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Do you call the SPCA or what?

By Dr. Andrew Jones

From: Dr Andrew Jones
Author: Veterinary Secrets Revealed
Website: http://www.veterinarysecretsrevealed.com

Re: Do you call the SPCA or what?


Cheery Tuesday fellow readers.

WHAT constitutes Neglect?

In dealing with the welfare of dogs and cats, some things aren’t always clear.

In other cases its easy.

Animal Cruelty is pretty cut and dried- If someone fails to provide basic life necessities for their animals – such as adequate shelter or food and water – then they can get charged with neglect.

In fact I have been involved with a number of these cases over the last 10 years.

BUT what if it revolves around giving medication?

I once had a dog with an easily treatable condition – Diabetes.

Treatable with Insulin injections.

The owner was elderly – and unable to give the insulin.

The SPCA became involved, and threatened to take the dog if it was not treated.

The dog could have lapsed into a Diabetic coma if not treated.

BUT the dog was 14 – and the owner was over 90.

In the end we were able to get neighbors to come and give Insulin injections.

BUT what if that was NOT an option?

If the dog had been seized, he would have been euthanized, as no one would adopt a 14 year old

Would that have been a better choice?

Not really.

And what about the emotional damage that would have been done to the elderly lady?

As you can see not really clear cut.


P.S. Animal Cruelty isn’t always clear cut. BUT in most cases it’s ONLY the extreme serious cases that EVER get any attention.

What would you do on this case?

I would love to hear about it here… REPLY to this posting.

It’s Your Pet. Heal Them At Home!

Best Wishes,

Dr Andrew Jones, DVM


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Topics: Pet health | 16 Comments »

16 Responses to “Do you call the SPCA or what?”

    September 23rd, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Pet health,
    This type of neglect I see quite often where the pet owners are unable to treat their pets for medical problems and sometimes even proper food.
    In a lot of cases the animals are older and have been with that person for a long time.
    The fear of them losing their pet from City or county shelters they are afraid to ask for help. My organization has programs to assist these people with temporary help but because of what SPCA and other like organizations do they do not trust any organization and so the animals suffer.
    As a Animal Rescue Organization I look at every case and try to assist pet owners with assistance or education on the proper ways to care for their pets.

  2. Avatar Nancy Cleveland Says:
    September 23rd, 2008 at 9:25 am

    This was a particularly cogent email this morning, Dr. Jones. What DO we do? My partner manages one of a local chain of pet food and supply stores…it’s not just a job (not only hers, either, since I help her with research etc) perhaps a vocation since she has built much of her business through caring for her customers and their human caretakers with regards to healthy nutrition and so forth. To the point that she has one vet in her area who has actually gone to her store and read her the riot act because she has educated her clients to healthy foods, paying attention to the ingredients in what they feed their pets and in the process successfully abated a number of allergies caused by other foods. Which has also meant they no longer required the chemical toxins in the barrage of medicines being prescribed. However, there is another vet who actually recommends/sends her clients to this store for such advice.

    But back to your blog of today. The store does not sell pets, there are no animals marketed there but she does have the local SPCA bring their older cats in, in an attempt to get them homes. Recently, it was a very young female who lived outdoors, had just had kittens. The SPCA had been called because some boys were tormenting these creatures…by the time they arrived, the boys had thrown some of the kitten family against a wall, Mama and two kittens were the survivors. Now, my partner didn’t particularly want kittens for adoption in her store…kittens get adopted. They are cute, playful, like any baby and as such everyone is attracted to them. She wanted the older cats…the ones not strongly considered adoptable…but she did take the Mama cat and two kittens. Since she goes into work at least two hours before the store opens for daily business, she would let all three out to run around the store, play etc. Otherwise, she housed them in a tri-level ferret crate where they could still play, have a sleeping/feeding area and a litter-box area. The kittens were adopted quickly, Mama is still there and according to her and her staff, this is now ‘their’ cat. She and a new companion have the run of the store when it closes for the night (obviously they play hard since they sleep most of each day!) She is loved my employees and customers alike. For some reason black kitties are not high on adoption lists. At any rate, her SPCA contact called her a few days ago. They had recieved a fifteen year old calico whose owner had suddenly died. The owner’s family did not want the cat (why?? If not only to allow him to live out his life?) Because of his age the plan seemed to be to euthanize (we do not have a no-kill centre here, yet). NO..my partner told them to bring him to her store where she would find a caring home for him. (I should add that given we have fifteen companion animals I was pretty sure that, push coming to shove, it would be here with us like the other waifs and strays who found a home here!). The other thing was this little boy had no teeth…and the SPCA doesn’t feed soft/wet food plus this contact there was not at all sure the caretakers would soften kibble sufficiently for this kitty to be able to eat. Unfortunately, the SPCA’s…in general…are not always the answers or solutions we want in caring for disenfranchised animals or pets suddenly without their home.

