One Less Vet in the World Willing to Take in a Homeless Cat and Treat Him for Free

An all too familiar story in the animal welfare world has ended in needless tragedy.

In August 2013, a Good Samaritan found a sickly cat in a park in the Bronx and took him to Gentle Hands vet clinic. The clinic’s owner, Dr. Shirley Koshi, took him in and nursed him back to health. Several weeks later, Gwen Jurmark showed up at the clinic demanding the cat, called Karl, be given to her. Ms. Jurmark claimed Karl was part of a maintained colony of cats who live at the park. She believed she had legal standing to claim Karl due to the fact that she had paid for his neuter surgery some years back. Ms. Jurmark filed a lawsuit against Dr. Koshi in October after she refused to give Karl to her.

Dr. Koshi became the target of a cyberbullying campaign. (I’m only including one link as an example because I don’t want to provide these people with any more traffic than is necessary but you can Google to find more if you are so inclined.)  Ms. Jurmark also led a protest outside the Gentle Hands clinic.

[Veterinary technician Will] Page said business at Gentle Hands, which Koshi opened last July, nosedived in the aftermath of the protest. Koshi told Page she’d exhausted her savings to keep the clinic running, and a flood last month damaged the office.
[…]
“Besides financial problems, the lawsuit drove her over the edge,” Page said.

Dr. Koshi was found dead in her apartment on February 16, an apparent victim of suicide.  Authorities reportedly took the pets from her apartment, including Karl, to the NYC pound.  Ms. Jurmark went to the pound following Dr. Koshi’s suicide and got Karl back.

(Thank you Valerie and Clarice for links on this story.)

***

If you need someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 anytime, day or night.

As far as this tiny corner of the blogosphere goes, I am doing my best to err on the side of caution and quickly toss anyone who comes across as a potential That Guy.

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43 Comments

  1. mikken

     /  February 27, 2014

    The whole thing is just sad. And poor Karl is almost certainly outdoors again, in a park, rather than safe in a home.

    Reply
  2. Anne

     /  February 27, 2014

    This is unspeakably sad. And frightening. A caring vet has died. Good folks working to TNR will be maligned, I fear. I’m seeing reactions on the interwebs to “crazy cat ladies”. The only good I’m seeing is on some vets’ sites, where they are trying to reach out to each other, about compassion fatigue and suicide.

    Reply
    • I agree Anne. Those opposed to TNR – and there are many – will point to this case and attempt to paint all colony caregivers with the same broad brush. My personal belief is that the overwhelming majority of colony caregivers would be delighted to find one of their colony cats had been tamed and taken in by a compassionate person who treated him for free, believing he had no one to pay for his care. The idea behind TNR is to reduce the number of feral cats in the community over time and normally this occurs through attrition and not as a result of cats being tamed and given indoor homes by loving owners. The latter would represent a much appreciated outcome for most colony caregivers IMO.

      Reply
      • Our local TNR programs actively work on socializing and rehoming any outdoor cats who are at all receptive when they’re in for spay/neuter. One of our largest area shelters has a very active barn cat program, so that even true ferals can have real shelter and a committed caregiver.

        That anyone would object to someone taking in a previously feral cat is bizarre.

        What they did about it is cruel and depraved. What a heartbreaking story.

      • That’s why this is so confusing…WHY was the colony caretaker so adamant about getting the cat back? Did she want him to be her own indoor cat (in which case, why did she never do so when the cat was part of the colony?) I just…having a feral cat get a cushy indoor home is the *dream* for most colony caretakers, and I can’t fathom why this person would be so deadset against it.

  3. Nelson's Mama

     /  February 27, 2014

    I don’t get this at all. I maintain a colony of about twenty and if one of mine managed to find it’s way into an indoor home with a vet, I’d be tickled pink. I’m often overwhelmed at the thought of taking care of them long-term, so each one that I can get off the streets is a win.

    Reply
    • mikken

       /  February 27, 2014

      And ideally, any touchable cat would be taken off the streets and into a home. Not always possible, but if you’ve got the opportunity, you take it!

