Arizona Humane Society Kills Beloved Kitten

A 49 year old Phoenix man named Daniel Dockery bottle fed a kitten from birth whom he named Scruffy.  He raised enough money to get her spayed when she was old enough, fed her tuna, and slept next to her on the pillow at night.  Mr. Dockery credits Scruffy with helping him to remain sober for one year after battling a lifelong addiction illness.

Earlier this month, 9 month old Scruffy apparently cut herself on fencing and Mr. Dockery took her to the Arizona Humane Society for treatment.  Unable to come up with $400 on the spot, Mr. Dockery asked if the facility would accept his mother’s credit card by phone (she lives in MI) or be willing to accept payment the next day after his mother wired him the cash.  The Arizona Humane Society would do neither.  In fact, they reportedly advised Mr. Dockery that the only way for Scruffy to receive treatment was for him to sign over ownership.  He reluctantly complied.

For the next 3 weeks, Mr. Dockery searched area shelters and repeatedly asked staff about Scruffy.  He kept getting the runaround.  Finally this week, Mr. Dockery learned that Scruffy had been killed shortly after he signed ownership over to the Arizona Humane Society:

Humane Society spokeswoman Stacy Pearson said the agency took Scruffy intending to treat it and put it in foster care, but when she was taken to a second-chance clinic with three other cats, doctors were only available to treat two of them.

So Scruffy was killed and then the owner was lied to for 3 weeks.  Needless to say, Mr. Dockery is distraught:

“Now I’ve got to think about how I failed that beautiful animal,” Dockery said. “I failed her. … That’s so wrong. There was no reason for her not to be treated.”

No sir, you didn’t fail Scruffy. The so-called “Humane Society” failed to do their jobs by protecting her from harm.  You tried to help Scruffy.  The Arizona Humane Society killed her.

Mr. Dockery’s mother too is very upset:

“Don’t you have enough animals in the shelter that you would not want to take a beloved pet from someone who clearly cares for it?” she asked.

A good question.

What changes is the Arizona HS making in light of this highly publicized killing?

The Humane Society said it is reviewing its credit-card policy because of what happened to Scruffy.

Gee.  Color me underwhelmed.

35 thoughts on “Arizona Humane Society Kills Beloved Kitten

  1. I am going to have to start saving these posts until later in the day so i don;t feel sick all day about them.. this is DISGUSTING Four hundred dollars charged by a SHELTER to sew up a cut on a cat that HAS AN OWNER?/ gee they can raise MILLIONS on a dog that has no owner.. treat them for all kinds of ailments.. but hey I guess there was no “additional benefit” to treating a cat that is actually owned.,..poor guy .. reading this kind of crap would drive anyone to drink.. i hope he remains sober.. and I hope the AHS gets a letter from a lawyer..

    1. It’s even worse to me hearing that they could have received full payment for care of Scruffy if only they would take the mother’s credit card over the phone or allow her to wire the cash. They had every reason to believe they would be paid, even if it wasn’t immediate cash in hand. Why not bend their stupid credit card rules in order to get their money since it was obviously so important to them?


  3. So much is wrong with this, I can’t even…

    $400 to stitch up a kitten. WTF? No payment plan in place and no accommodating people to make payment happen. WTF? Taken to a clinic with three other cats and doctors were only “available” to treat two of them. Available? I’m assuming this wasn’t a life-threatening injury – could doctors have been more “available” in an hour? Or the next day? This was a killing of convenience, make no mistake about it. And then they lied to him. He kept asking for THREE WEEKS.

    People will say, “Hey, it’s just an animal.” But this man is now devastated. There’s a human toll here. Shelters need to realize that they’re responsible for the HUMAN aspect of their business. What they do doesn’t just affect animals, it affects people. And when they behave like this, they kill kittens…and hurt people.

  4. HS put in place to protect animals, manages to get an animal that has an owner killed. I think they need to reorganizes because clearly someone is in a position making stupid decision instead of doing their mission statement “to help all animals”….idiot policies made by idiot people apparently.

