Cat mistakenly euthanized after routine animal hospital stay

February 26th, 2010 by – A case of mistaken identity ended up killing a beloved family pet.

Maria Velez and her son, Austin, went to pick up their cat, Buddy, from the vet only to discover he had been euthanized, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

Velez said when she arrived at Hernando County Animal Hospital, workers handed over a cat that bore Buddy’s orange tiger-stripe markings but was missing its tail and far too skinny to be her pet.

Workers then realized that Buddy was dead. An animal service worker who meant to call Buddy’s owner called the wrong person. That person said they did not want the cat, and gave the OK to euthanize Buddy.

“I was horrified,” Velez told to St. Petersburg Times. “My poor baby.”

Animal services is investigating the incident and looking into new ways to prevent an accidental death like this from ever happening again.

“We try so hard to get animals home and not let them get euthanized,” said Liana Teague, code and animal services manager for Hernando County. “It tears the staff up. I know it’s more tragic for the owner, but it’s terrible for us. It’s not what we do.”

The Times reports that Buddy was taken to the hospital after he bit a family friend who was taking care of him while Velez was on vacation. Her bite began to swell, and Buddy needed to be tested for rabies.

Velez was instructed to quarantine Buddy, and she complied. Once the feline was cleared, a worker called to inform Velez Buddy could be picked up – and unfortunately, it was the wrong pet owner on the other line.

Debra Yarzab, the family friend who was bit by Buddy, was livid.

“They said, ‘It happens. We don’t live in a perfect world, and Buddy paid the ultimate price,’ ” Yarzab told the Times.

Velez wanted Buddy’s story to be known so the animal hospital would make appropriate protocol changes.

“I know there is no bringing back my baby,” she said. “I just want changes so this never happens again.”

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