Monday, December 13, 2010

The cougar story

This was told to us by our surgery professor during our 2nd or 3rd year of veterinary school. It should have been an early hint about what we would deal with as veterinarians.

The surgery service at our school was presented with a privately owned pet adolescent female cougar (about 1 year old). She had suffered severe burns to her gums and mouth - so bad that they required surgical intervention. The wounds appeared to have been caused by a caustic substance, so the surgeon sat down to chat with the owners.

The story unfolded as follows: the cougar had become "mouthy" as she aged. She had started "teething" on the ONE YEAR OLD child in the house, gnawing on his arms and such. The owners decided, in their infinite wisdom, to stop this behavior. They applied Icy-Hot to their arms and encouraged the cougar to bite them. If you have ever used Icy-Hot on your skin, you can imagine how it would feel on your mucus membranes. It burns. Hence, the burns in the cougar's mouth.

You might think they couldn't get stupider, but there's more.

The surgery department went in and fixed the damage, doing skin grafts around the lips, debriding the necrotic oral tissue, etc. The cougar recovered normally, but when all was said and done, the owners were not pleased. They complained that the repair was not cosmetically appealing. The surgeon was dumbfounded. Why did it matter if it was perfect cosmetically?

"Well," the owner replied, "we have a male in the house too, and we're going to breed them and sell the cubs. If people see the female cougar, they might think she was born that way."

My surgeon professor said that she offered to adopt the ONE YEAR OLD CHILD out of the house, so that it wouldn't be killed in the near future.

Talk about stupid.


Elizabeth said...

You know, in general I believe that we have too many laws and that people should be able to figure things out for themselves. And then I read a story like this and I realize that we probably need more laws to protect people from themselves. Breeding tigers in a house with a baby?!

HP said...

I have no words... wow. Moronic doesn't even come close to describing those people. Scary to know people like that exist... and that we get to deal with them!

The Homeless Parrot said...

Elizabeth: I think there should be a very simple IQ test administered to everyone before they can procreate. I could even write it.

Question 1: True/False: It is a good idea to keep a pair of cougars in the house with your children.

There you go. That's it.

Holly said...


wow. Just wow. And people worry about pitties.

Kerry said...

Oh wow... people are dumb. I just laughed out loud when I read this but it's really not a funny situation.

Elizabeth said...

Unfortunately you can't fix stupid.

Mary said...

Wow. This just makes me sad on so many levels. Poor baby. Poor cougar. I hope they didn't manage to do anymore breeding (themselves or the big cats.)

Hermit Thrush said...

I don't understand, could this be true? Were they not required to have permits to have cougars in that state? Most hospitals, especially at veterinary schools, will investigate whether a client has the legal permits for a wild animal before taking the case otherwise it is a liability for the hospital. I just can't imagine how this would be legal or why it wasn't reported to animal control as abuse??? And child protective services??? I have to wonder whether this might not have been made up or embellished.

The Homeless Parrot said...

The owners had a permit. It is not difficult at all to obtain one in my home state.

Unless our very well-known surgeon faked the pictures in our skin grafting lecture, it was real. She's not the type to just make up stories for entertainment value.

God knows I see stuff equally stupid in ER medicine every single day. As awful and stupid as it was, it was true.