      Reply
  4. I am so sorry for the good doctor and all those who benefited from her care and compassion. I can only imagine what the anti-TNR folks will do with this. And to the “caregiver” – I don’t understand her position at all. If one of my ferals found his/her way to a wonderful indoor home, I’d be delighted. Unfortunately, this has had a bad outcome for everyone, including Karl. RIP Dr Koshi, you were doing the right thing. Tragic and so unnecessary . . .

    Reply
  5. Does anyone know what haas happened to the other pets taken to NYCACC as a result of this tragedy?

    When I first became aware of this tragedy, I had a look at the FB and twitter of the group that cyberbullied this vet. They appeared to be *gloating* about her suicide. I hope they are held accountable for what they did.

    Reply
    • Tara

       /  February 27, 2014

      Yes. The other two cats that lived in her home with her (besides Karl) were being held at the city shelter because Gwen (the person who dumped Karl in the park) insisted on placing a “hold” on them, intending to take them as well. I can’t imagine a bigger insult to Dr Koshi than having someone she rescued a cat insist on taking hers.

      Thankfully she was talked into releasing her hold. Unfortunately, that held things up for days, which meant her cats were in the filthy shelter exposed to pathogens that can (and do) kill cats. The person who has them now is an amazing rescuer and is taking very good care of both Diego and Mehboob, and is working hard to get them over being very ill as a result of all the extra days they had to spend there while the “who gets them” situation Gwen created was cleared up.

      Augustus, the cat who she rescued and who lived in her vet clinic was rescued from her office several days ago by another kind rescuer and is doing very well in foster care.

      Reply
      • Thanks for the update. I hope Diego and Mehboob make a full recovery. That woman has no decency–trying to take the cats of the person she tormented, and forcing them to spend time at the pound unnecessarily. I hope she faces consequences for what she did.

    • In case you were wondering if cyberbullies feel any remorse, click here for a screenshot taken a few minutes ago of a post on a FB page involved in targeting Dr. Koshi: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=712247605473145&set=p.712247605473145&type=1&theater

      Apparently some regard Dr. Koshi’s death as an accomplishment or at least less important than the person who started this campaign of harassment getting Karl back.

      Reply
  6. FixCharlotte

     /  February 27, 2014

    How very, very sad. Bless you Dr.Koshi. Shirley, do you know of any memorial funds set up in her honor to help other homeless animals? I think it would be fitting…

    Reply
    • Valerie sent me a link to an obituary that included this line:

      Contributions, in Dr. Koshi’s memory, may be made to The Humane Society of New York, 306 East 59th Street, New York, N.Y., 10022.

      IDK anything about the HS of NY but maybe someone else here does.

      Reply
      • I looked them up, and according to their website, they are over 100 years old and a founding member of the Mayor’s Alliance: http://www.humanesocietyny.org

        They do adoptions. DId they take in any of the other pets that landed at NYCACC as a result of dr. Koshi’s suicide? Does anyone know? It would just compound the tragedy if any of those animals died, and if other animals were killed to “make room” for them.

  7. This breaks my heart and enrages me at the same time. How would anyone involved in the care of community cats NOT want one of these souls in a home and safe. THIS mentality and her actions lead me to think a form of “hoarding.” No one can care for an animal as well as I can and they are mine….all mine…mine I tell you.

    How could anyone join in a protest against a vet that has started a new needed practice and is using her funds to care for a sickly outdoor cat. And obviously the cat was not Tipped?

    I send the universe my thoughts and prayers for Dr. Koshi and her family. I too would like to know of any memorial. HUGs all around. Such sadness.

    Reply
  8. Alyssa

     /  February 27, 2014

    It seems to me like there is a lot of crazy going on, possibly on both sides. I tried to read and get to the truth, and then just gave up. I also do not understand why the cat caretakers would not be happy that Karl was inside and had a home. If the cat caretakers needed a cat so bad, there’s plenty more, no need to fight over just one! It is all around strange. And sad.

    Reply
  9. barbmilli

     /  February 27, 2014

    Anyone that participates viciously in cyber-bullying, animal enterprise terrorism, or any number of other attacks led by people who often suffer from narcissistic personality disorder and who never do anything on their own and rally mobs to help in the attack, and if their attacks lead to suicide by the innocent party who did nothing wrong, should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law to teach other manipulators who are considering attacking with social media mobs to not do so, or else face the threat that they will spend a lot of money defending themselves, and if found guilty of wrongful death, cyber bullying leading to a persons death, etc, will hopefully also do jail time.

