A man is suing a veterinary clinic in Red Bank after asking to see his recently deceased cat and finding out he no longer had a head.
That’s because Amor, a cat owned by Mario Quesada was decapitated by the Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in order for his head to be sent for rabies testing after he bit a nurse during the euthenization process. Under state law, brain tissue samples were required to be sent for testing and the hospital sent his whole head.
When he asked to see the cat for a final viewing before cremation, Quesada said they returned the cat without its head.
According to the lawsuit:
The veterinarian informed plaintiff that Amor’s body would be released the following day to the Hamilton Pet Meadow for cremation per plaintiff’s request. Plaintiff informed the veterinarian that he intended to display Amor’s body for viewing prior to cremation.
Plaintiff paid the veterinary bill and signed the necessary documents authorizing Amor’s cremation, but “[a]t no time did the [RBVH] veterinarian or any other staff disclose anything to [plaintiff] other than that the law required a brain tissue sample be sent for rabies testing.” On June 26, 2017, the veterinarian left plaintiff a voicemail informing him that Amor’s body could not be released until the rabies testing was complete. Plaintiff returned the veterinarian’s phone call and they spoke about Amor’s illnesses and the delay in cremation. At no point did the veterinarian explain to plaintiff what a “brain tissue sample” entailed.
On June 28, 2017, RBVH contacted plaintiff to confirm that Amor had returned a negative rabies test result and that his body was being released to the Hamilton Pet Meadow. Plaintiff again requested a personal viewing of the body, which the RBVH employee made a note of and simultaneously advised plaintiff to speak with the Hamilton Pet Meadow. After speaking with the Hamilton Pet Meadow, plaintiff scheduled Amor’s viewing for June 30, 2017. At Amor’s viewing, plaintiff discovered that Amor had been decapitated. Plaintiff called RBVH demanding to know why he was not informed that Amor would be decapitated, and an RBVH employee referred plaintiff to the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) and provided him Amor’s case number.
The DOH confirmed that Amor’s head had already been disposed of as medical waste. Plaintiff became extremely emotional, and went “into a state of shock, crying and screaming in Hamilton Pet Meadow in front of staff and clientele” and “told anyone in earshot what [RBVH] had done[.]” Plaintiff called the local police department and requested to be connected to grief counseling services. The police department sent two officers to check on plaintiff before determining that he was in no immediate danger but provided him with counseling hotline phone numbers before leaving.