MOUNT VERNON — Maria Fabish of Dublin has filed a case in small claims court against the Knox County Humane Society, alleging that staff at the society knew a cat was ill before adopting it out Dec. 31, 2009.
“The cat actually presented healthy when I got her,” Fabish said. “Within a week of having her, she developed an upper respiratory infection. I took her to my vet and they told me she had herpes, which I guess is rampant in shelters. So we treated that.”
Fabish said that within two weeks the cat started to develop lesions, dry skin and scaly scabs on her ears. The vet diagnosed it as ringworm.
Fabish said the ringworm caused problems because she had other animals in the home, and also because her roommate ran a daycare business out of the home.
“We kept treating her and she didn’t look good,” said Fabish.
The cat kept losing weight, so Fabish again took the cat to the vet. She asked the vet to keep the cat at the clinic and treat her there until the cat could be returned home.
“The day that I went to pick her up, the vet looked in on her and found [the cat] had developed a big abdomen just full of fluid,” said Fabish. “So the cat actually had feline infectious peritonitis. At such a young age the condition was going to be fatal, so I had to put her down.”
Fabish said she spent $2,200 on veterinary bills. She said she called the cat shelter to tell them what happened.
“I talked to one of the staff members or volunteers ... and I said these were the issues I had with one of the cats I adopted from the humane society,” Fabish said. “I wanted you to know in case another cat came up with the same problem.”
According to Fabish, the volunteer allegedly said the humane society knew of the herpes and ringworm problems, but that because of the fear of a mass euthanasia when the new board of directors took over the first of the year, the society wanted to adopt out as many cats as possible.
“They never told me, and I doubt they told other buyers or adopters,” said Fabish. “So that’s why I pursued with the small claims court. I want to recoup some of the money I put into this cat. And I know in the contract it says the shelter is not responsible for any illnesses that present within a certain amount of time. My point is that they knew about two illnesses and didn’t tell me. I know herpes is prevalent in shelters and is easily treatable. But they didn’t tell me about the ringworm, which put me and those children at risk.”
Fabish said she had tried to talk with David Guffey, one of the humane society board members, and the board’s attorney, but did not feel she was getting anywhere.
“I wasn’t getting any answers so I filed the lawsuit,” she said.
When asked why she came to Knox County to adopt a cat instead of going to the Franklin County Humane Society, Fabish said, “Franklin County Humane Society is very well supported. I would rather, if I had the ability to do it, to support another county that is struggling. It’s not like I drove to California. [Knox County] is only an hour away.”
William Kepko, attorney for the humane society, declined to comment, saying it was an ongoing case. A continuance to July 2 has been granted in the case.