Categories: Animal Cruelty

Nonprofit animal rescue group unethically used terminally ill cat to raise funds

Apparently this happens quite a lot. It is disturbing. A volunteer run, 501c(3) non-profit rescue group called Furrever Grateful Rescue (FGR) used a terminally ill cat, Sandy, with eye cancer, for fundraising. In doing so the cat suffered unnecessarily. As it happens, a veterinarian working with FGR was criticised and his licence revoked (Aug 31, 2016) for operating on the cat several times without keeping proper records and without providing a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment plan.

FGR, it was decided, had worked within the letter of the law and therefore were not punished. However, it seems to me that FGR were the prime movers and shakers in the story. I would allege that they may have instructed the veterinarian concerned, Dr Ryan James Whitney, to keep the cat alive rather than take the humane route of euthanasia.

Here is some detail: FGR had taken charge of a cat suffering from a terrible tumour in his face which was eating away at the left side of his face including the eye, part of the nose and mouth. FGR took Sandy to a Long Beach-based animal hospital called Primary Care Animal Hospital. At the hospital Dr Whitney removed tissue from the eye area three times. As mentioned he did not take biopsies, nor provide a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment plan.

Sandy lost weight to 6 pounds. The tumour, it is said, consumed his face. Sandy suffered and wasted away. There is a photo but I won’t show it. It is too far too uncomfortable to see. It is nothing short of shocking. How they could have allowed this, beggars belief.

Later on FGR took Sandy to a different hospital. It could be alleged that they did this because Dr Whitney refused to treat the cat any longer and possibly recommended euthanasia.

At the new hospital the veterinarian diagnosed end-stage squamous cell carcinoma and recommended euthanasia. There was no effective treatment and Sandy was in a terrible condition. He refused to eat and therefore it was clear that euthanasia was the only course of action.

Despite the veterinarian’s recommendation, FGR took Sandy to a warehouse where he was checked on daily. As a result the second veterinarian was so disturbed that he contacted the Los Angeles SPCA and the veterinary board, presumably about Witney. This resulted in his licence being revoked. The SPCA found that FGR was using Sandy’s condition for fundraising on social media. As mentioned, this apparently is not an uncommon practice. We know it’s purposes: to tug at the heartstrings of generous cat lovers to elicit generous donations from them.

However, the SPCA stated:

“It is unclear why Whitney or Furrever Grateful Rescue allowed the miserable suffering of this animal… Whatever their intentions, whether motivated by naivete or greed, this kind of cruelty is beyond words. No living being should ever suffer like that.”

FGR were not charged with animal cruelty because the evidence was not strong enough. They had provided medical care although clearly it had gone on far too long. The Attorney General checked at the time whether FGR had complied with annual nonprofit regulations (probably satisfactory as FGR are still running). Their social media account appears to have disappeared. They don’t have a Facebook presence as at July 2017. At the time they had a website but that appears to have disappeared as well.

The story makes uncomfortable reading because of poor Sandy’s suffering. It is about collusion between a rescue organisation who behaved unethically and a vet who did likewise. Fortunately another veterinarian stepped in and stopped the whole inhumane process.

Sources: Various but primarily:

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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