Vet cleared in mix-up over cat

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2007, 12:00am

A tribunal has cleared a vet of misconduct over a sick cat whose owners she had been accused of misleading - allegedly so she could keep the animal for herself.

A Veterinary Surgeons Board tribunal heard that Wang Chiu-man had taken her cat Jai Jai to Kylie Griffin's 24-hour Sai Ying Pun clinic around 8.30pm on March 16, 2004.

The tribunal heard that the vet, through her assistant, had told the owner and her sister Wang Ching-man the cat had a urethral obstruction and was close to death.

Dr Griffin said she told the sisters they had three options - to treat the cat, which would cost at least HK$4,000, allow her to euthanise it or leave the cat with her to die naturally.

The sisters then left the Ark Veterinary Hospital, leaving behind the cat, a British shorthair.

Around 1am the next day, the sisters, who do not speak English, went back to the clinic with a friend Cheung Tin-yin, who speaks English, to talk to Dr Griffin. Ms Cheung - who, the tribunal heard, is a police inspector - interpreted for them, the vet said.

Dr Griffin said she had told Ms Wang her cat was close to death and was resting, and had shown them the cat. In a hearing last month, Ms Cheung testified Dr Griffin had falsely told them the cat was dead and that it was only when they pushed their way into a consultation room that they found Jai Jai still alive. She said she had suspected the vet of seeking to keep the cat for herself.

Yesterday Dr Griffin told the hearing: 'To my knowledge, nobody told Ms Wang the cat had been destroyed or sent anywhere else.'

Dr Griffin denied misleading the sisters and Ms Cheung, saying there had been a miscommunication.

She said Ms Cheung, believing the cat to be dead, had asked her what had happened about disposing of its body. The vet told the board she had been confused by Ms Cheung's question but had told her Goodbye Dear Pets Cremation Centre was reliable.

Susan Liang, solicitor for Dr Griffin, suggested Ms Cheung had been very angry at the time and had misunderstood Dr Griffin.

The tribunal chairman, Nelson Lam Hon-wan, ruled the sisters' evidence could not be relied upon since they had not communicated directly with Dr Griffin. He said Ms Cheung's evidence was subjective since she may have been misled by the sisters.

The cat went on to live another three years, before dying of kidney failure.