Cat goes in for a Spay and comes home declawed. Legal ramifications if any?

Horrible, Horrible situation, my wife just came home from the Vet with one of ours…and heard the story there. They are closing the office for a few days from what I understand… I mean holy sh*t!! I would go ballistic if that were my cat! We are definitely switching vets…

The question is, what legally can the owners do? I mean they probably won’t have to pay for the surgery, but what else? Anything?

Declawing cats is legal at 41 degrees North? :eek:

Was it spayed also, or just declawed?

I’d be mad as hell too.

It is when it’s 41 N, 70someodd W :wink:

I adopted a cat who was front declawed before I got her. I’m a little surprised that it’s illegal in Germany, as kellner implies…

As for the question, I would assume they could hit the vet with some kind of lawsuit for veterinary malpractice (in fact, the notion of res ipsa loquitur mentioned in the article would seem to apply here); the vet could also lose his/her license over this. I doubt that it would be a criminal matter, though.

Any civil law experts want to weigh in here?

Yes, they did the spay but they also did the declawing at the same time…Does that sound right to anyone? To do both?

unfortunately, in most states, the pet is considered chattal, meaning just property so if someone killed your pet, you could only recoup the cost to replace pet - no pain and suffering, etc. In this case, I would again say no pain and suffering, but I would think there would need to be experts involved to determine if there is a difference in the value of the cat pre-clawed compared to post-clawed. How awful for the pet’s family.

I think there would be some serious licensing ramifications, potentially.

I hope that it was a clerical mistake and not simply an assumption made on the part of the vet. I know we were asked if we wanted a declaw when we last had a cat altered, so it seems a common combination of surgeries (which makes sense. No need to put them under twice).

I’d be very upset were it my cat. I am very strongly against declawing.

My family’s had a number of cats spayed and declawed, and it’s almost always been done at the same time. I’d say it’s probably pretty common. As jsgoddess says, it may be to lessen the risk of anathesia (sp?) by having to put the cat under only once instead of twice.

Yes, I know declawing is inhumane and barbarous, so please no lectures. I’m only reporting what I know.

As has already been said, animals are considered property in many jurisdictions, so any physical harm to a pet against the will of the owner can be regarded as damage to property, with the respective legal consequences.

This is changing in the US on a case by case basis. Awards of 5 to 8 K are not rare. I would suggest the owner sue. “Serious licensing ramifications” is hyperbole. The State Board would probably fine the veterinarian a modest amount and force him/her to take extra continuing education. based on US veterinary practice

Things like this happen from time to time. Mistakes happen. I know a veterinarian who euthanised the wrong pet. :frowning: She settled before trial for the price of a new dog and $500 cash.

Well the story is even more disconcerning because I have a good friend who works with this practice quite often. I’ve phoned him to chat about it, as he has been on vacation for a while.

My first thought would be to go in with a large knife and offer him a manicure …

Bad idea.

Realistically, call a lawyer with the aim of suing his ass off (MikeS’s link leads to a discussion of “Mental Anguish or Suffering of the Owner”), and then call the vet licensing board.

As opposed to neutering which is not? :confused:

Neutering isn’t barbarous when it saves countless more cats from being born and turned out into the streets. It also reduces the risk of illnesses in cats, such as tumors, cancers, and other serious illnesses. It reduces the urge in males to roam, as well as lowering their aggressive tendencies, leading to a lower chance of getting involved (and injured) in fights with other cats.

Why switch Vets? I am sure it was an accident, and that’s one Vet’s office that is going to be super extra careful to not make the same or similar mistakes, soon.

The hurt pet/damages issue was discussed here:


I read some of the links above, and a few cases they cite. I didn’t see any huge departures from the market value approach. A few courts have used a different calculation, especially when the pet has no market value, but damage awards are still minimal. A Hawai’i case, cited as a big departure from the general rule, awarded $1000 for a dog negligently killed by the defendant.

I didn’t read every case cited. If I were the OP, though, I wouldn’t get too optimistic about a lawsuit. As sympathetic as I might be, I wouldn’t take the case. If an existing client insisted and I couldn’t talk him out of it, I’d be telling him in writing that the legal fees will exceed any likely recovery.

I work w/ a cat shelter and unfortunatly this is not uncommon. I have been asked many times when bring a cat to be s/n if I want it declawed too, but more like after I said I want the S/N" the vet tech said while entering the order “and you also want him/her declawed right?”

What I did and others have suggested find a new vet.

Sorry to hear about it :frowning: :mad:

The veterinary office of which we belong made this mistake. My friend is one of the vets who is on call. He has his own practice, and is not the vet who made this mistake. For those of us who think declawing cats is barbaric and inhumane, this situation is a travesty. We will most likely not switch, but completely discontinue going to said office. Even though this was not our animal, it was an obscene mistake. I just got off the phone with out vet friend and he is appauled, yet not completely - he has seen this many times, to my surprise - he said I am getting all into a huff about something that is certainly not life threatening for the cat, but as of yet, very concerning for the family.
I asked his professional opinion and he said to continue bringing our animals to that clinic, it is a good reputable clinic and this was an incident that happens so infrequently, I should not worry about it.

In turn, I asked if he wouldn’t mind seeing our animals at our home, and he said absolutely not a problem…It’s amazing what a glass of chardonnay and a few peices of Vermont Sharp Cheddar will do to a man :slight_smile:

WAG… Maybe they didn’t want the cat to claw his/her stitches out? :confused: