Letter to dvm360: Good deeds share equal blame

October 26, 2017

After a new pet owner was severely injured in a car accident, she blamed the veterinary practice. One reader says the blame goes both ways.

Photo: Shutterstock.comI read the article “Doing good deeds in your clinic? Here's a cautionary tale” regarding the lawsuit after a cat escaped in the car. Like the veterinarian in the article, I am a veterinarian in New Jersey who helps rescues and shelters. I have also assisted some AVMA PLIT attorneys with their cases, since I'm also an animal control officer and animal cruelty investigator.

I believe the client is also liable, since she failed to bring any proper form of restraint for the cat. As such, if the client chose to take the cat out of the clinic in the box that the veterinary staff provided, rather than keeping the cat another day at the veterinarian's office, that falls on her.

As a veterinarian, I would have taped down the box to make sure the cat could not get out, but even then I've seen cats get out of cardboard carriers when placed in them-and they're supposed to be designed to hold cats.

That's one reason I deal directly with rescues and don't do any adoptions from my office. Too much liability. Even when I take every precaution possible, I cannot guarantee that my staff will not make a mistake and not properly secure a carrier. I try to make sure I'm in the office whenever any patients return home from our clinic and double-check collars on dogs and carriers for cats. Even then I've had clients who loosen up the collars in the waiting room, stating that we put them on too tight-even when the dog has slipped out of the collar in the waiting room.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard you screen clients, there is no guarantee that a client won't be a problem.

Karen Negrin, DVM, ACO/ACI

Union, New Jersey