Cat dies after being left overnight at animal hospital that wasn’t staffed 24 hours

Animal clinic now advising clients there is no staff on site during overnight hours

SUNRISE, Fla. – A South Florida woman is outraged after she said her beloved cat recently died while in the care of a local vet clinic.

While Rosemary Kelly thought she left her cat to be cared for, nobody was actually staffing the clinic during the overnight hours.

Kelly says her family never got to say goodbye to 9-year-old Eve.

In mid-July, Eve became severely sick, having trouble walking, eating and drinking.

Kelly rushed her to Scarborough Animal Hospital in Sunrise where X-rays were taken, bloodwork was done and a thyroid screening was ordered. A diagnosis of hyperthyroidism was likely.

“Dr. Julia Druby recommended that we keep her there overnight. They would put her on an iv with fluids and meds and something to enhance her appetite,” Kelly explained. “The nurse said, ‘Listen, we will give you follow up calls. When you call, you may see that I’m holding her -- you can ask for pictures and you can even text.’”

Kelly spoke to the vet at 4 p.m. for a status quo update, but her 6 p.m. call was not answered as the vet office was closed.

The next call she would receive from the veterinarian was the next morning, and by then, it was too late.

“She said that she was very sorry, that she had sad news -- that when they went in this morning, they found that Evie had passed away, so when they opened, they found that Evie was gone,” Kelly said. “I said, ‘Why was she alone? I didn’t know that she was alone.’ And she said, ‘Unfortunately we don’t have anybody -- we don’t have staff on here at night.’”

“So was it an assumption you made when you were leaving the cat overnight, was it an assumption that somebody would be there?” Local 10 animal advocate Jacey Birch asked.

“Yes! I mean, assumption -- I never even thought about it! She recommended that we leave our cat there!” Kelly responded.

If there was going to be no care and no treatment overnight, Kelly says she would rather have her cat at home where she could comfort her and love on her, instead of her being alone in an empty building all night.

“I got charged an overnight stay for hospital care! Where is the care?” Kelly asked. “Evie may have been in distress -- there was no one there to monitor her, no one there to help her, maybe save her, but really just to comfort her.”

Kelly could not comprehend why she would be asked to leave her cat at a vet hospital that does not provide 24-hour care.

Birch went to the animal hospital but was told Dr. Druby was not in and the other veterinarians on staff and the office manager could not provide answers either.

One employee told Birch they were instructed to tell her “no comment.”

A statement from Scarborough was later provided through the representation of Jeremy Franco, of National Veterinary Associates, which read in part:

“Our small team and general practice clinic restrict our capacity to serve in-person outside hours of operation, and we routinely strive to communicate this to our clients. When patients must stay overnight, their health and comfort is always our top priority.”

With no closure and no chance to bid farewell to their Eve, the family says Eve’s feline brother, Adam, is suffering along with them.

“Since she’s gone, he keeps going to the corner of the patio. He smells her, he’s looking for her constantly,” Kelly said.

But through their pain and loss, they just want to save others from this heartbreak.

“I don’t want money. I want justice for Evie! And I want to bring as much attention as I can to them for their wrongdoing and make other people aware of what they need to ask so they are not left in this position,” Kelly said.

About two weeks after our initial conversations with Kelly and Scarborough, she continued to advocate and fight for Evie. Finally she received word from the vet’s office that “in light of your experience, we are having clients sign a form acknowledging that their pets will be hospitalized outside of our hours of operation without any staff present.”

About the Author:

Jacey Birch anchors Local 10 News Mornings each weekday from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. She is also proud to be the animal advocate for Local 10's investigative team.