Cat's jaw broken at Rowan Co. Animal Shelter determined to be accidental

- The Rowan County Animal Shelter has been cleared of all allegations after it was discovered a cat in their care suffered a jaw injury. 

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture said on Monday, March 21 their investigation into the incident with "Cooper" the cat is complete. 

Dr. Patricia Norris, the Director of the Animal Welfare Section, provided her report to Rowan County Monday morning. 

According to the report, the Veterinary review of the fractures show that the injury is most consistent with a recent accidental-type injury

The report states on March 8, 2016, the rescue had chosen several cats including Cooper to be adopted and transferred into their care and custody. The rescue personnel instructed the shelter staff to prepare the adoption paperworks and to read the cats for transport. 

One shelter staff member requested the assistance of another staff member in order to microchip and administer a rabies vaccination to Cooper due to the history of previous difficulties when handling the cat. 

The report goes on to state Cooper was in his kennel and a transfer carrier [feral cat den] had been placed in the kennel. They said the feral cat dens are used as a means of providing a hiding place for the cats to reduce their stress. The report said Cooper was not within the den when staff members went to move him. Cooper was not cooperative with their efforts to encourage him to enter the cat den. 

According to the report, during the effort to remove Cooper, he became agitated and ran headlong into the den and the sides of the enclosure. At one point during this period, it states the Plexiglas window pane of the carrier was broken. This window pane had been lifted up to open the window to allow Cooper entry into the carrier. 

The report states drops of blood were first noted by the shelter staff members as Cooper was removed from the kennel. 

Upon removal, Cooper was controlled by one staff members while the second administered the rabies vaccination and inserted the microchip. 

Given the stress condition of Cooper, the report states no further examination was done by the shelter personnel, nor was Cooper scanned to verify the microchip placement once he had been placed in the rescue's transport carrier.

It states shelter staff was concerned that, since Cooper was severely agitated, further handling or examination might exacerbate any injury and increase his stress level. Cooper was transported to the veterinary clinic by the rescue within 30 minutes of being placed in the transport carrier. 

To read the full report, click here. 

Officials said the statements of the shelter staff, rescue personnel and veterinarians, the veterinary medical records and the shelter records have been reviewed. They said the review concludes Cooper was provided with access to veterinary care within 30 minutes of injury. Therefore, veterinary care was provided as required by 02 NC Administrative Code .0210 (c).  

Consequently, they said the findings of this investigation do not substantiate a violation of the NC Animal Welfare Act.

Following Monday's report on Cooper, it was announced Rowan Count Nature Center and Animal Control have been consolidated. Officials said due to the continuing state requirements, Rowan County began working on consolidating the two departments that care for animals on March 14.

This consolidation took effect Monday, March 21.

County Manager Aaron Church stated, “It’s a natural fit.  This move will consolidate two operations that have many similarities.  Staff will have more support and access to additional resources while all four divisions will improve the care that animals receive.”


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