How closing down a cat sanctuary can make a lot of money for a veterinarian

Veterinarian Ms Jacqui Paterson tipped off the RSPCA about a cat sanctuary run by Sarah Mellanby. I have to presume that the tipoff was that the sanctuary was badly run and that the RSPCA needed to raid it and seize the cats. On the face of it this was a case of a cat rescue that had turned into cat hoarding and the RSPCA had to step in, in the interests of the cat welfare.

But it was not quite as straightforward as that. There was a connection between the RSPCA and the veterinarian concerned. The veterinarian’s practice manager had early moved from her veterinary practice to become an RSPCA inspector. Therefore there was an open channel of communication between the veterinarian and the RSPCA.

Veterinarian makes a lot of money from cat sanctuary closure
Veterinarian makes a lot of money from cat sanctuary closure
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Once the RSPCA had been notified by veterinarian Ms Patterson, the cats were seized and in effect the sanctuary was shut down. Of course at that stage the cats needed to be checked over by a veterinarian and treated if required. Ms Patterson was the vet who did the work and she charged the RSPCA £42,930. In addition she charged £11,724 for her time in giving evidence at subsequent court proceedings.

Therefore, the veterinarian made a substantial income out of tipping off the RSPCA about this so-called mismanaged cat sanctuary. But the sanctuary wasn’t that bad as I read the story.

Mrs Mellanby vigorously denies the allegations against that her sanctuary was poorly run and that the cats in her care were in need of medical treatment due to neglect. In fact, she is appealing a decision of the Magistrate’s Court, so convinced is she that she is correct in her assessment.

Mrs Mellanby said that she was tricked out of handing over cats to the RSPCA. She says she was told that they will be returned the following day.

Thirty-seven cats have subsequently been re-homed (19 are at another shelter) and Mrs Mellanby has been ordered to pay court costs of £50,000. In addition, she has been banned from keeping cats for 10 years. Her costs are climbing and she may have to sell her home. Her life is messed up.

The real point of this story is not whether the sanctuary was badly managed or whether Mrs Mellanby was a cat hoarder or not. The point is that the veterinarian made a very large sum of money out of reporting the sanctuary to the RSPCA. This, it is argued (and I would agree) is a potential conflict of interest.

The motivation to report the sanctuary was quite possibly to make money rather than a concern for the welfare of the cats or at least the welfare of the cats was a secondary concern. This is an interesting aspect of cat seizures from sanctuaries. There is money to be made out of unfortunate circumstances and cats in ill health. The fact that she did charge over £40,000 does indicate, one has to admit, that the cats did require treatment. However, we don’t know whether the fees were inflated and we don’t have details about the condition of the cats. I have a feeling that the cats were in not in as poor a condition as stated by the RSPCA.

For all we know, there may have been an underhand agreement between the manager at the RSPCA and the veterinarian in question which allows both of them to profit from seizures of large numbers of cat. I’m not saying that’s the case. I am just suggesting that it might be the case. Also there may have been a vendetta by the RSPCA against the sanctuary owner because, as an interesting aside, Mrs Mellanby used to work at the RSPCA and she left them because she was sick of the way animals are routinely put to sleep by the RSPCA. Her sanctuary was a no-kill rescue centre. She was critical of the RSPCA.

Perhaps the RSPCA wanted to shut her up and the vet wanted a sharp increase in income at the same time. I am being somewhat cynical but you get that way in time.

One of the cats from the sanctuary was kept by the vet and subsequently killed by a dog at her surgery. Make of that snippet of info what you will.

Source: Daily Mail newspaper – hard copy version.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

14 thoughts on “How closing down a cat sanctuary can make a lot of money for a veterinarian”

  1. Absolute nonsense – she was a hoarder not looking after the animals – you’d be terrified of UK animal welfare if you saw exactly the state and lies provided by some ‘rescues’ I’ve seen loads!!! This article twists the evidence and ignores the animals which were not being looked after, nor did this person prove she even had the means to inoculate any of the cats which were infected and passing it to each other! THATS HOARDING NOT ANIMAL WELFARE!!!!

    If the link of the inspector is all you’re going off, you do realise that Sarah Mellanby also worked for the RSPCA prior and knew exactly how cats should be treated and cared for, with all the required infection control procedures yet didn’t, nor did she pay attention to any of the prior notices provided by the RSPCA!

    While calling her a ‘sanctuary owner’ its either a charity owned by the public or a private dwelling who is hoarding cats!

    To say this site is Passionate about Cat Welfare and post an article like this is ridiculous! Check the facts before you reiterate a Dailymail article!

    Another example of a ‘rescue’ which people falsely believe is doing good exposed here!

    1. Thanks for visiting and commenting Dan. I am pleased you commented. All I can do it comment on what I read. I am cynical and careful but without first hand evidence I am in hands of others. I am passionate about cat welfare. Really. It’s true.

    2. This is P.S. I don’t think you have fully read the article. I am not saying she was not a hoarder. I am saying the vet made some money out of it.

  2. This whole debacle smacks of nepotism, collusion, and with the end result of possible animal cruelty, depending on the ultimate care of the cats removed from the sanctuary.

    In my opinion, the RSPCA is culpable in that its inspector was once employed by the reporting Veterinarian, Ms. Patterson. Furthermore, the RSPCA entered into “business” with Ms. Patterson, by employing her to handle the veterinary care of the impounded cats. This doesn’t seem wise, under the circumstances.

    Thus it seems to be a matter of “one hand washing another” on one side, with the defendant of the criminal charges “taking a bath” on the other side.

    1. That perfect home doesn’t exist for many animals. So unless she had real violations and some complaints nothing good was accomplished.

  3. Now I don’t know all the facts, but they worked together for the Vets benefit and the RSPCA.

    Did the cats come out ahead in the process? I have to wonder about this.we are aware that their are so called animal lovers out there who will rush in to rescue and adopt a pet to feel good about themselves. Like a temporary high some hoarders get from finding a treasure at the flea market Double Pun Intended here.Unfortunately they loose interest before the animal can acclimate to a new environment.


    1. Eva, there have been instances of the RSPCA being too eager to prosecute and cats have suffered or been put down as a result. I am not sure the cats came of well at the end of this event.

      1. Harsh reality here. Just about everyone could be found in violation of some animal cruelty law if you have someone eager to pursue it. I have seen AC laws pressed on an unbalanced scale many times. A rescue of private citizen pisses off the wrong person and they grow a target on their back. There is a dog rescue a few miles from here that I think is appalling. Yet AC can’t say enough good about them. She’s taking all the dogs that can’t be adopted and caging them. That way the county shelter maintains a near zero euthanasia rate.

  4. In our state a veterinarian is mandated to report AND they cannot be held accountable for any resulting investigation by the pet owners if it’s unfounded.

  5. Now only if it would be so easy to get the authorities to respond to a citizens complaint about a bad veterinarian.

  6. it sounds the same someone just wanting money the root of all evil I don’t believe that they even cared about the cats truly they only cared how it sounds to me about the money.

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