Horrific ear-tipping by discount veterinary service
NEWS AND VIEWS-CABOT, USA: Danyelle Freeman and her family adopted a black cat who they called Batman last Christmas. She admits that she does not know much about domestic cats. They adopted Batman because they lost a cat a while back. She rang around and was advised to have her cat neutered because it would help stop him “running off”. She agreed and the Cabot Animal Shelter run a community service where cat owners can have their cats spayed and neutered at a discount price.
Only one veterinarian agrees to participate in this service and that person is Dr Mike Pallone. He and his staff (a vet tech) performed the operation. Freeman agreed that they should ear-tip Batman after the operation to indicate that he had been neutered.
Sadly, the vet tech made a mistake and cut half the ear flap off. Ear-tipping should remove the tip of the ear flap only. This should be enough to provide a visual signal that the cat has been neutered while not disfiguring the cat. It’s a compromise.
Freeman and her four boys are devastated at the result. They want answers as to what happened. Doctor Mike Pallone has apologised. The mayor understands and is sorry for the situation. The veterinarians who provide this discount service are on three-year contracts. They are fully qualified. Doctor Pallone said that they sometimes see 30 cats in one day. He emphasised that they only have a limited amount of time to do the surgeries because it’s so busy.
It’s a community service and a low-cost deal in which they perform the surgery at a fraction of what they normally make. He apologised. He said, “I will totally apologise, it was my crew’s mess up. The paperwork and all that was not double-checked and this cat was clipped or tipped for a feral instead of a house cat.”
The veterinarian has implemented changes to make sure that it does not happen again. They are going to use different paperwork of different colours and they are going to tag the cages to identify the cats to differentiate domestic cats from feral cats.
Dr Pallone does not want to besmirch the animal shelter because of this ‘accident’ as he calls it. The veterinarian emphasises that the cat is not in pain because of the surgery. They will continue providing the service.
Well, as described in the title, it is an horrific ear-tipping. It is hard to know how it happened. It appears to have been an act of pure carelessness. The veterinarian explained that the vet tech thought the cat was feral. That’s a poor excuse because the behaviour of the cat will indicate that he was not feral. Secondly, you do not ear-tip feral cats in this brutal fashion. Therefore this cannot be a good excuse.
This is not a question of differentiating domestic and feral cat and treating them differently. This is a question of very poor ear-tipping. Another point: you don’t need to ear-tip domestic cats. Perhaps Freeman agreed to it because he will be an outdoor cat. I see the advantage. Sometimes vigilantes trap outdoor cats because they don’t like them and if a cat is ear-tipped these people will know that they’ve been through the spaying and neutering process and therefore cannot procreate. This may protect them. Also when a cat is ear-tipped it may indicate that their presence is authorised by the local authority.
Conclusion: the vet tech worked carelessly and disrespectfully. We can’t be too critical because they are providing a discount and good service. I would not describe this as an accident. It’s negligent. That is a better description. Note: Freeman has a claim for compensation but the amount will be small.