A WOMAN from Newport has spoken of her shock at the “lack of compassion” she claims was shown by an out-of-hours vet service.

Marilyn Jones’ cat, Barny, was put to sleep 24 hours after arriving at V.E.T.S. on Cardiff ’s Merthyr Road.

Mrs Jones, 74, said her experience with the firm left her feeling like “they couldn’t have cared less” – especially when, she claimed, a member of staff handed Mrs Jones a card payment machine while she was still cradling her dead cat in her arms

“There was no compassion there,” Mrs Jones, 74, said. “I felt so vulnerable.”

Barny was taken ill on September 8, prompting Mrs Jones to take him to her local vet based in Newport.

There, a vet gave the cat some medication to improve its appetite, but at home a few hours later Mrs Jones found Barny convulsing on the floor.

Immediately, Mrs Jones and her husband took Barny to the out-of-hours service which had been recommended to them by their usual vet.

Mrs Jones said: “We [went] in there and I said to the lady behind the desk: 'I’ve brought my cat, he’s had a fit.'”

Mrs Jones said the receptionist immediately required a payment of £200.

“That was the first thing, £200 was taken off, there and then, and she hadn’t done anything – nobody had done anything.”

On its website, V.E.T.S. says clients from certain surgeries are entitled to reduced consultation fees, and according to a list formerly available on the V.E.T.S. website, Mrs Jones would have qualified for this lower rate – but she said she was not asked about this, and so paid a higher fee.

Barny was kept in overnight for tests, and when Mrs Jones called V.E.T.S. the following day, she was told she could visit her cat.

What happened next left Mrs Jones and her husband “flabbergasted”, she said.

“They brought him in wrapped in a blanket. The vet said he was gravely ill and he thought it would be better if we let him go,” she said.

“My husband was looking at me – he knew I didn’t want that cat to die.

“I wish I’d said: 'No, I’m taking him home' – I wish I’d done that, but I wasn’t thinking straight.”

Mrs Jones held Barny while the vet put him to sleep.

“After Barny died I put him back on the bed and I cwtched him up,” she said. “Nobody came in to see us to ask if we were alright.

“While I was in there, after he’d been put to sleep, [the receptionist] brought the card machine in and told me I owed her £571.

“I couldn’t believe it, normally you pay when you’re going out.

“It’s like when you go to the dentist, the dentist doesn’t stick the machine under your nose and say 'you’ve just had £40 worth of treatment'.

“There was no compassion there.”

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) recommends vets explain fees and charges to their clients, but Mrs Jones said she wasn’t provided with an explanation or a bill while she was at the V.E.T.S. clinic.

When asked about Mrs Jones’ case, an RCVS spokesman said: “We are very sorry to hear about the death of [Mrs Jones’] cat and the upset this has caused.

“While we wouldn’t want to comment on these allegations, the owner is welcome to contact the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to discuss their concerns.”

A spokeswoman for V.E.T.S. said she was unable to discuss the details of Mrs Jones’ case due to data protection and client confidentiality reasons.

However, she said the firm would be “more than willing” to investigate Mrs Jones’ experience if a written complaint was made.