Published: Jul 20, 2014 10:26 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 21, 2014 5:32 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Veterinarians are hoping to turn a disturbing case of animal abuse into an inspiring tale of survival.

A cat miraculously survived being hit by a car, pelted with stones and shot at.

Vets with the Animal Refuge Center say Laurel the cat was left for dead on the side of the road.  They hope her case will help shine a light on a serious animal abuse problem in southwest Florida.

Dr. Laura Braun, who regularly checks in on Laurel while she recovers at Specialized Veterinary Services in Lee County, said the cat's rear leg is broken in two places, has a bone infection in her front leg, still has shotgun pellets embedded in her body, was emaciated and full of parasites when she was found on Thursday, by a roofer.

Braun says in a case like Laurel's, an animal would typically be put down, but the cat has a special will to survive.

"She's already become a staff favorite here at the hospital," Braun said.  "She's just shown that she really does have a tremendous spirit about her."

Veterinarians say it will be a couple of months before Laurel is strong enough for surgery, at which point, she will likely lose her back leg.

Braun says several staff members at SVS have offered to foster Laurel, while several members of the community have offered to permanently adopt Laurel.

"You just have to believe that she's had such a rough past, and she's been so wanting of love in her life, that now that shes finally getting it, she's taking full advantage," Braun said.

ARC, a non-profit organization, counts on donations to pay for medical treatment for rescued animals.  Braun, an employee with ARC, expects Laurel's surgery to cost up to $10,000.

For more information on how to donate to ARC, visit their website: http://animalrefugecenter.com/donate/special-medical-fund/