    Reply
  10. Peteys girl

     /  February 27, 2014

    I don’t even think the cat was actually feral , which makes it all the more heartbreaking that he had a warm home for a few months and was then put back outside

    Reply
    • If you read deeper into this, the suspicion that Karl was never feral seems to be correct. The caretaker is alleged to have a pattern of ‘rescuing’ cats from rescue groups and shelters, then dumping them outside and treating them as if they were feral colonies. To be clear, these cats never were feral…they’re housepets that lost their homes, and this woman’s idea of helping them is preventing them from getting new ones.

      Reply
  11. Leslie

     /  February 28, 2014

    Alternately, she was a vet who had bounced around 30 jobs over 30 years, dug herself a well of debt, lied to a court about the whereabouts of Karl creating a morals issue that might cost her her vet license, lived in a pricey upper east side apartment, was nominally criticized on-line and decided to check our rather than deal with her own, mostly self created, issues.
    [link removed by blog owner]

    Reply
    • Banned, obviously.

      Reply
    • You know, I almost wish you left the link up, because if it’s the link I think it is, it doesn’t show what the people who did this THINKS it show.

      The more I read, the more horrified I am. My own vet hospital has done things VERY similar to what the vet did. Injured stray is brought in by GS and an ‘owner’ later shows up with zero proof of ownership AND is unable to assure us the animal will be safely kept? I don’t just mean ‘they want the cat to be indoor/outdoor after he/she recovers’…I mean ‘we’re putting that animal back on the streets today and MIGHT check on him/her once a day, maybe.’ Yes, we absolutely did keep several animals that arrived under those circumstances. My own cat JJ was a feral stray kitten…by this group’s standards, they could arrive after several weeks and claim JJ without proof, then return him to the streets while still injured and ill.

      I also haven’t seen any straight forward denials of the accusation that the ‘caretaker’ is taking DOMESTIC cats from rescue groups and shelters and putting them on the street. Basically, she’s ‘rescuing’ cats from shelters, then dumping them outside and treating them as if they were feral, when they’re NOT. The thrust of their argument seems to be not that the caretaker isn’t doing this, but if she were, that doesn’t mean she did have legal ownership of Karl. Which, actually, that is exactly what it means. You can’t literally abandon an animal on the streets and claim you own it.

      Reply
  12. eyecatcher

     /  March 1, 2014

    Leslie – so she deserved it huh? You shame rape victims like you’re shaming Dr. Koshi? I mean, if she hadn’t been wearing that skirt right? If Dr. Koshi just didn’t live in that nice apartment right?

    You’re really a scumbag of a human being. And that’s me being nice.

    Reply
  13. Virginia Nicholson

     /  March 1, 2014

    Like so many who became friends with Dr. Koshi, I made her acquaintance through my pet. I brought in a pit bull who’d been rescued from dog fighting, and the first two vets who saw him asked me to take him elsewhere. His face was covered in scars, and these big men were afraid (this was twenty years ago, and pits weren’t as common a sight as they are now). Tiny Dr. Koshi squatted down, examined him extensively, then lifted his lips and spent quite a while scraping tartar with her thumbnail. “If he lets me do this,” she said brightly, “he’ll let you. Brush teeth!” She went on to save his life, performing a delicate and tricky surgery a year later. She phoned daily to inquire about his recovery, and we became fast friends.

    Always an advocate for the underdog, Dr. Koshi didn’t back down from an argument or a position she cared about, and it is uplifting to see so many people speaking their minds on her behalf now, standing up for her when she can no longer do so. This is a comfort for those of us who loved her and are convinced online bullies and attackers drove her to end her life. Other than signing the petition and getting others to do so, what else can I do? Is the “Tara” on this site the Tara G. who has been Dr. Koshi’s fearless advocate on other sites? Thank-you for your efforts, and please offer suggestions, if you have them, as to what more Dr. Koshi’s supporters can do.

