An Abbotsford woman says her badly injured cat was sent home this week from a local veterinary hospital without being properly assessed or provided pain medication.
Ariel Johnston has now filed a complaint with the College of Veterinarians of B.C. after another veterinary hospital discovered that her one-year-old cat Winston had two broken legs.
But the clinic that is the subject of the complaint says there has been a “terrible misunderstanding,” and the cat was indeed assessed and given a pain injection.
The incident took place last Monday (Sept. 17), when Johnston received a call from Glenn Mountain Animal Hospital on McMillan Road, alerting her that Winston had been dropped off there by someone who had found him.
Winston has a tattoo ID in his ear that matched him to Johnston.
Johnston said Winston, who is an indoor-outdoor cat, sometimes wanders off for up to 24 hours but, at that point, he had been missing for three days.
Johnston said she arrived at the clinic about 20 minutes after the phone call, and, when the woman at the front desk went back to get Winston, she heard a cat screaming in pain.
Johnston says the woman brought him to the front desk and placed him on the counter, as he continued to scream. She said Winston could not stand, and Johnston questioned whether he was medicated, but she was told he hadn’t been.
“I said, ‘This isn’t normal. Are you sure he’s OK?’ She replied, ‘No, he’s fine. He was just sleeping,’ ” Johnston said.
She said she was told that Winston had been eating and drinking, and he was good to take home.
Johnston said he screamed on the drive home, and, when they arrived, Winston continued to show signs of distress, including shaking and fast breathing.
Even more troubling was that he could not stand, and was dragging himself across the floor, using his front legs. Johnston said his lower right back leg was “obviously deformed.”
She then called her regular vet – Fraser Valley Animal Hospital – who told her Winston should be seen immediately, but they didn’t have a spot available, so they sent her to Gladys Pet Hospital on Gladys Avenue.
Right after that call, Johnston said she called Glenn Mountain to tell them what was happening with her cat, but she was then put on hold and she hung up because she was anxious to get Winston’s injury dealt with.
At Gladys Pet Hospital, Johnston said Winston was immediately assessed, and she was told he was too unstable to do further testing right away. Instead, he was placed on pain medication and put on an IV overnight.
She said the vet told her that it appeared Winston had been hit by a car. Blood tests revealed that Winston had not suffered any internal damage but X-rays showed that both of his legs were broken, the left one so severely that it likely wouldn’t heal properly and amputation was recommended.
Johnston said the veterinarian has assured her that Winston, who is in stable condition, should adapt well to having just three legs.
She said she understands that Glenn Mountain could not have done any tests or procedures on Winston without her permission, but she questions why he was not given pain medication to make him more comfortable until she arrived and why they let her walk out the door with him in such dire condition.
“This is inhumane and straight-up negligence. My boy was in pain and (they) chose to ignore it,” Johnston said.
Janice Toplass, office manager at Glenn Mountain Animal Hospital, said Winston ended up at the clinic on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 16 after they received a call about an injured cat.
The person was advised to call animal control and the SPCA, but they were both closed, so the caller was told to bring the cat to Glenn Mountain. Toplass said Winston was examined and given a pain injection, but that information did not become known to her until Tuesday, Sept. 18, when the Sunday staff came to work.
Toplass said that she had not noticed any external injuries to Winston and thought he was fine when Johnston arrived to pick him up on Sept. 17.
“We cannot do X-rays and blood work without consent of an owner or the SPCA. We have the best treatment we could at the time. We gave it pain control, a clean comfortable environmnent, food and water,” Toplass said.
“This was a terrible misunderstanding and if the owner had given us a bit more time to check with the staff that admitted the cat, we could have been able to give her that information.”
Toplass said Glenn Mountain deals with a few rescue groups, and strays are dropped off at the clinic all the time.
“We would never intentionally let an animal suffer. We are glad that the cat is getting the treatment it needed,” she said.