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Stubbs the cat, Alaska town mayor, mauled by dog

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(CNN) -- He's a beloved mayor, who's held the top office in Talkeetna, Alaska, for 16 years. So imagine the townfolks' shock when he was attacked.

Brutally mauled.

By a dog.

Oh, did we mention, this mayor's a cat?

Mayor Stubbs, a yellow tabby with more responsibility than your average cat, survived -- but is in bad shape.

A punctured lung. A fractured sternum. A 5-inch gash on his side.

Doctors took out a chest tube Tuesday, and he was breathing on his own for the first time since the weekend attack.

"It's a shame," said Ashley Kearns, who works at a pizza shop in the small town about 110 miles north of Anchorage. "He's the mayor, it's not a joke. I know it's ridiculous, but the town is run really well."

Political career

The story of how Mayor Stubbs rose to power made international news after he was found in a box full of kittens in front of Nagley's General Store in town.

Lauri Stec, manager of the general store, decided to keep one kitten and named it "Stubbs" because he had no tail.

Soon afterward, residents weren't happy with any of the human candidates in the upcoming mayoral election and voted for Stubbs as a write-in candidate.

The kitten won, set up its unofficial mayor's office in the general store and spent more than a decade running the town.

Because the town of Talkeetna is a "historical district," the mayoral post is more symbolic than functional, locals say. That distinction makes it easy for the community of about 800 human beings to be led by a feline.

The weekend attack

Even though dogs run loose and outnumber people in Talkeetna, the canines seem to respect Stubbs' authority, Todd Basilone, owner of Mountain High Pizza Pie told CNN last year.

But at least one dog may have had a problem with him.

Stubbs was strolling about the town Saturday night as he does every night, when an unleashed dog came running across the street and bit into him.

"He had a big gash on his side about 4-5 inches long and once we got him to the vet we found out the gash went down to his organs," said Stec. "Right now is a crucial time cause he's heavily sedated on pain meds. He's in a lot of pain."

Stubbs' medical bills could top $2,000, Stec said.

And as the mayor fights for his life, there has been no word on the suspect.

"He is a large dog," Stec said. "He's a local dog."

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