Screenshot of a Facebook post by FurreverGrateful Rescue, from spcaLA president Madeline Bernstein's blog, censored by the Post. Click to view the original image. (WARNING: This image is of a cat with an erosive facial tumor, which some viewers may find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.)
A Long Beach veterinarian had his license revoked after a 2015 investigation by the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles found he was conducting unnecessary surgeries on a cat, the nonprofit announced Wednesday.
James Whitney had his veterinarian license revoked by the California Veterinary Medical Board after it was discovered that he subjected a “feline patient to unnecessary surgeries, and therefore needless pain and suffering,” a release from spcaLA stated. As a result, Whitney can no longer legally practice veterinary medicine in California.
Humane officers with spcaLA began investigating Whitney and Furrever Grateful Rescue (FGR) in 2015 following an animal cruelty tip by a veterinarian, officials stated.
They discovered that Whitney was providing inadequate medical care to a cat suffering from an erosive tumor that eventually ate away at the left side of his face, including eye, part of the nose and mouth.
September 2014 medical records showed the cat, named Sandy, was taken to Long Beach-based Primary Care Animal Hospital by FGR for an “eye issue” where tissue was removed from the eye area three times, but never biopsied, and drained of fluids multiple times while the affected area grew, according to officials.
Whitney never provided a diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment plan. The medical board also discovered that Whitney committed other acts of negligence and incompetence, and also maintained extremely inadequate medical records, the release stated.
The cat was reduced to less than six pounds as the tumor consumed its entire face and caused him to suffer and waste away, according to officials.
In February 2015, FGR took Sandy to a different hospital where the veterinarian there noted the cat’s large necrotic tumor and diagnosed it with end stage squamous cell carcinoma.
The vet recommended euthanasia seeing as there was “no effective treatment for his condition” based on his poor condition and abominable quality of life, his refusal to eat and weight loss, officials stated.
Instead, FGR took Sandy to a warehouse where he was checked on daily. The vet was so disturbed by Sandy’s condition, which was the worst the doctor had ever seen, that the doctor contacted spcaLA and the veterinary board.
The cat was eventually euthanized.
During the investigation, spcaLA found out that FGR was using Sandy’s condition for fundraising for the cat on social media, not an uncommon practice, according to officials, and one meant to pull at donors’ hearts and purse strings.
“It is unclear why Whitney or Furrever Grateful Rescue allowed the miserable suffering of this animal,” spcaLA President Madeline Bernstein stated. “Whatever their intentions, whether motivated by naivete or greed, this kind of cruelty is beyond words. No living being should ever suffer like that.”
No animal cruelty charges are pending against FGR at this time because the rescue group is within the letter of the law and “provided medical care,” officials stated. However, the attorney general is looking into whether they are compliant with annual nonprofit regulations. As of today, FGR's social media accounts appear to have been deleted, and most information has been removed from its website.
As the only private animal welfare organization in the city of Los Angeles, spcaLA is also law enforcement in the area and spcaLA humane officers hold the same powers as peace officers in the state when investigating animal cruelty, according to officials.