By Robert Hudson
Imagine you have a 16 year old cat that has lived indoors and accidently escapes outside over a weekend. You track the cat down to a city shelter the following Monday, (within 48 hours of when the cat was admitted) and discover when you go to pick up the cat, it has had one of it’s rear legs CUT OFF! And for no medical reason!
This is what happened to Kim Schmidt this past week in Philadelphia, PA at an animal control shelter.
The reasoning behind this is both bizzare and upsetting. Kim was first told they amputated the leg because they thought it MIGHT be broken and “looked” like the cat was in pain, and then followed that by saying the cat would have a better chance of getting adopted if the leg was amputated because of how the deformed leg would appear to people looking at it.
According to Kim, Stinky the cat was born with a deformed leg and has lived with it pain free all its life. ACCT Philly, (the animal control) has apparently not seen all the photos all over Facebook of literally hundreds of cats that drag limp legs around by wheelchairs, walkers, or just dragging them on the floor. In most cases there is no medical reason to remove the leg.
ACCT stated very openly that they did to make more room for more cats. By losing the leg, they claim the cat would be adopted sooner…(I guess 48 hours to get reunited with the owner is too longa wait)
They made the following statement on 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to answer questions about our processes. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Here is what I don’t understand. Part of their claim is that they could not assertain the injury, (birthdefect) because they don’t have an Xray machine. They do however have access to a vet, either on staff or in the community. Surely all animals they take in are medically screened and examined before being adopted out. Otherwise they could be adopting out sick and contagious animals. If they are NOT screening the animals that in itself is very disturbing….and if they can bring a cat to a vet to have its leg cut off, they can give the animal an Xray and exam. Even a quack vet has enough smarts to be able to tell if a leg is most likely broken just by FEELING IT.
This is the typical meat wagon mentality of too many animal control facilities and there really is no reason for it. There are other much better alternatives even without Xray or exam. I would imagine there are several rescues in Philly who would have gladly taken the cat without amputation if the shelter had contacted them. That is a solution many big city shelters use: developing partnerships with rescues. It just takes a little heart.
Do you support what this shelter did?