ANDOVER, UK – NEWS AND OPINION: an employee at the counter at a well-regarded veterinary clinic in Andover, Anton Vets, made a serious mistake when she turned away a woman who had come into the surgery with a dead cat. The woman was doing what she was advised to do. In the UK, when you find a cat that has been killed on the road you take the body to the nearest veterinary surgery where they can scan it for a microchip which allows them to contact their owner. I’m sure this applies anywhere.
The incident was reported on Facebook and the post was picked up by the veterinary surgery. A spokesperson for Anton Vets said that they had carried out an internal investigation and found that the complaint was true and apologised unreservedly. There is no doubt that this is a good veterinary clinic because there’s lots of excellent feedback in general and from people who read this story. But clearly the person who made the mistake had not been trained adequately.
Ultimately, I think that it is fairer to say that the blame lies at the feet of the management of the clinic, which is probably the partners, if this is an independent clinic, as I believe it is. It may have been the first time that the counter staff are dealt with such an incident and therefore decided on their response without training.
If a person finds a dead cat and is unable to find a veterinary clinic nearby they can contact their local Cats Protection branch to report the death. Further, members of the public can report the matter to the RSPCA central helpline on 0300 1234 555. Also, you can report the matter to the local authority. They may have a dead animal removal service. However, the essential task is to contact the owner through microchip data (if present) because they’ll want to know what has happened. They can then deal with all the usual formalities of a cremation if that is what they request.
Of course, the cat may be injured in which case it is all the more important to get the animal to a veterinary surgery as quickly as possible. Every veterinary surgery in the UK is obliged by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to treat any animal in an emergency. They must give first aid and pain relief. A person finding an injured cat on the road or anywhere else will not be charged by the veterinary clinic.
I’ve made the presumption that the cat was killed on the road. It is the most likely cause of death although the newspaper reporting the incident does not specify what happened. In the UK, where cats are let outside almost all the time, around a quarter of a million cats are killed annually on the roads. That is an estimate and the true figure may be higher.