Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankful for the boys in blue.

What a crazy weekend.

One of my most extreme situations ever occurred this weekend, and I'm very proud of my determination in preventing animal suffering.

I arrived at work in the morning and received patient rounds from the overnight doctor.  One of the patients was a young, large beautiful cat who had arrived at 1am.   The client found this cat tragically injured after being caught in a bear trap. As the cat entered the clinic, my colleague described that he was absolutely howling in pain.  She quickly administered pain medication, despite the client's lack of ability to pay. The cat was injured nearly beyond repair.   Both hind limbs were broken, in several locations, including the feet, ankles, and tibias bilaterally.  Both hind limbs had severe degloving injuries; meaning that the skin was pulled away from the muscles, bone and tendons underneath.  Both hind legs had the pads removed, and the tissue appeared very unhealthy due to lack of blood flow and overwhelming infection setting in.   In order to try fixing this kitty's injuries, it would require far more than most veterinarians or clients are capable of - the repair would take months and months of dedicated treatment, daily bandage changes for much of that time, multiple surgeries, as well as thousands and thousands of dollars.  My heart bled for this poor, poor cat.

If the cat was a human, amputation would probably be performed, however, a human has the ability to use a wheelchair, have assistance, and understands what is happening to them.  A cat without hind limbs would be bordering on inhumane.

Unfortunately, the client was out of her mind crazy.  She also had not a penny to contribute towards any sort of care.  Let me reiterate that this was not a "give him some medicine and he'll be okay" situation.  If this cat had been my own, I don't think that even I would have chosen to try to treat him.  His injuries were massive.

The client had spent 5-6 hours trying to obtain any sort of financial assistance. By the time I arrived, the cat had been suffering for far too long.

I stepped in to her exam room.  Immediately, I knew that something was off.  The client could not sit still, could not make eye contact, and was agitated.  She did not answer any questions or respond to my comments, she instead spoke to herself and rocked back and forth.  In my experience with 'crazy' clients, she looked like a typical methamphetamine addict.

Then the unthinkable happened.  The client demanded to take her cat home, without treatment.

I was stunned.  Nobody in their right mind would think of doing that to a poor, innocent cat.  Of course, this woman was definitely NOT in her right mind.

I stated plainly - "I will not allow you to take this cat home without treatment.  This is cruel, and definitely classifies as animal neglect.  I will report you to animal control and the authorities if you try to leave the building with your cat.  I know that it is a very sad situation, but your cat is suffering and it is my job to make sure that all my patients are relieved of suffering.  Even if you had a million dollars, I honestly can't guarantee that this could be fixed. "

She didn't get it. She tried to walk out of the building with her cat, and could not listen to reason.  I had had enough and could not stand to watch the cat writhing in pain for one second more.

I contacted our local police department and asked them to assist in enforcing animal cruelty laws, as I do not have the authority to confiscate a pet.

The police arrived and dealt with the crazy woman for about an hour and a half.  She screamed, yelled, and threw things.  She lied to the police and made up a story about another clinic doing thousands of dollars of treatment "for free."  She made up crazy stories and eventually, the police told her that she could either agree to treat her cat (and present the funds necessary to do so), could agree to euthanize her cat, or she would be thrown in jail for animal cruelty.  The cops prepared for a battle as the woman kicked, screamed, spit and was a all-around psycho as they escorted her from the building.

We couldn't thank the police officers enough for helping us to prevent this poor, sweet cat from suffering for one minute more.  We pet him, told him what a good kitty he was, and teared up as I euthanized him.

For readers who have never experienced this sort of situation, I realize that it may sound odd that I fought for the ability to euthanize this cat.  If left untreated, this cat would have died after days or weeks of suffering incredible pain, being unable to move, and having massive infection take over his wounds.  The veterinary oath demands that I will use my skills for the "prevention and relief of animal suffering".  There was truly no chance for healing and I couldn't allow this crazy person to torture an innocent pet.

Tough day.  More stories to come.


  1. Holy crap! That's intense. You did the right although difficult thing. Thanks for looking out for that poor cat.

  2. A terrible situation but the cat had you to prevent more suffering. Doing what is right is not necessarily easy.. You did good Doc!