ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Rowan County Animal Control has reportedly been cleared after allegations of animal abuse when a cat's jaw was broken during a microchipping.
According to Rowan County Manager Aaron Church, the NC Department of Agriculture has completed its investigation of the incident with Cooper the cat.
The guardian of the cat, Debbie Orbison, says Cooper was about to get a micro-chip at the shelter 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. Photos of Cooper's bloody and broken jaw were posted on social media and went viral. The Rowan County Animal Control faced backlash and an employee was placed on administrative leave with pay until an investigation could be completed.
Dr. Patricia Norris, the Director of the Animal Welfare Section, provided her report to county officials Monday morning.
"According to the report the Veterinary review of the fractures show that the injury is most consistent with a recent accidental type injury," the release from Church said. "The statements of the shelter staff, rescue personnel and veterinarians, the veterinary medical records and the shelter records have been reviewed. The review concludes that as Cooper was provided with access to veterinary care within 30 minutes of injury."
The investigation concludes there was no violation of the NC Animal Welfare Act.
WBTV contacted Church and asked if the employee had been taken off leave, but Church says that employee's status had not changed since he had just gotten the report a couple of hours before.
Earlier this month, Cooper was at an animal hospital getting treatment. The county had contacted the hospital and agreed to cover "all the vet bills." He was later released to Orbison's care.
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.
"Again, we regret that this occurred," Church wrote in a statement earlier this month. "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."