Feilding SPCA wins case against cat owner

SANDRA CROSBIE
Last updated 08:35 23/07/2014

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Feilding's SPCA has successfully prosecuted a woman for failing to take her cat to the vet for more than two weeks despite the bones of its tail being exposed by an injury.

Karen Houghton, 53, unemployed, was convicted in the Palmerston North District Court for failing to ensure the physical, health, and behavioural needs of an animal were met.

On Friday she was sentenced to 60 hours' community work, fined $200, and disqualified from owning and exercising authority over animals for five years.

On December 22, an SPCA inspector, acting on information received, attended the Totally Vets clinic in Feilding to inspect a black, domestic longhaired male cat called Boy.

The cat belonged to Houghton but had been taken to the clinic by a family member. Boy had an infection in his right foreleg, and the skin at the tip of his tail had been torn off, exposing about 1.5 centimetres of bone.

He was also suffering from blood poisoning as a result of the tail wound, which the vet estimated had been left untreated for two or three weeks. The cat's coat was infested with fleas and he had internal and external tapeworm parasites.

The veterinarian treated Boy with intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and pain relief, followed by surgery to remove the 75 per cent of the tail that was either necrotic or infected.

The vet said Houghton should have noticed the injury, especially since the smell of decaying flesh would have been obvious. If earlier treatment had been sought, more of the tail could have been saved.

The cat would have suffered pain and distress, the vet said.

Manawatu, Feilding and Districts SPCA general manager Danny Auger said: "When we interviewed the defendant, she made various excuses for not seeking treatment for her cat, including lack of time, transport issues, and lack of money. But there is never any excuse for leaving an animal to suffer.

"The reality is there are always options, from asking family and friends for help, to surrendering your animal to the SPCA. The defendant in this case simply decided to do nothing while her cat suffered - and that's not good enough."

Auger said the court decision was a great result for the Feilding SPCA and was its first prosecution in five years.

Boy has made a good recovery and has been rehomed.

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- Manawatu Standard

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