  5. I went to the Facebook page for his “inhumane” society and here is the Director’s lame excuse/justification for killing Scruffy the kitten. They are getting bombed with negative comments there and people see through their blabber…They need to be investigated! I suggest all of his here go to FB, post our comments, and also send mail to this man too! shame on them all!


    1. Oh give me a break. The director’s statement is missing tiny violins but says that the pound took in 178 animals the day that Scruffy came and “many” needed emergency vet treatment so they did the best they could *sniff* and gee, we’re going to review our credit card by phone policy, what the hell else do you people want?

      1. He does rather throw a lot of excuses at the issue, doesn’t he? The kitten was so badly hurt – we took in so many pets that day, and many required emergency care – some were cruelty cases whom we’re required to hold – we weren’t going to get to her that day and it would be cruel for her to wait for treatment – we tried to call, really!

        Or: let’s throw this … stuff at the wall, and see what sticks.

        Bottom line: if they were willing to treat the kitten right then for $400, then when she was surrendered to them they should’ve treated her – right then, as she would’ve been had the money been there, because that was the implicit agreement. To accept her and then deny her treatment, no matter *what* the reason was, was unethical.

      2. To accept her under the terms of the agreement (that she would receive immediate treatment) and then to KILL HER is so unethical it makes my head spin. If this is how they treat someone who has a relative standing by the phone waiting to give a credit card to pay for vet care, I truly fear to know how they treat people who have no means to pay $400 for a messed up kitty. Even if they couldn’t have treated her immediately (which I am not convinced they couldn’t by their stupid statement), would it have been inhumane to provide her with a pain reliever and a clean soft bed to rest on while she waited until they could get to her? I can’t see how. In the few years I worked in veterinary medicine, I saw torn up cats come in (one was my own who ripped his chest open apparently by catching a nail sticking out of a fence). To a one, they always lay in the cage quietly while waiting for treatment. And this was back when the use of pain meds for pets was not common so I don’t think any of them had pain meds on board. Ugh, I can think of 143 alternate scenarios here where Scruffy comes out alive. All the AZ HS could come up with is one scenario where she ends up dead.

      3. Yes, that’s been my observation over the years too. I’ve seen barbed wire injuries too, though thankfully not to a kitten. I do wonder, though, if Scruffy wasn’t treated not because her wounds were so severe, but because they were so fiddly.

        Buried in the director’s slurry fog there, is the implication also that any pet who can’t be treated at intake will be killed rather than nursed overnight. At least, that’s how I read it.

      4. Just for the record, if I ever suffer an injury that renders me incapable of making my wishes known and someone takes me to the AZ HS for treatment, I would still like to LIVE, even if they are too busy to treat me immediately. kthx.

  6. FAIL. More than that I cannot say without being entirely rude, angry, and murderous, which I am trying to curb thanks to a friend (you know who you are). FAIL FAIL FAIL. If I were that man, I would sue them for personal injury and suffering. If he falls to drink again, then even more so.

  7. According to the TV piece, AHS offered to provide the owner with grief counseling. There’s a new one. We’re a full-service organization . . . we’ll kill your cat and then help you feel okay about it!

  8. The first question to be asked here is: where do they get their policy/management/kill manuals?

    A great many shelters use the manuals written by HSUS, and I don’t think we should expect those to reflect any kindness or caring in terms of how animals are treated.

    I agree that he should sue, but the catch is that it costs more than $400 to initiate suit, and I’m guessing that if he didn’t have the $400, he won’t seek redress through the courts.

    And what about that fee? My (rather limited) experience with clinics tells me that it is probably cheaper to find an independent veterinary practitioner when your animals need a vet. Not for regular shots, but certainly for something like this. And I wouldn’t seek that sort of help from *any* shelter. Perhaps the kitten really was severely injured, but *why* don’t people try the independent vets first?

    What a tragedy.

  9. they are given millions in donation money to save animals.. not to kill them they should be investigated for fraud. there must be justice for scruffy and his owner.

