The Responsibility of Serving Others
On Friday April 19, after getting my courage up, i took 2 feral cats we’ve spent months working on socializing, to the closest clinic that will provide spay/neuter services to ferals. When you live in rural areas options are limited for these services and you count on the ones that are available.
I paid extra not to have their ears tipped. I have been teetering on the edge of just taking them in and making our house a 4 feline abode so I wanted their ears left intact. I left them there after requesting an early pickup of 1230pm instead of 430pm since I live some distance away.
By 1240pm they were in the car and I had paid the bill and donated $10 extra and said a million thanks.
On the way home I had to roll the window down the smell of urine in the car was so extreme. I just assumed they’d set the carrier in some piss or something. When I got them locked in my office at home and opened the carrier doors I was horrified to discover that they were dripping urine off their fur.
When I say dripping I mean as if you poured a bucket of urine over them. I was so stunned I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t open the door or the windows and we were all gagging on the stench. I was able to pet the younger one that we call Junah a few moments. He was less wet because his carrier had a cloth bottom (destroyed by the urine soaking into the inner wood core aloss of $45.00).
I had to get towels, they were dripping urine on the carpet and had flung it onto my pastels (a loss of $50.00 as the urine soaked into them). I thought I was opening the door fast enough but Junah escaped, running so fast for the cat door I couldn’t catch him. More upset now that the young one, only a few hours out of surgery, was now loose in the neighborhood and as the reality of how they’d been treated started to sneak in I stopped crying and began to get angry.
I got the towels and spread them around. The older one we call Hoot is still untouchable but at least he could sit on a towel and drip. He was already trying to clean himself, cheeks up in disgust. The stench in the room was making my eyes water, I felt so bad for him with the more sensitive senses and I was crying again worrying about Junah stumbling around outdoors. I was just grateful it was a relatively warm day.
I left a long message for Every Creature Counts, the clinic that had done the deed. I thought back to the over 25 or more animals I’ve taken in for surgery throughout my pet owning life and no, I had never once gotten one back wet and certainly not neglected to this extent. I struggled with my emotions which ranged from sorrow and regret to guilt for taking them there to rage at people who would allow this to happen to a vulnerable animal.
And while being soaked in urine for hours is not the worst that could have happened (they could have died from bad care) but it calls into question – what else is happening in that clinic? Are other animals dying? Are the clinic conditions sterile at all? Who is monitoring this place and when is the last time they took a look?
It is now Monday evening and it took this long to find the right agency in which to report the negligence. ECC did not return my call. I have posted negative reviews and I will be following up with every agency I can find.
I am not a grievance filer. I will call and complain about bad service and I will also call and compliment the good. I have donated an art gift certificate to their fundraising efforts and wasn’t offered a ticket to the event or ever told what happened to it. I let that go because I know what non-profits are like. I put up with their spotty communication when I’ve had questions in the past. I ignored the other bad reviews.
This one I am not letting go. I can’t.
When we take our animals to vets and children to doctors and dentists we expect that they will be treated well. We have to trust that what needs to be done will be done. I find it hard leaving any animal at the vet, they can’t tell me how it went, Hoot and Junah didn’t need words to let me know that no one had cared for their well-being and comfort.
Although pets aren’t property in my mind vets are invested with a fiduciary responsibility to the animals they agree to treat. Not only vets but all the staff from the receptionist to the board members to the licensing boards and the owners of the clinics. We are giving them lives that are precious to us and we expect that responsibility will be taken seriously.
When we take our animals in, we are handing over pieces of our hearts to people we sometimes don’t know. At ECC I’ve never even seen the vet and although the last 2 animals I took in were fine, it was a different vet from this one who couldn’t even accurately estimate the cats ages. The other vet could.
Just because a clinic is low cost should not mean our animals get low service. These 2 cats have led hard and painful lives so far. Their experiences with us as humans have been mixed. Lately they’ve had it good, regular food, shelter from the elements and an invitation to move indoors which they both took over the course of several months and now they’ve experienced what they expected all along. Carelessness and callous disregard.
This changes what I can do in our community for Trap-Neuter-Return as now the closest clinic is an hour away versus 20 minutes. It also costs more which means less animals get TNR services. This is disappointing on so many levels.
Lesson? Don’t ignore bad reviews on Google and Yelp. Ask to meet the vet first, talk to some prior clients. CHECK THE ANIMALS STATUS BEFORE YOU LEAVE! And if you fall victim to an incident like this report it, It has been time consuming leaving calls with agencies to find the right avenue but do it – the animals have no voice.
We must be the vox felina and canis and we must speak for them all the time without fail. We too are responsible for those we agree to serve.
And so you know, Hoot and Junah (who returned 8 hours later) stunk of urine for two days. Their incisions are adequate and they are recovering nicely in spite of their neglectful care. Thank you to everyone, again, for all the support for these cats!