Hernando Co ACO Leaves Kitten to Suffer in Hot Truck

On Friday, June 1, an ACO in Hernando Co Florida picked up an 8 week old kitten in a trap and loaded him onto his truck.  Upon returning to the pound, ACO Michael Steele parked his truck in the sun and went home for the weekend, leaving the kitten inside.

On Sunday, another ACO,  Linda Christian, happened to be passing by the vehicle and heard the kitten screaming.  She opened the box to find the kitten in distress.  Although he was severely dehydrated, he seemed to respond well to being given moist food and water.  ACO Christian later gave him a children’s electrolyte drink to help the kitten recover.

“I am just relieved I chanced to be at Animal Services today,” she wrote. “Otherwise, the outcome may have turned out differently.”

Yeah, whew, totally.

Disciplinary action was taken against Mr. Steele:

“The kitten has since responded well to re-hydration and being provided food,” Mike Nickerson, the county’s public safety director, wrote on the discipline form. “However, the fact that the kitten survived does not undo the fact that the action of accidentally leaving a cat inside a hot truck, without food or water, is a form of animal abuse.”

And for this animal abuse, Mr. Steele received one day off without pay and a warning:

Steele was put on notice that any additional suffering of animals because of his negligence would be grounds for additional disciplinary action and possible termination.

Gosh, that sounds seewious.  I hope they don’t break out the red pen!

As for the baby cat that we were all so relieved to hear was recovering, the pound kept him alive for a week and then killed him for being feral.  I wonder if Hernando Co has heard of this newfangled program that ordinary citizens are utilizing in their homes – without the benefit of training or a taxpayer funded salary – to tame feral kittens?  It’s called Patience and Petting.

Alternatively, if there is just no room in the budget for patience and petting at Hernando Co, they could have considered putting the kitten’s picture in the paper and asking if anyone wanted to adopt Baby Miracle Kitty.  I bet they’d have had lots of adopters applying.  Of course, that would mean somebody at the pound might have to do their job so perhaps that was not an option.

31 thoughts on “Hernando Co ACO Leaves Kitten to Suffer in Hot Truck

  1. There would have been a lot of folks who would gladly have given that poor kitten a home. What the hell is wrong with people?

  2. That negligent ACO should have been immediately fired! So heartless to kill a kitten who survived such a terrible ordeal. Given kindness, time, patience and space most all animals respond positively. Its no wonder animals are afraid of humans who often have harmful intentions in mind.

    1. Susanne – it’s horrible to have to euthanize ANY kitten…this kitten is really no different than the hundreds of others that we all impound into our Animal Control Facilities everyday. I totally agree that given time nearly ALL animals will respond and can become healthy and happy pets. BUT at Animal Control in the United States is not about that. Not about time. It’s about SPACE and BUDGET. If people want us to keep animals longer, care for them longer, etc. – then the laws have to change. CALL AND WRITE your County Commissioners and your State Legislators. It starts and ends there! Karen Josephson, Director, Montgomery County Animal Control Clarksville, Tennessee

  3. Very sad indeed. I agree that a story of the MIRACLE KITTY would’ve saved it;s life. SADLY – human egoes and self importance lead humans to respond in droves to adopting a “famous” animal. One that has been on the news – on that will get their name in the paper – one that they can themselves become “famous” for. EVERYONE knows that every animal at EVERY Animal Control facility is at risk of euthanasia – yet people ONLY respond in droves for a “famous animal.” As Director of a large Animal Control Department in Tennessee – I see this everyday. That’s why I spend my nights and weekends working media and social media and emails etc. for our animals…because citizens do NOT come in droves and adopt unless there has been something horrible like this happen. Why not? Perhaps you can help us solve this puzzle!

    1. Hint: People coming into the shelter “in droves” wanting to adopt is a good thing, not something to be tsked at.

      The truth is most people don’t know that healthy, friendly animals are being killed at shelters every day. Just the opposite in fact – many people believe animal shelters work hard to find homes for every animal in their care. They believe shelters actually shelter.

    2. Perhaps it isn’t the fact that it is a “famous animal,” and it has nothing to do with their “human egos and self-importance.” Perhaps it is simply the fact that people learn about an animal’s plight through it being publicized, where they wouldn’t even know about it otherwise. When people learn about the animal, they want to help.

