'Twas a sad ending to a lovely Lady.


Byline: Dianne Williamson


Cats aren't known for their intellectual prowess, but most possess a weird, preternatural intuition about trips to the veterinarian.

My cat, for example, tends to squash itself under the couch before a pending visit, and becomes so agitated when finally captured and put in the cat carrier that I've more than once commented to a friend, "Gee, you'd think I was going to murder her."

So after learning that a healthy 8-year-old cat brought to a veterinarian for a flea bath was instead euthanized by mistake, I had two reactions: 1. Oh, My God; and, 2. It's a good thing cats can't read, because trips to the vet are tough enough already.

The story of the puss named Lady and its sad trip to Broadway Animal Hospital in Gardner has attracted news attention around the country, because most pet lovers can empathize with the sorrow of Lady's owner, Colleen Conlon, who made an appointment after Dr. Muhammad Malik told her the bath was the best method to rid the cat of fleas.

Her son Jesse, 24, brought Lady to Broadway, and Conlon said he filled out a form and left. When he returned, Lady had been put down.

"I don't think there was any malicious intent, but I do think it was negligent," Conlon said. Dr. Malik, a vet for 30 years, isn't talking. Yesterday, however, his lawyer, Michael Sheridan, said there's more to the story.

On Sept. 17, he said, a man called Broadway saying he wanted to euthanize his cat. Within "the same time period," Conlon called to make an appointment for the flea bath, Sheridan said. When Jesse arrived with Lady, the vet assumed it was the man who called to have his cat put down. And not only was Jesse given forms to sign, but Dr. Mailk also asked him verbal questions about the disposal of Lady's body, Sheridan said.

While most people likely assume that Jesse signed the form without reading it, Sheridan claimed that Jesse had to have read the form because he filled out questions. He said the form used the word euthanize "two to four times," although he couldn't elaborate.

Sheridan stressed that he wasn't trying to "point the finger" or cast blame on the Conlons for the fatal miscommunication.


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