• 63°

County employee placed on leave after cat injured

Cooper

Josh Bergeron / Salisbury Post - A cat named Cooper sits in the China Grove Animal Hospital after having his jaw broken. A Rowan County animal control officer allegedly broke the cat's jaw.

Josh Bergeron / Salisbury Post – A cat named Cooper sits in the China Grove Animal Hospital after having his jaw broken. A Rowan County animal control officer allegedly broke the cat’s jaw.

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

A Rowan County animal control officer has been placed on administrative leave following an incident where a cat’s jaw was broken.

The officer, who County Manager Aaron Church declined to name, allegedly broke the cat’s jaw while shelter staff were microchipping the animal. Church said the officer is on administrative leave with pay until a state inspector wraps up an investigation. The cat, named Cooper, was released from China Grove Animal Hospital on Thursday afternoon after receiving surgery that stabilized the front part of his jaw.

China Grove Animal Hospital veterinarian Scott Vaughan said two parts of Cooper’s jaw were fractured. Vaughan said the fractures occurred recently — within a couple days at the most. Vaughan said he was unable to determine exactly when or how the animal’s jaw was broken.

Debbie Orbison, who is fostering Cooper until he is adopted, said the cat will receive additional surgery at a clinic in Charlotte.

The cat’s injuries stoked anger among Rowan’s animal advocate community, with much of the discussion occurring on Facebook. Local animal advocates even created a Facebook page for Cooper that’s attracted hundreds of “likes.” Orbison said dozens of people have also donated hundreds of dollars to help cover Cooper’s veterinary bills.

“When I first started, in my mind I was thinking I’d ask my friends to help cover the costs, raise $10 or $20 and then do the best I could,” she said. “Never in a million years did I think this would happen.”

She alleges that an animal control officer broke Cooper’s jaw Tuesday when placing a microchip in the cat. Orbison said Cooper was healthy when shelter staff brought the cat into a closed-to-the-public area of the shelter. Cooper was bleeding from the mouth after being microchipped, Orbison said.

“I can’t say what happened, but when he went back to get microchipped he was fine,” she said. “He came back with a fractured jaw.”

When asked, Church said he wouldn’t rule out firing an employee depending on the outcome of an investigation. He qualified the statement by saying he doesn’t know what happened or what an investigation would find.

Orbison said she wants “justice done to the people that did this” to Cooper.

“There’s no way this way not done by animal control,” she said. “It’s just so sad because he didn’t deserve this.”

She said Church asked in a phone call whether Cooper’s injuries occurred before or after the cat left the Rowan County.

Orbison said she hasn’t yet decided what to do with Cooper after he receives additional surgeries. At least one person has already offered to adopt Cooper.

For now, Orbison says she’s continuing to raise money to pay for veterinary bills. She has raised enough money through Paypal donations to pay for the stabilizing surgery at the China Grove Animal Hospital, but says she will need additional money for more intensive operations.

To contact Orbison, email debbieorbison@yahoo.com.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

Comments

Kannapolis

Cannon Mills’ whistle sounds again, brings nostalgia with it

Coronavirus

Outbreak at jail annex over; new cases emerge at Kannapolis facility

Elections

In Senate race, Tillis calibrates ties to Trump

News

5 Charlotte officers recommended for dismissal after death in custody

Elections

Trump, Biden hit unlikely battleground state of Minnesota

College

Maui Invitational moving to Asheville during pandemic

News

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

Crime

Blotter: Sept. 19

Coronavirus

Kannapolis brewery linked to eight COVID-19 positives

Elections

Local Democrats call to ‘turn the state blue’ during virtual office reopening

Education

Funding flat, enrollment down slightly for Rowan-Salisbury Schools

Education

Catawba gets high marks in U.S. News and World rankings for fifth year

Business

China Grove soap store sets sights on expansion into Kannapolis

News

Charlotte, UNC game canceled after 49ers place players in quarantine

Crime

Blotter: Sept. 18

Coronavirus

County sees ninth COVID-19 death this week, more than 30 cases reported

BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Cooper announces schools can move K-5 to plan A; school board vote needed locally

Local

Wet weather brings crashes, traffic to standstill on interstate

Crime

Salisbury man victim of Facebook scam, duped out of $2,000

Crime

Two charged after fight outside Salisbury home

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools ships out thousands of old devices for refurbishing

Education

Caught in the infodemic: NC school policies frustrated by scientific challenges

East Spencer

East Spencer to hold community day, provide free food, supplies

Education

Shoutouts