Philadelphia woman enraged after shelter amputates a deformed leg on her lost 16-year-old cat

A Philadelphia woman is enraged after her cat was turned into her local animal shelter after escaping from her home on Saturday. The Animal Care and Control Team said that due to 16-year-old Stinky having “a limp” and the shelter not having the equipment to perform x-rays, one of Stinky’s legs was amputated.

Stinky has been with her owner Kim Schmidt for 16 years and has always had a deformed rear leg. The shelter performed the procedure after making the decision it would be easier to adopt out a cat with three legs than it would a cat having a mangled-looking leg.

Kim wants answers and said in an interview with Fox29 News

“Why did you do that? Why? What was the reason you had to do that to my cat– for what?”

Stinky was missing for only 48 hours but a medical decision was made to perform the procedure since the cat didn’t have on a collar and wasn’t microchipped. Kim had searched diligently for Stinky since she went missing on Saturday then learned on Monday that a neighbor had found the lost kitty and dropped her off at the shelter.

Thoughts, anyone? Please read the ACCT Philly explanation below. People are divided on whether this was a good move on the part of the shelter. Stinky had no identification on her. Cats do get loose. They sneak out, natural disasters and burglars are a few ways a cat can go missing. It’s a miracle she’s even alive.

ACCT Philly posted the following to their Facebook page

We’d like to address and clarify a recent situation with Oreo Muffin, a stray cat that had her hind leg amputated before being reunited with her owners, and explain why we made this decision.

First, we are deeply sorry and regret that her family had to go through the pain and shock of seeing Oreo Muffin cat looking different than the pet they knew and loved for 16 years. We completely understand how upsetting and shocking it must have felt to see a beloved pet missing a leg. We hope no one has to experience that kind of shock.

But please understand why we removed the leg.
ACCT Philly is Philadelphia’s only open-admission animal control shelter and we receive over 23,000 pets every year. This means our resources are limited. We are happy to provide this necessary service to the community and are committed to not only providing care to all the animals we receive, but also with finding homes or rescues for all of those pets. It’s a huge job.

When a cat like Oreo comes in with a non-weight bearing leg that is malformed, withered, and appears painful, the cat only has so many options. Our immediate priority is to triage the cat and provide care based on a medical assessment and information given to us by the person that brought the cat in. We do not have the medical capacity to perform x-rays or other diagnostic procedures.

Less than 1% of cats that come through the shelter are reunited with owners and we did not have the cage space to wait. With other pets in need pouring through our doors every day, we must make quick decisions on how to best save a pet’s life. In Oreo’s case, the best decision was to amputate the leg so she could be placed for adoption, which would not only ensure Oreo has a live outcome, but also conserves resources for the live outcome of other pets in more urgent need of medical rescue.

An amputation guaranteed that Oreo would leave ACCT Philly alive, and help other cats leave alive, too, by creating open cage space. If a deformed limb or infected eye is holding an animal back from a live exit and places them at risk for euthanasia, it is better to remove the leg or eye so the animal can go on to live a happy, healthy life. Hundreds of animals receive leg amputations every year through our medical fund – these surgeries literally save their lives.

Although we know that Oreo’s family did everything within their power to protect Oreo, we strongly urge all pet owners to consider placing a collar with contact information on their cat or have a microchip, so that when that animal enters our shelter, we can ensure the cat’s family is contacted immediately.

We would ask that anyone seeking further clarification to please contact us at me***@ac********.org. We are happy to answer questions about our processes. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Elisa Black-Taylor

Elisa is an experienced cat caretaker and rescuer. She lives in the US. As well as being a professional photographer, Elisa has been a regular contributor to PoC for nine years. See her Facebook page.

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8 Responses

  1. Susan Gort says:

    My cats were chipped from the time microchips came out (and so were my dogs). I kept their info updated and paid for the fees the chip companies charged as long as I was able to do so. My 6 cats all have microchips and are registered with Home Again. I DON’T put collars on my cats as there is a danger of catching the collar on a piece of furniture or shelving unit and I prefer to make sure they don’t come near a door when I’m going in or out. They’ve all learned when I bank on the door to go to another room-even the ones who are deaf respond that way.

  2. Michael Broad says:

    This was a bad decision as the cat belonged to someone. They had no right to remove the leg. That was criminal damage in a strictly legal sense and they could be sued I believe in the civil courts and technically I’d say it was a crime. Shelters have to wait a certain time (72 hrs?) before having the right to euthanise. The same applies to removing a leg. They acted too hastily.

  3. Jan says:

    People asking why the cat was not micro chipped 16 years ago micro chips were a new thing not all vets did it and it was expensive. This makes no sense why the shelter would amputate a cat brought in as stray that could be reclaimed???

  4. Frances A Danna says:

    Such a sad story. I have never heard of a shelter making a decision like this, without performing even an x-ray. If they cannot afford x-rays, how can they afford major surgical procedures as such? The narrator said that the shelter takes in over 15,000 cats each year, and most never find homes. I do not understand why, with such a huge influx of homeless cats, Stinky was targeted for an amputation at all, much less in 48 hours. I agree with the owner. This decision sounds like it was done in total haste and was not well thought out. I would be outraged also if Stinky was my cat.?

  5. Paula Sorg says:

    Sad outcome. Luckily the cat wasn’t euthanized instead, most are. However, I believe the owner is more to blame. No microchip? Which can be done at anytime. No collar with tag? How did cat get out? I have 3 indoor only cats. They have collars with tags on at all times, just in case they get out.

  6. Pam says:

    I read in another article that this cat did not have a collar
    or a microchip. If it had, the owner could have been called and this whole unfortunate incident avoided.

    • Pam says:

      Sorry, I didn’t read close enough. Your article also stated no collar or microchip.

    • Elisa Black-Taylor says:

      I agree. And be sure the microchip info stays up to date. Shelters try so many contacts that have changed and the number has been disconnected.

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