The Edmonton Humane Society has launched an internal review after three cats were forgotten in a transport vehicle for three weeks.
In late May, Global News received a tip about the incident and followed up.
According to a statement from the Edmonton Humane Society (EHS), a crew picked up some animals from another shelter on March 27 and “upon return to Edmonton, during the unloading of the animals, three cats were unknowingly left in the vehicle.”
The cats were not discovered until April 18, when staff were preparing for another animal transfer.
“The cats were immediately assessed by our medical team and veterinarians who reported the cats as being alert and responsive, although dehydrated and hungry,” the statement said.
The cats were bathed and given fluids and food. They were transported in crates and they would have had a little bit of food and water that they were given at the start of the transport. They suffered no injuries or illnesses other than mild urine burns on some of their feet.
“The EHS medical team continued to closely monitor the cats to ensure a full recovery. Once they were medically cleared, the cats were transferred to a partner agency, which is a common practice in the animal welfare sector.”
The society said it is “disheartened” about the incident and grateful the cats recovered.
“A series of unintentional events occurred that resulted in an internal review and a subsequent update to our transfer policies and procedures … Additional checks and balances have been put into place to make sure a situation such as this does not occur again and to minimize the risk of human error. Heightened requirements have already been implemented.”
EHS director Jaime Caza said there’s an eight-page document that reviews every step in the transport process, including checks and double checks for staff involved in loading and receiving.
“There were so many pieces that contributed to what went wrong that day,” Caza said. “All we can do at this point is make sure that the animals are recovered, our humans are doing OK and that this doesn’t happen again.”
Scroll down to read the full EHS statement.
“We’re a team of professionals that dedicate your life to animal welfare,” Caza said.
“This is by far the worst nightmare for any of our team members — from the people that were driving to the people that receive them — all of the staff members involved were deeply affected. They have been receiving ongoing care to ensure that their mental health is addressed.
“We did a full internal review and put several safety steps in place to ensure something like this does not happen again.”
Global News obtained the cats’ medical charts from their short time at the Edmonton Humane Society.
For Lucky, a four-year-old domestic short-hair cat, the entry on April 18 reads “BAR [bright, alert and responsive] but dehydrated, and extremely hungry. Mild urine scalding on feet. No other major injuries noted but we will be monitoring and can recheck tomorrow … Will run full blood panels tomorrow morning to assess organs.”
LISTEN BELOW: An Edmonton law professor is questioning whether it’s appropriate for the Edmonton Human Society to investigate itself after three cats were left in on of their vans for 22 days
The next day, on April 19, the report speaks about all three cats: “They appeared more thin than normal BCS [body condition score] 4/9 and covered in urine.”
Over the next week, Lucky was checked by the veterinary team repeatedly and appeared to show signs of improvement.
In the April 18 veterinary report for Magic, it describes the one-year-old domestic short hair with “urine and feces caked on fur around hind end.” Otherwise, Magic’s report has many of the same entries as Lucky’s.
The third cat, two-year-old Chance, was vomiting and had diarrhea. A veterinarian noted the cat’s blood tests showed it had a “mildly high ALT [alanine transaminase] consistent with hx [history] of starvation.”
On April 26, the report reads, “all three cats are doing well. BAR [bright, alert and responsive] and eating well. No more vomiting recorded. Will increase food amount for a couple days.”
“The cats are doing very well,” Caza said. “We’re really pleased to report that they have since been adopted and are now in their forever homes. We’re really grateful for that.”
Caza said charges have not been laid. The Alberta SPCA is aware of the incident but EHS says there is no investigation.
At the end of April, the cats were sent to the Calgary Humane Society, where they were then adopted out.
“We were not made aware of the circumstances behind the transfer,” the Calgary Humane Society said. “Upon learning of potential concerns over this previous transport, we have since contacted the adopters to ensure they’re doing well and to contact us with any health concerns. We’re maintaining open communications to ensure that their health is the primary focus.”
Caza said the medical records were provided to the Calgary crew, as is the case in every transport situation.
“The cats were healthy. We didn’t transport them until they were healthy. In any case, when you’re transporting animals you don’t deliver all of the facts like that. We saw that as an internal issue.”
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.