    I’ve long thought that a hospice situation for pets, such as you described, would be a good idea. We have groups who tend the feral cats in the area…go out to feed them, trap them and treat them…spay and neuter…release them unless they are kittens who can be adoptable after being fostered for a while. How about an organization of volunteers who would medicate, take Fido or Puss-kit to the vet when an owner cannot, exercise Fido when an owner is unable. Not random kindness of neighbours or friends because despite the best will in the world, we cannot always depend upon that. People who are willing to organize, schedule time, people who are devout in their concern for our animal friends and companions? A few years ago we closed a business we owned, at the time, to make a several hundered mile car trip to fetch home a little boy of seven yeras of age who had been given away because their owners were moving. I wondered if they were surely moving to the UK and didn’t have the heart to put him in quarantine…for why else would one move somewhere they could not take a (supoosedly) loved member of the family? The new owners then found out the little lad had diabetes and didn’t want to deal with it so put him on a rescue site where we found him. He was going blind, had a heart problem and needed twice daily insulin shots. Oh…and his hearing was going. We brought him home, tended him, took him for walks in the woods and we could literally see his joy. Sadly, he died seven months later…at home with people and other four legged companions around him.

    Keep up the good work, Dr. Jones…continue asking the tough questions, making us all think about how the world, in general…even some of the SPCA’s treat or decide the fate of our fur and feather companions. And…thank you.

  3. Avatar Lynn Jenkin Says:
    September 23rd, 2008 at 9:36 am

    In a situation like that I would certainly endeavour to help the owner by arranging for someone to give the injections as was done in this instant. You have to look at the big picture and every situation is different. Certainly I would help both the owner and the animal because quite often its a case of educating an owner. On the other hand theres situations where the animal is at risk and then I certainly would report it.

  4. Avatar pat Says:
    September 23rd, 2008 at 9:46 am

    hi i have just read your todays newsletter on the old lady with a dog which is diabetic i could not give my dog a needle of insulin but i would ask a menber of my family to do it i would not have her put down pat

  5. Avatar Maria Parker Says:
    September 23rd, 2008 at 11:11 am

    What a wonderful solution to the problem of the elderly lady not being able to give the insulin shots, I think that the majority of neighbors would be more than happy to help out in that kind of situation. I frequently watch Animal Planet and some of the cruelty cases shown are absolutely horrific. Two day’s ago, I saw a dog taken from his owner for severe starvation. I thought that the dog was dead when it was laid on the examination table; until he blinked his eyes! I have seen some awful things on that show, but I felt that was one of the worst cases I had ever seen, the dog was just a skeleton, he was too weak to stand or even lift his head. When interviewed, the owner said that the dog was old, and he hadn’t been eating. Sometimes,she would soften his food to see if would eat it. She had not taken him to a Veterinarian as she knew that he was old and dying! When he was examined, the poor dog had a bone lodged at the back of his throat, which was easily removed! The dog did not survive. The outcome of that case was unknown, but it was said that the owner could face several years of jail time.
    That is cruelty at it it’s worst. It amazes me the ignorance of some people when it comes to animals; and these people have more than likely raised several children…..or should I say they have probably raised themselves! Enough said; one thing leads into another, and there is no end to these kind of situations – unless we educate the children in school!

  6. Avatar Jan Says:
    September 23rd, 2008 at 11:14 am

    In a case like this, I would suggest they hire a professional petsitter to come in and give the insulin injections. Not all pet sitters are comfortable giving insulin injections, but many are.

    I once had a client in her 90’s who had me come and give her cat sub-q fluids. The client’s eyesight was such that she couldn’t see well enough to do it herself.

  7. Avatar Ann Mitchell Says:
    September 23rd, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Sadly the SPCA has so many cases to deal with, it isn’t always possible for them to consider each one individually. I don’t believe this case is one for the SPCA. I would not have called them, rather, help out by giving the dog the necessary injection. I would like to think if I were in the same situation one of my neighbours would offer to assist me so I could keep my pet alive and home with me. I am sure they each bring a great deal of comfort to the other. Ann

  8. Avatar Deanna Says:
    September 23rd, 2008 at 11:30 am

    I would also suggest that a neighbor or relative administer the insulin on a daily basis and/or if the elderly owner had a daily care provider, that person could do it. In the absence of readily available assistance, I would ask your vet techs if they would volunteer to swing by during their lunch hour to give the dog its insulin on a rotating schedule. I would do everything possible for the 90yr old lady to keep her companion alive and with her for as long as they both could enjoy each other – both their days are numbered, so to speak. and they rely on each other for love and companionship in their twilight years.

