Martini (aka Bella) explores a pile of laundry at Corey Freeman's home. (Corey Freeman, Contributed)
CARY, N.C. -
A Cary woman says a local veterinarian is refusing to return her cat after she took it to the clinic with an ear infection.
Corey Freeman said she adopted Bella for $150 from the Cat Clinic of Cary after a friend told her that a cat at the vet was in need of a new home.
"I looked at Bella and she seemed like a sweet cat," Freeman recalled.
Freeman said she renamed the cat Martini (to pair with her dog Olive), bought her a new bed, cat litter and toys. But the first night, she said she noticed something irregular.
"I noticed that she had some stuff in her ear, it kind of looked like she had cobwebs in her ear," Freeman said. "I was like, 'That's interesting.'"
Freeman said she intended to take Martini back to the Cat Clinic of Cary, but she said the veterinarian, Dr. Jennifer Eachus, makes house calls on Wednesdays and wasn't immediately available. So she said she took her cat to Olive's regular vet, GentleCare.
She said the vet at GentleCare confirmed that Martini had a bad infection in her right ear and a mild infection in her left ear. She said the vet also microchipped Martini and trimmed her nails.
Freeman said the total bill was just under $300.
"She had a severe ear infection. I was really upset [Martini] came to me in so much distress," Freeman said. "You guys are a cat clinic."
The next morning Freeman said she called the Cat Clinic to talk to Eachus about Martini's ear infection and ask for a reimbursement of the adoption fee because of the condition Martini was in.
The clinic asked Freeman to bring Martini in along with her medical records, but Freeman said she could not have predicted what would happen minutes after she arrived.
Freeman recalled the vet took Martini into a room where Freeman was told she would be checked out.
"A few moments later, the vet, the doctor comes out [and says], 'Here's your check for the adoption fee. You can't take the cat out of here, the cat is now clinic property,'" Freeman said. "I immediately was like, 'You can't do that, there's no way you can do that and I don't want your money. I want my cat back.'"
But she didn't get Martini back.
Freeman said Eachus reminded her that they had a verbal agreement that she would only bring Martini to the Cat Clinic for any veterinary care. She also said Eachus claimed that Freeman was "duped" and that Martini did not have an ear infection.
WNCN reached out to Eachus to speak on camera, but she instead released a ?statement saying the cat "had a clean bill of health and never had an ear infection."
"Dr. Eachus examined Bella and deemed her in good health before Corey picked her up," the clinic said in a statement. "After her return, Bella's ears were verified to be free of infection, and to have not been infected recently, by not only Dr. Eachus, but also a board-certified veterinary surgeon and two additional independent practices."
The clinic said it also fully reimbursed Freeman "for both the adoption fee and veterinary bills at another clinic."
Eachus said she does not foresee ever returning the cat to Freeman and that "Bella is now living a healthy, pampered life in a safe home."
Freeman, meanwhile, said she doesn't know if she'll adopt a cat from somewhere else.