    Reply
    • Inde

       /  March 10, 2014

      Thank you for sharing your personal experience with this wonderful doctor. I wasn’t fortunate enough to have known her, but feel terribly saddened by her death. If you’d like to continue the fight, visit banvetabuse.blogspot.com. There is continued discussion on the events and people responsible for this tragic loss, and the blogger has done an incredible job of pulling everything together. We’ve tried contacting Tara Green (Koshi’s biggest advocate), but haven’t had any luck yet. We’re hoping she’ll see one of these posts and pay a visit.

      Reply
  14. James

     /  March 1, 2014

    Karl isn’t feral and never was. Gwen “rescues” cats by adopting and abandoning social, indoor cats in public parks. Not cool, nutcase.

    Reply
  15. Valerie, I heard that Dr Koshi’s cats were pulled from ACC. Karl, however, was reportedly claimed by Gwen Jurmark (the person who smeared and harassed her). I am trying to confirm the latter.

    Reply
  16. Boris' Mom

     /  March 1, 2014

    How horrible, what is wrong with these people. RIP dear doctor. Shame on every person who harassed and bullied her.

    Reply
  17. Reblogged this on "OUR WORLD".

    Reply
  18. Susanne

     /  March 2, 2014

    Thank you Virginia Nicholson for publicizing the story of Dr Koshi’s kind and competent treatment of your rescued pit bull. I do not know any of those involved but my heart goes out to Dr Koshi and I will keep her in my mind and memories as a good person. And to those who cyber bullied her and endeavored to destroy her business, YOU ought to be ashamed! Nothing excuses your atrocious conduct! YOU have blood on your hands and you are tainted by your rabid hate. You continue to assassinate the character of a person who can not defend herself! In your ignorance and hate you exemplify evil and give a bad name to legitimate animal rescuers. Your hate will turn back to bite you as Karma follows you

    Reply
  19. Joyce

     /  March 2, 2014

    I wonder how those bullies can live with themselves knowing they contributed to the death of that caring veterinarian. I’m all for animal rights, but these protesters clearly were protesting the wrong thing. This is heartbreaking.

    Reply
  20. Shirley

     /  March 3, 2014

    This is so sad. I hate the thought that Karl is out in the cols, when he had a warm place to live and a maybe a forever home, that’s just SAD… It’s also Sad that the Vet. is no longer here.. A women who cared for animals and let me tell you I’ve ever ran across a Vet. willing to take care of a cat on their DIME.. It; hurts my heart she took her life because of the treatment she received,, And I am sorry for the lady who started the whole thing, she should be thankful that this Vet. took carte of strays.. God Bless the Vets family and friends and for the other lady I pray for you as well, God willing may your heart become soft..

    Reply
  21. Kittypurr

     /  March 3, 2014

    Absolutely dumbfounded. The NY Mob should be ashamed of themselves to be doing what they are doing. And to support a crazy position of taking house pets and dumping them on the city streets. That is insane!
    However I have seen really crazy thought processes from some rescue groups.

    Reply
  22. Inde

     /  March 4, 2014

    The entire affair is tragic and is made even worse by the fact that none of the participants engaged in the character assassination of Dr. Koshi were taken to task for their bullying and libelous comments. They continued to vilify Dr. Koshi on the Vet Abuse Network after her death and were belligerent and defiant in their stance when anyone contradicted their stories or pointed out flaws in them. Eventually, the owner of VAN deleted comments made by anyone who spoke against her or her corrupt supporters and then had the audacity to claim she herself was a victim of bullying. Pretty sad state of affairs.

    Reply
  23. Clarice

     /  March 10, 2014

    Video of Dr. Koshi speaking out.
    http://vimeo.com/88561954

    Reply
    • Inde

       /  March 10, 2014

      @Clarice I watched it and was struck by how much she really cared about pets. It really contradicts the picture Vet Abuse Network and Regret A Vet painted of her.

      Reply
      • It seems they lie for self aggrandizement. Gives them an excuse for being, not that they care. Psychiatrically, they are happy when then malign other people. They have a personality disorder as with Ms Jurmack.

  24. Ms Jumark is a special kind of narcissistic that wants to elevate her position to herself, she has BLOOD on her hands. She should be charged with harassment and cruel indifference. She has the cat placed back into a situation to be be cold and hungry. Most people would be happy if one of their cats found a loving home.

    Reply

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