  9. Avatar Patricia Carey Says:
    September 23rd, 2008 at 11:31 am

    I am kind of in the samw situation. I am feeding 5 dogs that are not mine. I already have 3. 2 of the dogs are part pit bull and I feel they will have a really hard time being placed if picked up by the SPCA. Also the mother is afraid of people and I also feel she would be unplaceable. I have made accomodations for them before the snow comes and pray a lot. The other 2 dogs are pure bred blue tic hound and lage puppy is german sheperd. I feel the 2 would have a great chance of being placed. I also know of a little pregnant dog who lives in the desert and will not be captured. She will most likely die due to being prignant all of the time. I feel she would be better off being picked up due to the fact that her death in the desert is inevitable and will most likely be painful. Wish I could help her, she will not let anyone close to her. Have a good day. patriciajcarey.1@netzero.com

  10. Avatar Lois Steven Says:
    September 23rd, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    I would enlist the help of friends to give this dog his injections. I would also assure he was receiving proper nutrition. This poor animal deserves to receive medical treatment, and a good diet. The elderly lady is very likely experiencing some difficulty caring for herself; possibly the additional care required for a diabetic dog is daunting. Yet, I am certain the dog provides her companionship and love. Hopefully, she in turn, is loving her dog.

  11. Avatar Ellen Says:
    September 23rd, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    We, in British Columbia are very lucky to have a lot of volunteer programs for seniors. I would think that one could contact the agency and have someone who could administer the shots.

  12. Avatar Elaine Says:
    September 23rd, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    As a registered cat breeder, when I get an inquiry from an elderly person, one of my first questions is, what is his/her age and then ascertain who will be looking after this kitten/cat should the owner have to go into hospital or is unable to take care of the pet. Then I speak to the person nominated to ensure that this will happen.
    In the case of this person, I would be one of the first people to go and help her with the shots for the dog. It is not a hard thing to do and I am sure that it would be very appreciated by the owner to make sure she has her companion for as long as they can be together.

  13. Avatar Becky Says:
    September 23rd, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    My son and I ended up with a poodle that way. She was outside in a cage with her fur looking like a bad case of dreadlocks.Could hardly walk and was being fed OL ROY(big bites for such a little girl) My son asked the owner if we could have her!!!! Already having 4 medium sized dogs I was a little leary to have such a small dog in our house. After a good grooming session and a trip to the vet we found out she had epilepsy and no teeth on top. We have had her 8 monthes now and boy what a change. She actually hops onto the sofa, runs with the big dogs,actually plays with rope toys and growls at the big dogs if they try to take the toys. I am so my son insisted on taking this little dog to give her a warm house,bed to sleep on,soft food she can actully eat, and people to love her. If the owner was elderly and truly cared for the dog no I wouldn’t have taken her. I too would have tried a different option but this owner wanted us to take her other 2 dogs also. Because they couldn’t be bred anymore? Because there wasn’t room inside anymore? Don’t really know what the owner was thinking when she put this tiny poodle outside and unmedicated

  14. Avatar Kate Says:
    September 24th, 2008 at 12:37 am

    I agree that a neighbour or volunteer could be asked to give the daily insulin injections. My daughter at 14 was very comfortable giving our neighbours cat her injections. Perhaps a notice board at the vets office could ask for volunteers to do such tasks and if the elderly owner was not worried that she might loose her beloved pet, she might have been more readidly asked for help.

  15. Avatar Keith Webb Says:
    September 24th, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Sometimes you’re lucky to find those people next door who are willing to help, but it doesn’t happen all the time. Great blog.

  16. Avatar Rose Says:
    July 10th, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    I love this book and blog! It’s so refreshing to see that resources are out there to help folks better care for their pets. It is true that far too many people cannot afford quality care for there pets. As a professional dog walker and dog day care provider in my Hampton, NH home, I see many dogs whose families cannot afford walking and overnight care never mind food and medical. I do my best to do a sliding fee even if it’s a dollar for the day. Anything to keep dogs out of hot cars or in crates for 12 hrs a day. Thank you. Rose at For the Dogs, NH


Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM