A heartbroken family has criticised the RSPCA after their cat was put to sleep within 24 hours of being taken in and without their knowledge.
Eighteen-year-old Jack was a ‘huge part’ of Michael and Michelle Carpenter’s family.
Michelle had him since she was just 12-years-old and the much-loved pet moved with her into her and Michael’s first home together and saw the family grow with the arrival of two children and another cat, Holly.
“He was so patient and loving and one of a kind,” said Michael.
But Jack – who wasn’t microchipped or wearing a collar – passed away after being put down by a vet on July 30.
Animal charity the RSPCA, however, say Jack had sustained serious injuries and the decision to put him to sleep was taken to prevent further pain and suffering.
Michael explained that ‘free spirit’ Jack restricted his roaming to a small area close to their home on St David’s Terrace in Saltney , and was a well-known character on their street.
Some local residents are understood to have taken Jack in on July 29 after mistakenly believing he matched the description of a missing cat in the area and contacted the RSPCA when they realised he wasn’t the AWOL cat.
Jack’s disappearance didn’t sound any alarm bells for the Carpenters because he had been sleeping outside due to the hot weather, so they only discovered what had happened to him after a neighbour called round to tell them about an RSPCA ‘animal found’ poster describing a ‘friendly’ cat which had been left on a lamppost on neighbouring Maydor Avenue.
The couple called the RSPCA and were devastated to learn that Jack was already gone.
By their own admission, Michael and Michelle said Jack was old and had a wheeze – which they say their usual vet had attributed to his age and had not been overly concerned about – but believe his poor condition when he reached the veterinary practice may have been due to the discomfort and agitation caused by the car journey.
The couple feel they were deprived of the opportunity to be with Jack when he died.
Decision 'taken out of our hands'
Michael said: “We knew he was getting old and skinny – despite eating more than six times a day – and that the time would come when he would no longer be with us but we were hoping that he would be at home with the family that loved and cared for him for 18 years when he passed away, and that we would have to make the decision ourselves but it has been taken out of our hands.
“We don’t blame the vets for having made that decision as like I said he would not have coped in a long car journey.
Now they want to see a change in the charity’s policies and procedures, as ‘not every cat is tagged or collared’.
“Jack literally never went further than my parents’ house so there was never any need for him to be chipped as we always knew where he would be and he has had collars in the past but always worked out how to get them off,” Michael added.
“We believe the RSPCA should have made more effort to ensure that everything was done to find the owners and not just taken a cat off their own street and also if they had just let him back out Jack would have returned home.
“We want to make sure their systems change so that other people do not have to go through what we have been through.”
But the RSPCA insist that ‘every effort’ was made to trace the owners.
Rachel Butler, an RSPCA press officer, told The Chronicle: “We received a call on Friday, July 29, from a member of the public about an ill cat found on St David’s Terrace, in Saltney Ferry, Chester .
“One of our officers collected the cat and took the cat straight to the vets.
“Sadly, the cat had suffered a serious head injury, broken ribs and lung failure. The cat was monitored at the vets but was so poorly that, after being assessed by two vets, they made the decision to put him to sleep to prevent further suffering.
“The cat was not microchipped and so no owner could be immediately traced, however every effort was made to find the owner in the circumstances, including posters being put up in the area where the cat was found.”