Saving Gary the cat from animal cruelty

A seriously injured tabby cat found in Somerville highlights the increasing incidence of cruelty to animals in Victoria, writes Brooke Grebert-Craig.

From a distance you can see a furry creature on the side of the road. It lays in a hunched position, lifeless. Cars, trucks and motorbikes drive past but no one stops. No one cares. Until the Mornington Shire Ranger comes along.

Found in Somerville, Gary the tabby cat had a fractured pelvis and sacrum, dislocated sacroiliac joint (between the lower spine and pelvis) and was suffering from a life threatening diaphragmatic hernia. His x-ray, conducted at East Mornington Veterinary Hospital, showed that his abdominal contents had moved into his chest from a tear on his left diaphragm.

Statistics conducted by RSPCA in 2015 show that animal cruelty is on the rise. In Victoria 10,740 complaints were investigated compared to 10,708 in the previous year. Earlier this year, a dog died due to a random attacker wrapping its entire head with duct tape in Craigieburn.

Dr Emily Warfield, veterinarian at East Mornington Veterinary Hospital says: “It’s easier to separate an animal’s pain from what a human would suffer but they do feel the emotional recourse from the horrendous acts of cruelty.”

Animal cruelty can be separated into two types. Dr Warfield says: “The one that everyone thinks of is direct violence. Recently a cat was bought into our vet that was strangled. It survived but it took a while to get that information out of the client. They didn’t know why their cat was having trouble breathing. Luckily the cat was re-homed to a safer environment.”

Wynta Pinchen from Camberwell, has seen the affects of direct violence on domestic pets. She rescued her eight-year-old dog, Crystal, from an abusive breeder when the poodle was just three years-old. Pinchen said: “She had fresh scars all over her nose from when her previous owner would hit her. Crystal was very shy and didn’t act like a happy dog until six months after we rescued her. She was constantly afraid and even to this day, if she see’s anyone that reminds her of her previous owner, Crystal will hide.”

This highlights how the physical, abusive acts of cruelty can psychologically stay with the animals forever. They may never eat, sleep or behave in the same way again.

Dr Warfield says the other side to animal cruelty is “tougher” to approach. “It’s things like dental disease where the animal’s teeth are rotting out of its mouth. I have seen a few broken legs where people have refused treatment or any sorts of a pain management plan. They just can’t justify the cost.”

However, the new introduction of Guideline 20 – Obligation to Report established by the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria, brings a well deserved change to animal welfare.

“If a registered veterinary practitioner is of the reasonable belief that there exists or potentially exists, a serious risk to the health and safety of the public and/or the health and welfare of an animal, the practitioner should report the matter to the relevant authority. This responsibility takes precedence over the obligation to maintain client confidentially.”

Evidently, this gives more power to the veterinarian and protects the welfare of our animals. If you ever see acts of cruelty taking place, Dr Warfield says: “Report it to the police or the RSPCA.” Who knows, you may be the next person to save a cat just like Gary.”