ACS admits errors in intake, notification of lost cat

SAN ANTONIO – Animal Care Services admitted Thursday to several errors during the intake, treatment and notification process of a 3-year-old male Maine Coon cat. Errors that were pointed out by the cat's owner, Danika Tolbert.

Tolbert said her cat, Cortez, disappeared from their home on May 4. Two days later she found a picture of what she believed was Cortez on ACS's website. But the details of the cat didn't match, stating it was a de-clawed female mix.

Tolbert and her husband drove to ACS to try to see the cat but Cortez was in the clinic where the public is not allowed. A tech in the clinic told them the cat was female, declawed and did not have a microchip.

On May 12, Tolbert said she saw an updated listing on ACS's website.

"The same picture shows up and now the cat is a 3-year-old male Maine Coon," said Tolbert.

Not only did it look like Cortez, they also found the matching microchip. Tolbert said when she brought Cortez home, she noticed it was limping. X-rays revealed a lot of damage.

"His hip bone was in pieces," said Tolbert. "Not only that but the ligaments in his knee were completely torn."

"When he was brought in, he was apparently injured," said Lisa Norwood with ACS. "There was treatment. He did receive treatment while he was in our care."

But there were no records of treatment.

"Unfortunately, those clinic records weren't updated to reflect that he was in the clinic and he was receiving treatment," added Norwood. "That's where the disconnect is. That's why we have to determine what happened."

The treatment issue is just one concern for Tolbert who still isn't convinced any treatment was given during Cortez's weeklong stay.

"Because they had him mislisted as a female and because they were convinced that he had no chip, I am very concerned that if they had come across his injuries they simply would have put him down," said Tolbert. "I hope that Cortez is the fulcrum point that really gets things rolling to plug these holes."

"In this particular case, Animal Care Services made a mistake," said Norwood. "We understand we made a mistake, we admit we made a mistake. We've got to figure out how to fix it. At this point what we're trying to do is determine was it people, was it process or was it both?"

Tolbert said her next step is to decide which surgery to perform on Cortez. An attempt to fix his pelvis or to amputate his hind left leg will both run at least $2,200. She said local pet groups are attempting to gather donations online to help with the costs.