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B.C. family says care home switched mom’s cat with robot cat

Staff alleged to have said they were taking cat for bath, then replaced her with robotic stuffed toy

The family of a Vancouver Island woman who has dementia say staff at a care home removed her cat and replaced it with a robotic stuffed animal.

Dawn Douglas has been living at the Sunridge Place care home in Duncan for nearly two years and her family says they’ve been working to reunite their mother with Snoop.

Bill Court says he was told Snoop could move in with his mother if they supplied appropriate documentation from the family doctor and a veterinarian, and also agreed to be responsible for the cat’s hygiene and vet bills.

Lisa Douglas says negotiations took some time to reunite her mother with Snoop.

“It took a year and a half to jump through all the loops and hoops and permissions,” Douglas said.

Within a day of the reunion, Court alleges staff at the care home told his mother they were taking Snoop for a bath, then replaced her with a robotic stuffed toy, leaving his 66-year-old mother distraught.

A spokeswoman for Park Place Seniors Living, which operates the home, said a staff member had a severe allergic reaction and the cat had to be removed.

“What we ended up having to do was rehome the pet with a staff member who is lovely and real animal lover until we could find a resolution and work with the family,” said Lynda Foley, vice-president of quality assurance.

Foley said she could not comment on allegations that Douglas was told the cat was being removed to have a bath, but she said Park Place does use robotic animals for some residents.

She said live-in pets are not permitted at any Park Place facility and she had not seen documents the family believe show permission for the cat’s permanent stay at Sunridge Place.

“My side of the story continues to be that the well being of our residents and our staff comes first,” she said.

Court, who now has Snoop, and Douglas say they are pursuing the matter on their mother’s behalf with the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

“She was so much more calm and focused and that was the whole point of her having the cat, was to relieve her of her anxiety,” said Douglas.

Beth Leighton

The Canadian Press

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