The answer to the question in the title depends on the circumstances but I would never hand my cat over to a pet shop employee when the employee says to you that they have to take your cat around to the back of the shop and you can’t go with them!
For me, that would be a complete no-no. The reason is obvious; you have no idea how good the employee is or what the conditions are like where your cat will be taken. You simply have no idea whether your cat will be safe even if you have asked the shop to microchip your cat and this is exactly what happened in one of the large pet superstores in England.
Pets at Home, is a chain of pet supplies superstores in the UK. They have veterinary services attached to their shops. They appear to be advertising micro-chipping services.
One of their stores is located at the Nugent Shopping Park (see address at base of page). A lady, Laura Sloane, wanted to use the service and took her black cat to the store. On arrival at the store Miss Sloane was informed that the microchipping would take place in a warehouse behind the store. I think that would flag up some possible dangers in my mind already.
She was also told that her cat would be taken around to the back of the store but she could not attend herself. Miss Sloane was obviously trusting and handed over her cat.
Then the disaster unfolded. About 20 minutes later she heard the employee calling loudly for another member of staff. He then told her that he had lost her cat. Losing a cat in such a big warehouse facility with open access to car parks and roads around the facility would be an alarming situation and highly dangerous for a cat. Obviously Ms Sloane realised that and must have been extremely concerned and distressed as was her cat.
In order to prevent her cat escaping the building, Miss Sloane asked store management to close the store. They refused. Eventually they closed the store but it was 6 hours later (probably at closing time). Then she heard her cat crying. She found her cat hiding inside the cooling mechanism at the back of a freezer. Obviously her cat had found a small hiding place inside the mechanism of a freezer where he felt secure. No doubt, the cat was terrified (note the online media say the cat was “in a freezer” – typical news media exploitation and hyping of a story)
The in-house veterinarian at the store ran a health check on her cat. Her cat was very stressed. Apparently he still is as he hides under the bed and is too scared to come out. However, the outcome could have been much worse.
Taking your cat to a veterinary clinic and hand him over to a nurse who takes him around the back to carry out an operation is a very different situation. Although it is difficult, emotionally, to do it, you know what is going to happen and your cat is in the hands of qualified people with standards. However, in a large warehouse-like facility selling pet supplies, I don’t believe it is viable for the store owner to ask a cat owner to hand over her cat and then the cat taken around to an unknown place behind the store.
My view is that the store management should change their procedure and create a better environment in which the microchipping takes place and allow the cat owner to be present at the time. They should have greater concerns for the emotional state of the cat. This would have been a scary place; large and noisy. A cat can panic under these circumstances and clearly did and wriggled free of the person doing the microchipping. We don’t know who was doing the miccrochipping. It was almost certainly not a veterinarian. It might not have been a qualified vet tech either.
My feeling is that the whole procedure needs to be reviewed at Pets at Home.
- The story
- Address of store: Nugent Shopping Park, Cray Avenue, Orpington, Kent, BR5 3PX.