Tragic death of family pet sparks plea for owners to get cats and dogs microchipped

The USPCA has urged all dog and cat owners to ensure their pets are microchipped.
The USPCA has urged all dog and cat owners to ensure their pets are microchipped.

The tragic death of a family’s cat which was mistaken for a stray has prompted a plea for pet owners to ensure their animals are microchipped.

Local woman Julie Neeson posted details of the heartbreaking incident on Facebook last week, explaining how her cat, Babies - her family pet of 15 years - was mistaken for a stray by a neighbour who took it to the in-store vet at Pets at Home, Longwood Retail Park where it was put down a short time later.

Details of the tragic incident, which Julie says has left her family “heartbroken”, were carried by media outlets across the country, drawing a huge reaction from animal lovers across Northern Ireland and beyond.

Responding to public criticism of the decision to euthanise the family’s pet, a spokesperson for Pets at Home said that the vet had been “acting in the best interests of the cat.”

He commented: “Our vet has over 12 years’ experience and quickly diagnosed that the cat was in the end-stages of chronic renal failure. He had clearly suffered from this condition for a number of years and was unfortunately untreatable. He was not wearing a collar, and was scanned for a microchip but none was found. Unable to identify the owners and with the cat suffering, he made the difficult decision to put him down.”

Following last week’s incident, USPCA chief executive Stephen Philpott urged all pet owners to have their animals microchipped.

“The USPCA encourage all pet owners to microchip their animals in order to prevent the distress caused to all parties when an animal goes missing. The USPCA offer free microchipping every Sunday at the Animal Hospital between 1pm and 6pm,” he said.

For more information about the USPCA’s pet microchipping services log on to uspca.co.uk

• To read the related story ‘Pets at Home defends vet who put down family’s cat after it was mistaken for a stray’ click here.