  10. This sadness made the ABC News site when I just checked in the left column today…at least these heart-breaking killers are having their dirty deeds known –

  11. i just don’t even understand this. When someone offers to pay over the phone- take the damn payment! Seriously- if they’re like any other pound or shelter getting any service fees out of people is like pulling teeth- take what you can get!
    I also don’t understand the service they were offering- $400 and AHS would stitch up the kitten? And when he couldn’t afford it he surrendered the kitten but then AHS took it to a vet clinic for treatment? Why didn’t they just treat the kitten themselves- and if they don’t offer that service/have that ability, then why are they asking for $400? If they were just going to take it to a 2nd chance clinic- couldn’t the owner just have done that himself?

  12. The entire story makes me sick. This was a HUMANE society? $400 for stitches? They couldn’t waive payment to an indegent? $400 for stitches? They couldn’t take card payment by phone? $400 for stitches? They saved 2 of 3? $400 for stitches? Kittens have NO value? $400 for stitches? Men with kittens don’t matter? $400 for stitches? Who ARE these heartless A-holes?

    Donations to their “humane” society should be sent elsewhere & they owe the man MORE than an apology, a kitten & grief counciling.

  13. I volunteered at the AZ Humane Society, as did my son. There were some wonderful volunteers and some wonderful employees. However, I found it is a very difficult organization to accept and implement new ideas and suggestions. Additionally, it seemed to me to be a very political organization. Volunteers were asked that their non-monetary donations were brand specific; such as insisting on Clorox Chlorine Bleach instead of generic brands, Science Diet as opposed store brand or even Friskies or Purina. Stacey Pearson’s response is predicable AZ Humane spin. They take credit card donations over the phone. I am appalled they can pay a publicist. They might want to consider an outside audit and implement many of those changes they have resisted.

    1. Makes sense to take credit card donations over the phone.

      If the donation is a fraud and rejected, they can easily kill a future pet to recover the cost.

      If the cost of Scruff’s treatment had been paid and the payment rejected, which pet would they have killed to recover the cost?

  14. This is so sad. I hope that poor man can stay sober although I would have a very difficult time around now. If they didn’t want payment over the phone, fine, I don’t understand, but fine. But why wouldn’t they be able to hold him for the poor man overnight since he said he could get them the money the next day. It doesn’t make any sense to me that the cat would need to be signed over. It sounds like the cat was obviously well taken care of and not abused. Or even ask him to take the cat home and come back the next day with the money. Heads would be rolling if that happened to one of my pets that I was trying to save. They should be so ashamed.

  15. Another option they don’t seem to have considered is to refer the owner to a vet clinic not associated with the shelter; there are bound to be several in the area that would have no problem accepting payment by phone. I totally support Christie Keith’s proposed law prohibiting the use of words like “shelter”, “humane”, etc. for facilities and organizations that kill animals who are not medically hopeless or so aggressive that no one can touch them. But I would also add the word “ethical” to that list.

    1. Yes Leslie – thank you for pointing out that common sense idea: Refer him to someone who will stitch up a kitty in exchange for credit card payment by phone (and I bet at less than $400).

  16. Why am I hearing more & more stories daily of mean spirited people in the “humane” business? It seems there are people who want to rule their corner of the planet, take over other’s rights to pets, set in stone standards for their “shelter,” refuse alternative saving methods, demand their way or the highway, all at the expence of animal’s lives!

    Too many deaths are caused by these A-holes simply because of some imagined plan of theirs that doesn’t work in all cirumstances. Those people will be weeded out, but until then too many deaths are on their hands. And I am disgusted by them.

    They know who they are. We all do.

  17. Mr. Dockery, I am so very, very sorry for your loss. You did not fsail Scruffy, you tried your best to get her treated and thought she would be. You were misled by Arizona “Humane” Society, which behaved in a manner beyond words. I hope that you stay with us and help fight for Scruffy’s Law so no one else ever suffers the pain you’re feeling.

  18. If the shelter is making such lite of the situation, then there is only one thing left to do: cancel all your donations to that shelter, set up a facebook page that prominently highlights their failing and their response to that failing. I can only say that I feel so deeply for that man’s loss and the guilt he must be feeling. Our support and love from Sydney.

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