Every right to be proud

Published 9:53 pm Monday, June 6, 2011

Recently, a small, adorable kitten captured the hearts and minds of the people of Suffolk and around the world — but, for the most part, not in a good way.

At the beginning of last week, we learned that the stray kitten allegedly had been abused by a pre-teen at a downtown apartment complex. The kitten — which Facebook users dubbed “Little Heart” because of a drawing of a blue heart on its cast — later died of its injuries, which included a broken leg and bruises to the lungs.

The good news that came out of that was the heartwarming story of 9-year-old Jamarea Mills, who came to the rescue of the kitten by knocking a pocketknife out of the older boy’s hand.

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When I tracked down Jamarea at his mother’s apartment, I found a remarkable young man and a wonderful mother who is training her four boys right.

Jamarea, I learned, wants to be a veterinarian when he grows up and has always had compassion for animals, even though he has never had a pet of his own. They’re not allowed to have pets at their apartment, Jamarea’s mother told me, though various family members have had several dogs throughout the years.

Jamarea is a soft-spoken young man who was polite throughout all of the media attention he received. He told me he didn’t know why anyone would want to harm an animal, and he described his heroic deed.

He and a group of other children had been playing with the tiny animal by sliding it down the baby slide at the park — a seemingly innocuous way to enjoy the company of a feline friend, as long as the kitten didn’t mind.

But suddenly, their fun was ruined when an older child decided to carry out some cruel deeds upon the tiny kitten.

After the baby cat had been thrown against a wall and beaten with a stick, the abuser then allegedly brought out a pocketknife, at which point Jamarea took action.

He smacked the knife out of the boy’s hand and found himself a local hero.

Thousands of people from all over the world have joined a Facebook page — “Jamarea Mills is a hero” — honoring him. Media coverage went on all last week.

But Jamarea doesn’t seem to be fazed by any of it. He said only that he was “proud” of his actions.

Well, Jamarea, you should be. And your mother should be proud, as well. It seems she raised a wonderful young man who will continue doing good things for animals someday.