Domestic cat bit veterinary technician at clinic and was immediately “euthanized”
This cat should not have been killed by this veterinarian. It was shoddy, lazy veterinary work at best. The story unfolds slowly and in a sinister way. In America rabies is a rare but active and very dangerous disease and therefore strict precautions must take place to prevent people contracting it.
“I can’t stop crying…..I feel like I let Oliver down..”
A veterinary technician, Kaitlin Neal, took a cat, Oliver (who I believe was owned by someone else), to what I believe was the Odenton Veterinary Hospital. This is in Maryland, USA. I don’t know why Oliver was taken to the vets but Kaitlin agreed to bloodwork and to the de-matting of his coat. In the consultation room Oliver purred. In fact he purred so much that they had to stop him by putting a cotton ball with alcohol on it in front of him. They did this because they wanted to check his heart beat and his purring masked the sound. Clearly, Oliver was friendly but no doubt anxious. He was a socialised, domesticated indoor/outdoor cat. He was elderly and perhaps a little neglected by his owner(s) judging by the photo (this fact may have encouraged the vet to adopt a less caring attitude). The video below shows him in a cat carrier.
Update: 4th August 2017 — A couple of visitors to this page have commented and provided the hospital’s response for which I am grateful (see below). Soon, I will write another article and publish the hospital’s statement. I will also comment on their statement. I am keen to present balanced, fair reporting (Admin).
Here it is:
August 6th: there is a further update to complete the story. It’s a prequel, the time when Oliver was trapped. It tells us for sure that Oliver was completely domesticated but neglected. Click this to read it.
Oliver was examined by Dr Kellie Corcoran. Oliver was taken out of the consultation room. It appears he was carried out because his carrier was left behind. Kaitlin waited patiently. The veterinarian returned after a few minutes and told her that Oliver had jumped off the table after they had drawn blood. Because of this they said they wouldn’t be able to groom him. I’m not sure why they made this rather bizarre decision but read on.
The veterinarian took the cat carrier out of the room where Kaitlin was waiting. The veterinarian then comes back into the room and told Kaitlin that as they were putting Oliver back into the cat carrier he had bitten the veterinary technician. Comment: this is predictable for a cat under these circumstances. It does not mean anything other than that the cat is anxious and has become defensively aggressive. Anybody with experience of cat behaviour would realise this.
The fact that Oliver had bitten the veterinary technician created a problem. The problem was the question whether he had rabies or not, bizarre as that might sound to international visitors from countries other than America to this website.
The veterinarian made it quite plain to Kaitlin that she had no option but to euthanize Oliver. Kaitlin asked whether they could contact animal control to see whether Oliver could be placed into quarantine to check whether he had rabies or not.
CDC write: If you were bitten by a cat, dog, or ferret that appeared healthy at the time you were bitten, it can be confined by its owner for 10 days and observed. No anti-rabies prophylaxis is needed. No person in the United States has ever contracted rabies from a dog, cat or ferret held in quarantine for 10 days.
The veterinarian responded by saying “that would mean we would have to get postexposure shots”. This means that the veterinary staff would have to be treated as if they been bitten by a cat who had rabies (as I understand it).
Kaitlin requested that the veterinarian call animal control – she was desperately trying to save Oliver. She made it clear that the cat had had no issues in the past and was a house cat. Oliver deserved a chance she said. Veterinarians should know that cats in veterinary clinics can behave like this.
The veterinarian then walked out of the room and returns five minutes later claiming that she had talked to animal control. She did not provide the name of the officer with whom she had spoken. She said that she had to euthanise Oliver and that there was no quarantine option.
Kaitlin did not have the opportunity to speak to animal control. Oliver was immediately euthanized (killed is the better description). Kaitlin was not given the opportunity to say her goodbyes. Kaitlin says that when a veterinary technician or veterinarian handles an outdoor/indoor cat then they know they have to handle them properly to prevent being scratched or bitten. It could be argued that the veterinary staff mishandled the situation and are the authors of this catastrophe.
Kaitlin had to pay her bill even though her cat was taken from her and euthanised without her permission. She is very upset. She is angry. Kaitlin writes:
“This cat was let down. Let down by his owners, by the community, and quite honestly by this vet. This has to stop.”
Kaitlin did not want to leave the matter without resolving some outstanding issues. She called the veterinary clinic again requesting the name of the animal control officer that the veterinarian had telephoned. She was told that they spoke to Officer Herbert. Kaitlin spoke to Officer Herbert who told her that Dr Corcoran had never spoken to her. Officer Herbert said that she had received a call that the veterinary clinic and a “pick up”. The protocol would have been a ten-day quarantine in Kaitlin’s home and then to vaccinate for rabies afterwards. The animal control officer said that the veterinarian was in the wrong.
It is quite clear that animal control did not tell Dr Corcoran to euthanize the cat. Animal control also said that they were told by the veterinarian that Oliver was feral and had no family and was fractious. Because of this misleading information from the veterinarian animal control informed the veterinarian that a ten-day quarantine could be done but if he was fractious and could not be touched then it would be impossible to quarantine him.
It would appear that the veterinarian misled animal control and received back information which supported what she wanted to do in the first place which was to kill Oliver to avoid the inconvenience of being given postexposure shots.
As mentioned, Kaitlin never signed a release form allowing euthanasia and was never given the option of putting Oliver into quarantine for 10 days even though animal control had said that they were the options. Kaitlin made it clear that she wanted the quarantine option for Oliver.
To me it is clear that Oliver was unnecessarily killed by the veterinarian because it was more convenient to do so than to put him into a ten-day quarantine. A bad veterinarian and extremely upsetting. May Oliver rest in peace bless him.
Update: A subsequent test on Oliver (I believe this is obligatory) showed that he did not have rabies. This does not surprise me as there were no signs of it. Oliver’s behavior was normal.
Source: Facebook post by Kaitlin Neal.