SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - A Rowan County Animal Control Officer has been placed on administrative leave with pay until an investigation involving a cat is complete.
The cat, named Cooper, allegedly received severe injuries while at the shelter and under the care of that employee.
"Rowan County is deeply saddened to hear that an animal received injuries while at our shelter." Rowan County Manager Aaron Church wrote.
Church gave WBTV a statement about the incident. The statement reads, "Until the state completes an investigation the county is unable to give exact specifics."
The cat is at an animal hospital getting treatment.
"The county has contacted the Carolina Animal Hospital of Charlotte, to convey that we will be covering all the vet bills," Church wrote.
The guardian of the cat, Debbie Orbison says Cooper was about to get a micro-chip when the incident occurred. Orbison says she was told the cat was misbehaving.
"He acted up when they were doing the Microchip and that's why he was bleeding," she said recalling her conversation.
A doctor examined Cooper and discovered his jaw was broken in two places.
"My first initial reaction was I was irate," Orbison said. "Because they take them back behind closed doors and you know you have an animal that goes back there fine, then they come back out and they are injured."
Orbison says Cooper's recovery will be lengthy. Cooper now has braces and will have to come back to the doctor for a checkup every two weeks. Also, Cooper will have to eat liquid food for the next few months.
"Who could hurt an animal like this." Orbison said.
The county has agreed to pay for Cooper's vet bills and wants to improve things at the shelter.
"Again, we regret that this occurred," the county manager wrote. "And we will continue to make every effort to treat all animals humanely as we improve our policies and the care that animals receive at our facility."
State officials tell WBTV the investigation should take about a week. An investigator went to the shelter Thursday to conduct interviews and to make sure procedures were followed. If the investigation proves there is a violation, the shelter could be fined, receive a warning or a civil penalty.
Cooper is out of the hospital and is staying with Orbison. She tells says she will keep him while he is on the road to recovery and beyond if need be.