disclaimer: this happened in the early 90s in texas. i was young and stupid, and i made some mistakes that helped create the opportunity for serious pro-level fuckery, but not enough to mitigate the bad service part.
my then-husband and i had separated a few months before. we each took two cats; i had tero (the world's sweetest cat) and mithril (miffer, a giant maine coonish cat who wasn't shy about telling you when he was unhappy). one of the cats steven took was herman, who had been trying to die in various creative ways for years. his latest effort centered on his bladder -- if he ate anything but prescription food, he started peeing red.
my guys needed their shots, but i was a starving student then and didn't have the money. my husband offered to pay if i'd pick up a bag of prescription food while i was there. i said sure and he gave me a blank check. i realize that sounds weird, but we had done this before at another vet without problems, so i figured it would be pretty straightforward. this was my first mistake. in my defense, things were different 15 years ago.
i made an appointment with a vet who worked out of a converted house a few blocks from my place. i think it was the vet himself i talked to that day, because when i was actually there i never saw a receptionist and he had a solo practice. i explained the paying-with-husband's-check thing and he said there wouldn't be a problem with that.
on the day, i bundled my two guys into the car and set out. (yes, this is mistake #2. i learned that day that carriers are never ever optional when you are transporting cats.) since there were two of them and one of me, i left miffer in the car (not summer, parked in the shade with windows slightly open) and brought tero in first. the vet greeted us right away and took us back to an exam room. tero was a sweetheart and i was pleased with how the vet interacted with him. i went back to the car to swap out the cats.
i didn't expect this part to go as smoothly, because although miffer was an awesome cat he did not understand why he should not try to destroy strangers who put needles in him. his old vet pulled out the heavy leather gloves when he saw miffer coming. i'd mentioned this to the vet when i made the appointment and i brought it up again when miffer and i were in the exam room. the vet clearly thought i was exaggerating and said that if he held the back end and i held miffer's shoulders down while petting his head then we'd wouldn't need to worry about a thing.
it went about as well as you'd expect. the instant the needle went in miffer started kicking his hind feet. he got them free and, with the needle sticking out of him, flailed around trying desperately to escape. the vet grabbed the syringe, i soothed the cat and calmed him down, we got the shots done, and i comforted my kitty some more. we went to the front part of the office and the vet petted miffer while i wrote out the check.
the vet asked for my id, which i had left at home (mistake 3). i didn't understand why he needed it since it wasn't my check. i tried to argue (yes, another mistake. as i've said, i was young and dumb and i didn't get why he wanted my id for my husband's check. i'm not that dumb anymore). i was frustrated; he was insistent. i filled out the check, left it and the giant bag of food as collateral, and took miffer out to the car. while i was putting him in, tero saw a chance and escaped. fuck.
because the building had once been a house, it had a yard full of bushes and trees and places for a cat to hide. i walked around for about 15 minutes, calling tero and pleading with him to come the fuck out already so i could take him home. finally, i decided to cut my losses, take the cat i still had home, and come back with my id. that part of my plan worked pretty well.
when i got back to the clinic, there was still no sign of tero. i went inside and gave the vet my license. he said, "there. that wasn't so bad, was it?" last straw: i was frustrated and pissed off and upset about my missing cat. i said it *was* that bad because when i went to the car my cat escaped and i couldn't find him and i didn't know where he was.
it wasn't really his fault, but i guess the vet felt bad because he went away and came back with a young guy, probably 19 or 20. he introduced manuel and said, "this lady's cat got loose in the yard. please help her find it." i wanted to be helpful, so i added, "he's a gray tabby and his name is tero. he's very sweet." he smiled and we went outside. he headed one way and i headed the other. i still was having no luck and was about ready to cry when manuel came around the corner of the house, grinning hugely and holding a silver plastic garbage bag. "yay!" i thought. "he found tero." it seemed a bit odd to be transporting a pet in a garbage bag but i figured tero must have fought him, causing him to grab whatever was handy. i took the bag and thanked him over and over.
i was too relieved to notice that tero wasn't moving much as i got into the car. i set the bag on the passenger seat and opened it up, fully expecting to see a small gray tabby cat.
i did not have a cat. i had a dog. a dead dog. i think it was a beagle..
i managed not to scream or fling the bag out of the car, though i did get it on the ground outside my car in a hurry. i was pretty freaked (as one is) and went back inside to try to find out wtf had happened.
the place was deserted. i called out and wandered around a bit without finding anyone, so i went back outside. car was still there, bag was still thre, any other human at all was still not there. i began to wonder if i'd somehow mistaken my live cat for a dead dog. in a sudden moment of self-doubt, i opened the bag again and looked in. still a dog, still dead. okay, then.
i started wondering if i should be looking for hidden cameras but that seemed silly. then i thought about leaving, but it didn't seem right to abandon the dog. it wasn't his fault. besides, i kind of wanted my cat back. i went back inside. this time, the vet was behind the counter and when he saw me he grinned. "did manuel find your cat?" he said.
my brain broke a little. "i don't know what he gave me but it isn't my cat and it's *DEAD*. you gave me a dead dog. i had a live cat and now i have a dead dog and i don't want a dog i want my cat and i want him to be alive." the vet just looked at me. "outside by my car. manuel gave me a dead dog. not a live cat. in a garbage bag. and it's a dog and it's dead and it's not my cat." i burst into tears.
after a moment the vet said, "manuel doesn't speak english very well."
that's when i stormed out, yelling for the fucking cat for about the millionth time that day. i think i sounded like i really really meant it because he came trotting up to me as if i hadn't been searching for him for half an hour. i shoved him in the car. as i was backing out of the driveway, the vet approached. i rolled my window partway down to hear, "i hope this won't affect our relationship." um, yeah.
i drove home as fast as my little car would carry me. when i told a close friend about it later, he was appalled; in an incredulous voice, he said, "you gave it *back*??"