  4. Mr. Steele used the excuse that he could not determine if the kitten was feral. After the torture/abuse this kitten experienced, Mr. Steele ensured this kitten would be classified as feral and killed. He deserved a harsher punishment and the kitten deserved a chance to be adopted.

  5. Sickening. If an *individual* had done this, they would be likely be jailed (depending on the city), heavily fined, and smeared all over the media. Double standard for individuals and ACO’s????

  6. Why is it so hard to check the truck before leaving? Shouldn’t that be mandatory? Of course, I doubt I would even put a 8 week KITTEN, IN A CAGE in the back of the truck in the first place. But I think of the animals, this guy was already planning his weekend.

    I am soo disgusted that they put this baby to sleep.

  7. I’m not sure I would even classify an 8-week old kitten as capable of being feral. It hasn’t been alive long enough to develop a dislike/distrust for humans, just alive long enough to be wary of them.

    1. I agree Jessica. This kitten certainly had reason to be wary of people but I wonder how much work anyone at the pound invested in trying to help him get over that.

      1. I would imagine you are right, they probably didn’t give the poor thing a second look. As was stated below, “Feral’ is just another catch-all code word for “we need an excuse to kill this kitten.” I rescued 2 feral kitties that were a bit over a year old a few months ago. While they are still VERY wary of us, there has been a lot of progress. If it can be done at that age or older, there is absolutely no reason it can’t be done with an 8 week old baby kitty. They obviously had no intentions of saving this kitten. I really don’t understand why they nursed it back to health first. That was cruel and disgusting. And makes me very sad. :-(

  8. An 8 week old kitten is FERAL? Are you KIDDING ME? I mean, I’ve read stories of people taming feral ADULT cats, so I don’t think ferals are such a lost cause in the first place, but I have never heard of a feral KITTEN that couldn’t be tamed with just the tiniest bit of TLC, and this wasn’t a half-grown cat, this was a LITTLE KITTEN. What a freaking disgrace.

    1. “Feral” is just another catch-all code word for “we need an excuse to kill this kitten.”

  9. Are you serious? A kitten feral? Give it a chance. What stupid and lazy people. I foster animals and this just pisses me off. Why bother to keep it alive for a week. All it needed was some love and attention and it would have been fine. I have a cat he was a barn cat but she is now a very loving cat. Time and patience. If you don’t have that then find the kitten a home. Heartless!!!!

  10. I am just sick and tired of stupids-ignorants-and the resultant killing.

    So the forever put your money where your mouth is kind of person- here are some thoughts.
    What would it take/cost to put together a professional lobby team to go from community to community and get them turned around?
    This is what (aghast) PeTA has done in various communities.
    Especially in some of our rural areas where there may be only a couple of rescues and no leadership from AC.

    1. You can’t mean that you would want peta involved in any kind of animal care . . . they only know how to kill!

  11. Good to know the shelter administration is on the case. Clearly, they have their priorities in order. They gave a tap on the wrist to the man who almost killed the kitten . . . then finished what he had started, and blamed the victim.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

  12. You are GOOD. Very well said. If they knew they were going to kill it in a week, why bother to nurse it back to health? Talk about twisted priorities. As Karen F. said, all they did was finish what he started – it was about the method used, not the killing. No wonder he only got a tap on the wrist. Sick, sick, sick.

  13. My sister rescued a feral kitten at a McDonald’s when she was traveling, tried to catch the other one but couldn’t. The kitten is now an elderly cat doing great!

    There is a Facebook page for Hernando County Animal Control’s Friends. There are lots of dogs on the kill list including a cute friendly neutered older Jack Russell/Parson RussellTerrier but of course listed as a Rat Terrier.

  14. To say the least, I am GLAD the ACO jerk was censured and that his boss acknowledged that just because the kitten survived, that fact didn’t ‘undo’ the animal cruelty the ACO was guilty of.

  15. For everyone that is disgusted by the kitten being out down, please encorage your friends that LIVE in FLORIDA to donate and or volunteer to trap, neuter, return programs or for no-kill shelters.
    Since its always warm in Florida, cats never go out of season and Florida is overwhelmed by the number of cats that need homes.
    Look up Undercats4Life, they are in south Florida and have a fb page. They would love people to help them by sharing the kitties that need homes and are at risk of being put to sleep.

  16. Just awful, all the way around. Poor kitten, never stood a chance. I know nothing about cats and even I thought there was no way that an 8-week old kitten could be feral!

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