KENTWOOD — What was supposed to be a routine procedure performed on a cat turned into a tragic mistake that resulted in the feline euthanized.
Natty Minou, affectionately known as such by the staff at The Cajun Two Step, LLC in Kentwood, was brought to the local animal control to undergo spaying but never returned.
The cat’s name stems from her playing with “Natty Lite” cans, and “Minou” is Cajun for kitten.
Sandy Welch, one of Natty Minou’s owners, stated that on April 17, she contacted several veterinarians in the area regarding the cat’s spaying, and a couple of them informed her that they couldn’t accommodate her until the end of April or the beginning of May.
“On that same day, I met a friend of a friend who happened to be working with Tangipahoa Parish Animal Control (TPAC) and asked if they could perform the procedure for me,” Welch said. “He told me he could pick her up the following morning.”
The next day, a TPAC worker arrived to collect the cat, and that was the last time Welch saw her pet. Two days later, she received a call from another TPAC employee informing her that the cat, Natty Minou had been euthanized.
“During that time, he (worker who picked up the cat) repeatedly asked if she was ready to be returned to me, but was always brushed off or given vague responses,” Welch said.
The following day, Welch was informed of a mix-up.
“I received a phone call from animal control, and the woman said, ‘A technician made a huge mistake and euthanized your cat’,” Welch recounted.
After hanging up, Welch immediately called animal control back for answers. She was told that another cat, similar in appearance to Natty Minou, was scheduled for euthanasia, and Natty Minou was mistakenly placed in the same area as the cats slated for euthanasia. The technician allegedly returned to retrieve the cat but selected the wrong one.
“I asked, ‘When did you realize you made this huge mistake?’ She said, ‘On Friday’,” Welch explained. “(The employee who picked up her cat) no longer works at TPAC. He told me that what happened to my kitten was the straw that broke the camel’s back for him working there. He has since retained employment in a different job.”
TPAC Director Chip Fitz said Natty Minou was picked up under the Return to Field program (RTF). He said the program has saved over 3,500 cats and helped keep cat intakes down.
“We bring them in, fix them, get them all up on their shots, take care of their health needs and return them to the areas where we got them,” he said. “When they’re brought in, they’re put in a different area. This was a black and white cat,” he added. “We had a very sick black and white cat two kennels over. My euthanasia tech went to pull the sick one that they determined wasn’t going to survive. He pulled the wrong cat is what happened. They were two kennels apart. He pulled the wrong black and white cat. It’s just a human error.”
Fitz said the outcome could have been different if the cat was presented as a household cat initially.
“If the cat was a household cat, which I am told that this lady maintained to my staff after the fact, he should have been brought in on a low-cost spay/neuter program, and he would’ve never been in this particular kennel area,” he said. “He would’ve gone into the clinic and gone somewhere else. They usually go in the clinic and back home the same day. He would’ve never been left in our care. Were there some mistakes all the way through? Yes. Bottom line, my tech made a mistake in identification, and as sad as that is, I can’t undo it.”
He apologized to Natty Minou’s owner for the mistake.
“We’re so sorry. We wish this would’ve been handled differently from the beginning,” he stated. “We can’t undo it and that’s what we’re so sorry about. Whether it was her cat or not, any mistake that costs an animal’s life is horrible. We’re in the job of saving animals’ lives, and we’re so sorry when a mistake is made.”