In anticipation of my husband’s birthday party and 100 guests walking in and out of our home, we decided to board our cats with Plantation Animal Hospital, the veterinarian we had used for over three years in Macon, GA. You can imagine our surprise when, on Friday afternoon, someone from the vet’s office called and asked us to come as soon as we could. She was apologetic when she explained one of our cats, Chanel, had escaped. The person who was moving the cats from their individual crates to the kennel had left both crates open, and at the same time had left a door to the outside propped open with a rock.
Chanel always tried to escape outside and this was exactly the reason we had decided to board them. They would be safe, right? Wrong. We made our way to the vet’s office and walked all around outside, calling Chanel and looking for signs of her. Heartbroken, we went home after an hour of futile searching.
By Saturday afternoon, we were frantic and had exhausted our search efforts. We posted photos and notices on social media and animal rescue sites, but we heard nothing. At 2:00 p.m., my very sad daughter posted a negative review on the veterinarian’s website, and got an immediate response: they had found our cat and she was secure inside. Soon after, I got an apologetic email from one of the vets, Dr. Susan Howard. It would be too little, too late.
Early Monday afternoon, my husband went to pick up the cats and bring them home. You can imagine his surprise when our grey and white female cat had been transformed into a black male cat! Surprise quickly turned to anger. I was on a plane already for a business trip, so I was of no use. All I could do was worry. How could this be? I had sent them photos of the cat. They had records of the cat, so how could they confuse a black male with a petite grey female cat? Had anyone even seen our cat? Don’t cats have medical records? Especially when this has been her vet for over three years and she had been boarded in the past?
We had two cats at the time, Chanel and Valentino. I had Chanel from the time she was a kitten and I inherited Valentino as an older cat, from my cousin, and he was not my favorite cat. I had him only because my cousin’s dog kept trying to eat him, and I took him to keep him from going to a shelter. But we never connected. One of our grandsons said we needed to respect him anyway, because he was a cat. I could have dealt with losing Valentino, but not Chanel.
On Monday night, four days later, and we still had no Chanel and no answers. Chanel is the best pet I’ve ever owned, with the possible exception of my horse, and I was so angry. Two weeks passed and still no answers. Animal rescue groups shared my blog post and Plantation Animal Hospital blocked me on Facebook and Twitter. My friends persisted in sharing “wanted” posters and in calling the vet. I was heartbroken. The vet used my photo and made a reward poster, which was shared throughout the area. $500 for my cat. They needed to do that.
Three weeks after Chanel disappeared, someone found her and claimed the reward. She weighed less than 5 pounds. The vet gave her IV fluids and checked her thoroughly. We were finally able to bring her home.
This sounds like old news, and maybe it is, however just this past week I have had two friends who have had bad experiences with this same animal hospital. I’ve had other friends whose cats have been lost by vets.
We’ve since found another vet that we like and Chanel seems okay with him. The office is nice and they get us in fast. I like them. Two years later and we still don’t board Chanel when we travel.
I wish I could tell you how to find a good vet. Get recommendations from trusted friends and read the reviews online. Meet the doctor and the staff and ask questions. Veterinarians are so specialized now and make sure the doctor you choose is comfortable with your breed. You and your pet should both be comfortable.
What an experience!