Thursday, June 8, 2017

"It's Not My Cat Either"

Seems that many people believe that every stray, hurt, or unwanted animal is the vets responsibility. It's as if everyone in the community believes that we have signed some imaginary contract, or make some voluntary pledge upon graduation, to the neighborhood we hang our shingle in that we are the local receptacle for all things four legged in need.

Mystique and Cy.
Both are at the clinic now and in need of a home.
I suppose many would say that I did it to myself. That when we at Jarrettsville Vet began taking on these forlorn creatures who had no other compassionate options elsewhere that we were opening Pandora's box and inviting the perception that we are also a shelter. What else was I supposed to do? If I can help I feel obligated and compelled to do so. And so we do. We try very hard to do as much as we can. But when you crack the gates you should be prepared for the flood to follow.

We are now getting calls from loads and loads of people. It was intended to be a safety net for our patients and clients but has become pleas from friends of "friends", shelters referring anyone and everyone, and even other vets referring their financially strapped clients to us. It becomes unmanageable. We simply do not have room for them all. Worst of all too few people who find pets and say they are "trying to help" really want to make, take, or provide any meaningful help. They want to think and feel like they are "helping", but it can't "cost them anything," and they "can't really do anything." If you don't shoulder the burden of this needy pet and thereby remove the guilt from their eyes they too often become angry/unkind with pointed fingers and blame insinuating that somehow we retracted our obligation to be the safety net for societies furry citizens.

Also in need of a home.
"I found this cat near my house. If I didn't take her inside the foxes would have eaten her. (Client then takes out ipad to show me pictures of said fox). She's not my cat. She's a stray. I can't pay for stuff that isn't for my cat. What if the owner comes forward after I spend all this money?"

It's a sales pitch. A way to clean the palate of impending doom. She came prepared with slides and a business plan. I am the skeptical Philanthropist. Between us sits a tabby cat contentedly sleeping.

"OK, let me get this straight?" My first words to the prosecution begin as;
  • "She is, or, is not, a stray? You seemed sure that she was 5 minutes ago when you gave me that long winded description of living far away from everyone (hence the circling foxes), and the only place she might have come from was one of the many farms with barn cats? But you don't want to ask the farmers if she is their cat because they won't know?"
  • "And you don't think you should have to pay for anything because she is not your cat, although you are willing to give her a home once someone else pays for her vaccines, spay, FeLV/FIV test, fecal exam etc.." 
  • "She's too nice to be put back outside as you fear she might become "fox bait" which would be on my conscious because you are the Good Sam kind hearted person and I am the person screwing you out of the money you shouldn't have to pay to fix someone else's cat."
Debate begins about presumed ownership of said nice cat...

"It's not my cat," her.
"It's not my cat," me.
"Well, it's not my cat either."

"She was at your house. She is in your carrier. You want to keep her if I perform everything for free, (or some significant capped fraction of what it might cost), and then you want her to be your cat?"

She volleys back; "It's not my cat."

Eye roll,,, (I don't think she saw it).

I pack up. The verbal arm wrestling will end with a retreat.

Looking for a home now.

The dilemma revolves primarily around the fact that this self proclaimed Good Samaritan adopted a cat from us two years ago for $100. At the time of her adoption she was spayed, vaccinated, microchipped, tested and dewormed. She expects the same deal with this cat.

"I'm sorry it doesn't work like that. You can surrender her and we will have one of our rescues find her a home. You can bring her to the Humane Society. We can give you a payment plan to help space out any charges her care might require. Or, we can give you information on low cost spay and vaccine clinics." These are the options I provide her.

"No, I'm leaving,,, (pointed finger in my face, yelling and the "you're screwing me!" statement follow),,, "I'm going to dump her at someone else's house." She grabs the tabby from her slumber and puts her in the carrier. Opens the exam room door and starts walking out the front door. 

"That's horrible and illegal!" I blurt out in shock and incredulity.

She leaves the clinic angrily after making a scene to anyone present in the front office.

Twenty minutes later her very elderly mother calls me to berate me for "making her daughter feel bad. Not giving her any options, and punishing her for being a Good Samaritan." Grandma reminds me that she has "been a long time client who spent thousands of dollars here over the many decades she's been with us. She will not be back."

