GARDNER, Mass. -- A Massachusetts woman says her cat went to the veterinarian for a flea bath but was mistakenly put to death.

Colleen Conlon of Gardner is grieving the loss of 8-year-old Lady, which she attributes to negligence by the vet, Muhammad Malik. Malik's lawyer says people should wait until all the facts come out before passing judgment.

Conlon's 24-year-old son, Jesse, took Lady to the Broadway Animal Hospital last week and unknowingly authorized the cat to be put to sleep after he says he was handed the wrong forms. He says he learned of the mix-up when he returned with a second cat and the vet asked whether he wanted to keep the body.

"At first he thought it was some cruel joke," Conlon told the Telegram & Gazette.

But the vet told her son he'd signed the papers. Her son didn't leave the other cat at the vet's office, Conlon said.

Conlon said she has filed a complaint with the state attorney general's office and plans to talk with state licensing officials.

"I don't think there was any malicious intent, but I do think it was negligent," Conlon said. "I'm sure there are standards of practice they have to follow."

Conlon's daughter had given her the cat about a year before she was killed in a car accident in 2010.

Malik's lawyer, Michael Sheridan, said Malik is well-respected and has saved many animals' lives during his 30 years as a veterinarian.

"He's treated thousands of animals, keeping them healthy and strong," Sheridan said.

Sheridan declined to comment on a one-year probation period imposed on Malik's license in 2005, for failing to follow standards when he treated a dog's paw in 2002, the newspaper reported. Malik also was ordered to take 25 hours of continuing education in radiology and orthopedics.

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