A Langford family is learning a hard lesson that the SPCA won’t return pets that have been surrendered due to injury or illness.
A stray cat named Mister came scratching at the door of the Lowe family last August, and had been part of the family until he went missing on Christmas eve 2013.
The cat’s stocking was packed with wet food, toys, treats and a new food dish. A new kitty litter box waited under the tree for him.
“He always comes home for an afternoon snack and a nap,” said Nathan Lowe, 16.
Around 8 p.m. on Dec. 24, 13-year-old Gabi Lowe started to worry and knew something wasn’t right because Mister wasn’t home.
He was discovered injured near their home on Peatt Road on Christmas morning. The family speculates it took the cat the entire night to hobble back.
On Boxing Day they took him to a vet and were told the cat’s injuries were mostly likely caused by being hit by a car.
“The vet said he was dehydrated and all his nails were shredded. He probably tried to dig them into the ground when he was hit,” said mom Kristine Lowe.
Mister needed $5,000 worth of surgery or the other option was paying $300 to put the cat down. Then Kristine heard of a third option, surrendering the cat to the SPCA.
Kristine said the family cried when she signed the papers in an effort to save Mister’s life.
If an animal is deemed homeless, the SPCA will pay for surgeries and other medical costs.
Kristine said she was given false hope by SPCA staff that she could re-adopt Mister. The SPCA denies the allegation.
“When you are a pet owner you have a legal responsibility to accept the costs of caring for your pet,” said Lorie Chortyk, BC SPCA community relations general manager. “We can’t pay for everyone’s vet bill. It’s just a part of owning a pet.”
Chortyk said the Lowe’s case is certainly sad, but also a cautionary tale for people with pets.
“My heart goes out to this family. These cases are something we struggle with all the time,” Chortyk said. “We can’t put a cat back in a home where they don’t have the resources to take care of the cat.”
SPCA suggests all pet owners have pet insurance, set money aside monthly for an emergency fund and to keep cats indoors.
“Having a pet is a significant financial commitment and sadly, emergencies and illnesses do happen during a pet’s lifetime,” Chortyk said. “So it is important to have a care plan.”
Even with nearly no possibility Mister will return to the Lowe family, they are looking into pet insurance for their other cat, Miso, and started a savings account to build a contingency fund to show the SPCA they can care for Mister.