I believe a crime may have occurred with regard to Gloria, a NYC cat whose badly broken leg you see on an x-ray above. While there is no way to know how her leg was broken, we do know some facts, courtesy of John Sibley’s blog, and it is within those facts that I believe a criminal investigation is warranted.
Gloria was abandoned at an ASPCA mobile clinic in Queens, presumably in late December 2011. The ASPCA brought her to the pound. This is a copy of her cage card at NYC Animal Care & Control:
Before I get any further into Gloria’s story, I want to pause and ask you to think about something: Why would anyone leave a cat at an ASPCA vet clinic? While we don’t know the specific answer for why someone left Gloria there, I think it’s reasonable to assume that generally speaking, a person does not abandon a cat at an ASPCA vet clinic because the cat has a loving owner who is willing and able to continue caring for her. In other words, any reasonable person would assume that a cat left at an ASPCA vet clinic needs something. It may be something as simple as a home. Or, considering this was an ASPCA mobile veterinary clinic, it may be the cat needs some type of veterinary care.
There is really no way of knowing what the situation is until a vet examines the abandoned cat. My thinking is, upon discovery of an abandoned cat at an ASPCA veterinary clinic, there is an obligation to conduct a basic veterinary exam to determine at least that the cat does not need urgent medical care. If the plan was to take her to the pound, the veterinary exam would be necessary to determine that the cat was in a stable condition and ok to be transported to the pound. As such, I am operating on the assumption – although I don’t know this for a fact – that a vet at the ASPCA mobile clinic performed a basic exam on Gloria before she was sent to the pound.
Back to the known facts in Gloria’s case.
She arrived at NYCACC on 12-29-2011 and was examined (presumably by a veterinarian) on that day. She had a second veterinary exam on 1-15-12, when she was placed on the kill list for having a cold. This is a copy of the pound’s notes regarding Gloria:
Remarkably absent from the veterinary exam notes is any mention of the fact that this cat was suffering from a badly broken leg. I’m not a pet psychic but I can guess Gloria was in no small amount of pain, perhaps accounting for the “tension” noted in her behavioral exam.
Thankfully, Gloria was rescued by Pets Alive. They are not vets but after one day with Gloria, they realized something was wrong and brought her to their vet for an exam. Their vet determined her leg was broken beyond repair and amputation was required. She had the surgery the following day and is recovering well (donate to help with Gloria’s veterinary bills here). The veterinary surgeon determined that Gloria’s leg had been broken for at least a month prior to amputation.
NYCACC allowed Gloria to sit in a cage for weeks with a broken leg – long enough for her to catch a cold and be placed on the kill list. Neither veterinary exam noted her broken leg nor are there any notes about providing pain medications.
ASPCA had an obligation to have one of the vets at the mobile clinic conduct a basic exam on Gloria. I don’t know what happened there but I think probably one of the following occurred:
- The vet at the ASPCA clinic examined Gloria, found her leg was badly broken and the ASPCA decided it didn’t want to spend the money on helping Gloria so took her to the pound.
- The vet at the ASPCA clinic examined Gloria and somehow completely missed that she had a badly broken leg.
- The ASPCA performed no veterinary exam on Gloria and transported her to the pound, not knowing if her condition was stable enough to survive transport.
If ASPCA cruelty investigators raided a home, found a cat with a severely broken leg and determined the leg had been broken for at least a month, I believe the officers would arrest the owner for animal cruelty. No excuses.
In Gloria’s case, the ASPCA is potentially implicated in the crime so obviously they can not conduct an investigation. But that does not diminish the need for a cruelty investigation. Who can we contact to request a criminal investigation?
As far as non-criminal wrongdoing, I think it would be appropriate to contact the veterinary board for New York state. Hopefully the board can conduct an investigation into how a vet missed Gloria’s badly broken leg at the pound twice or if perhaps the veterinary exams are not being conducted by qualified staff. I hope the board can also determine whether the actions of the ASPCA constituted neglect, abuse or both. All of these outcomes appear to violate the state veterinary board’s rules and regulations so if any have occurred, the board will surely want to investigate.