No one expects perfection from ACCT Philly, the Animal Care and Control Team on Hunting Park Avenue in Feltonville, but Kim McNally Schmidt says the city-funded animal shelter callously dismembered her 16-year-old house cat, Stinky.
The story began Oct. 21, when Stinky slipped out of her Port Richmond home. The black-and-white cat, always kept indoors, had no name tag and no microchip. Schmidt has two other cats, Baby and Casey, both 17.
It wasn't until later that night that Schmidt realized Stinky wasn't at home. She promptly listed her cat as missing on several online boards, including one operated by ACCT. She also hit the streets. "I went up and down these streets for two days" calling Stinky's name, Schmidt told me.
Schmidt was filled with guilt and remorse. "I couldn't sleep," she said. "I searched and searched and searched for that cat, I had fliers made up — and then I found out she was at ACCT."
Her heartache relieved, her spirits high, Schmidt arrived at the shelter Monday afternoon.
When she tried to claim her cat, she learned that Stinky had been renamed "Oreo Muffin" for adoption, her age was listed as 2 to 4 years old — and her right rear leg had been amputated.
"Of course I lost it, seeing her that way," Schmidt told me.
Schmidt, who has lived with the cat since Stinky was a kitten, said her bad leg was a deformity, one that had been examined by vets over the years. None saw it as a problem, but a vet at ACCT did.
"A licensed veterinarian examined the cat and observed the right rear leg as being malformed, withered, non-weight-bearing, and possibly painful," ACCT spokeswoman Ame Dorminy told me.
The vet "determined amputation was necessary to rule out future medical complications," Dorminy said.
The vet made her assessment of Stinky's bad limb without the benefit of an X-ray because ACCT's medical unit does not have a working X-ray machine, Dorminy said.
I had to let that sink in for a moment. The vets who work at ACCT can't take an X-ray, which is a simple, low-level diagnostic tool. I asked Dorminy if the medical department could be deemed complete without an X-ray. She declined to answer, saying that was subjective. ACCT does not pretend to offer complete medical services, she said.
Schmidt insisted the surgery was unnecessary, performed in haste without proper precautions. She said Stinky is in pain and will have to adjust to life as an old cat with only three legs.
"I get nothing but lies from them," Schmidt said of ACCT. "They were totally negligent, and I am furious. There was nothing wrong with my cat."
That may be true, but Schmidt could have saved her cat's leg had she taken the precaution of having Stinky microchipped. That's a note to all pet owners.
I wanted to know who the vet is and how the decision was made to amputate, but Dorminy did not respond to calls seeking that information.
I share Schmidt's frustration with ACCT. The lack of transparency and accountability is almost as bad as the medical mistake.