"Music to my ears." ( I think she hung up on me before she heard me).

.... and now I lose sleep at night with worry that two cats are in peril because I preferred to not feel taken advantage of than help them. 

Monica's brother, also in need of a home at JVC
I want to write her a letter that somehow shifts the guilt and blame back on to their shoulders. I want to throw a temper tantrum like a disgruntled two year old in the off chance I feel better afterwards... But, I don't. I let the days go by. I try to see it from their side? But, all that happens is I feel worse and I fear more that the cat is being torn apart by foxes,,, screaming for her life.  I try to hold a tiny bit of faith that the sweet unwanted cat can win over her angry, manipulative, sorry heart. Lord knows I couldn't.

There are some games that you play with some people you cannot win. In these games you try to walk away at a draw. In vet med the pet always pays when you do. The vet always knows this. There is a time when you have to choose who to abandon. Your ability to be profitable, your setting precedence that puts you right back here in the same predicament next week, the pet, the person, or the grief you sleep with every single night. The grief that makes you want to vomit from stress on the drive into work the next day. You have to choose who to walk away from. I promise you that in every single scenario like this every vet wants to chose to walk away from the person. It is never, ever, the patient, and too often instead we chose to walk away from ourselves as the easiest, least publicly visible painful option. 

Another JVC kitten up for adoption
Many Thanks to the people who make JVC such an amazing place. We are surrounded by so many generous people. The people who help adopt, foster, and share the posts of the pets seeking second chances, recovering from disease, illness, accidents, and misfortune. Without you we wouldn't be possible, and these miracles wouldn't happen.

...and please be kind, to your pets and the people who work so hard to keep them safe and healthy.

Related blogs;

Compassion Fatigue

The Holes In The Safety Net

Pieces Of Me

Ethical Fatigue

For anyone with a pet, anyone who loves, or has loved a pet, and anyone in search of helping others with pets I hope that you will join me at We are a community driven platform designed to help pet people by empowering and educating them. It is free to use and join.

Please also visit me on the other social media places I frequent; YouTube, Facebook, Twitter @FreePetAdvice our clinic site and the clinic Jarrettsville Vet in Harford County Maryland.


  1. Okay, that person sucks. I'm sorry you get the demanding nincompoops raining on good days. <3

    And thank you for being willing to offer advice when you totally don't need to. <3 <3

    Just...thanks for being you.

    1. LOL!
      Thanks Laura!!!...
      I think that she would tell you that she is a wonderful kind person who just recovered from a debilitating disease and that I am the person who sucks.. and we would once again end the mudslinging at a draw.
      I appreciate you, and your support, immensely!

    2. Yeah nah. Martyrdom doesn't work for "rescuers" who won't pay a ding-dang cent for the animals they rescue.


  2. Totally agree with Laura. I have yet to see any vet offices in my area (northern California) who have adoptable pets. You rock, in my book!

  3. Because at the end of the day it is a business that you are running, and you have costs and overhead and employees and customers and most importantly, their pets who depend on the wonderful care and advice you give. You are right, there are other rescues shelters and venues that try to help with all the inhumane, offhanded way, or worse, that some people treat animals. You did and gave your best. You do that every day. It must be so hard in spirit not to save everyone and every living creature who walks in your door. Please just know what a blessing you are to your entire practice and community, and keep doing what you do every day: The best you can. Prayers for strength! Dru Herbert

    1. Hello Dru,
      Many thanks for your encouragement and kindness.. With love to all, krista

  4. I'm so sorry you have to deal with such people. I know you have to set boundaries and be firm otherwise you would be out of business - and it is a business that you have to keep in the black to keep serving all of us who bring our loved pets to you. You aren't my vet, but my Vet Clinic has been there for me through think and thin. When I had to make that final decision we didn't go to some stranger, but to the loving and caring place where we were known and they knelt down on the floor with us and we all said good-bye. They understood more than all of my friends ... So please don't let people turn you away from why you wanted to become a Veterinarian - We need you and don't tell you often enough how important you are to us.

    1. Hello Linda,
      Many thanks for such a beautiful note. In the end we all need each other,, we do forget to say it though,, take care,