jeremy in his front yard on Eagle Vista Drive in Bakersfield and Tara came out and chased the dog away. Jeremy needed stitches for severe bites to his leg and his mother also needed medical aid from bites she sustained while protecting her son. A video of the incident has gone viral, creating national media attention.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    A cat that was stray in 2008 ended up being an instant hero for the Triantafilo family when it chased away a dog during an attack of 4-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo on May 13.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Four-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo looks out of the window at his home in southwest Bakersfield with his cat Tara Wednesday. The cat became a hero when a dog attacked Jeremy in his front yard on Eagle Vista Drive in Bakersfield and Tara came out and chased the dog away. Jeremy needed stitchea for severe bites to his leg and his mother, Erica, also needed medical aid from bites she sustained while protecting her son.

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BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer tdouglas@bakersfield.com

First things first: Tara the cat doesn't have an agent, isn't in rehab, and won't be taping an episode of "Oprah's Master Class" this season.

Three days after making headlines from Taiwan to Australia for saving 4-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo from being bitten by a dog and dragged away, the courageous mixed breed cat is "being incognito" according to her human spokes-mom.

After sitting for interviews with "Good Morning America," and waking up in the wee hours Thursday to greet the "Today" show, owners Roger and Erica Triantafilo of southwest Bakersfield are feeling equally drained and in need of some quiet time.

Roger edited and posted security camera footage of the cat-dog confrontation to YouTube, to let friends and family know what happened -- but local media helped make it an international incident.

"We posted the video early Wednesday morning and it's just loaded up from there. I don't think people realize we're still dealing with police reports and dealing with my son's health," Erica Triantafilo said Thursday. "I don't think there was necessarily a difficult moment. I think the entire experience was so overwhelming."

Jeremy needed 10 stitches Tuesday afternoon to close wounds to his left calf as well as a course of antibiotics. His mom was also bitten and got a tetanus shot.

The dog's owners surrendered it to the City of Bakersfield Animal Care Center. It will be quarantined for 10 days, then put down, according to a Bakersfield Police Department spokesman.

Tara's history as a former stray herself contributed to this cat-chases-dog-that-bites-boy story's nine lives.

Social media users quickly decided Tara was equal parts hero and ninja. Twitter patrons added the hashtags #herocat and #ninjacat to their musings and three Twitter feeds devoted to Tara sprang up.

Not to be outdone, Facebook users started at least five accounts, also centered on Tara's heroic ninja-like exploits.

At least one meme is circulating -- poking fun at the infamous Jay Z-Beyonce-Solange Knowles elevator fracas, exact details of which are murky.

The meme features a picture of Jay Z asking where the (can't-print-in-a-family-newspaper) cat was when Knowles, his sister-in-law, was captured on security footage punching and hitting him.

Serious national media -- NBC, ABC and CBS, not to mention CNN, the New York Times, and their international counterparts showed healthy interest, too .

"I did a radio talk show in Australia -- I forget the gentleman's last name," Triantafilo said. "And then we got people from Ireland and Hong Kong wanting to purchase and help market the video."

The parents are considering an offer from a company interested in managing the video -- keeping a portion of any profits but sending "more than double" what it takes to the family.

"It is still our video. However, they are going to handle things from now on, and we are going to make a college fund or just set up an account for my son," Triantafilo said. "Whether he goes to college or just grows up and needs to make a down payment on a house, we want to make sure if we do anything it's going to benefit him in the best way."

Two local offers have also materialized. The Condors are interested in having Jeremy drop the puck at a game, once the team returns from dealing with the Alaska Aces.

The Bakersfield Blaze announced it has invited Tara and the Triantafilo family to throw out the ceremonial first pitch Tuesday at Sam Lynn Ballpark.

"Will Tara be able to toss a proper two-whisker fastball?" the press release purred. "Only time will tell."

 

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