Shirley Koshi, DVM, took her own life on February 16, 2014, only 7 months after opening her solo practice in New York City.1 Koshi, a native of India who had practiced in the U.S. for much of her 33-year career, endured vicious online attacks and severe financial pressure in the last months of her life as she defended herself in a cat custody battle.1,2
Stunned and saddened to learn of the events leading to her suicide, the veterinary community is confronting a harsh reality: Cyberbullying. No longer harming only children and teenagers, cyberbullying can also have devastating consequences for veterinary professionals, who may need to develop new skills and resources to prevent this harassment from harming their practices and disrupting their personal lives.
Koshi’s troubles began last summer when 2 rescuers presented a sick tuxedo cat found in a nearby park.3 “This cat had been living in the park for I don’t know how many years and had had several bouts of upper respiratory disease, so living outdoors was not the best thing for this cat,” Koshi said in a video posted online after her death (which was later deleted).4 The cat improved and “had stayed here for 2 weeks. Then this woman showed up saying, ‘It’s my cat.’ If it were her cat, it shouldn’t be living in a park, especially a public park. So she went to court but she didn’t have any proof that she was the owner, and she had no proof that she was allowed to keep this cat colony in a public park.”
“I fight for pets as much as I can”