Harford Co Humane Society Harasses Then Kills 18 Year Old Lost Pet

The Harford County Humane Society in MD kills a lot of the cats in its care – most of them actually:

[Humane Society’s board president, David] Fang said the shelter took in just over 3,000 cats in 2012. Of those, 581 were euthanized because they were feral, 637 were euthanized for medical reasons, 222 were put down because of their temperament, 65 were returned to owners and 876 were adopted. The remaining cats were either dead on arrival, given to rescue groups or put down because of lack of space or at the owners’ request.

On June 28 the Harford Co HS impounded a frightened elderly cat.  She had been found by an area resident who described her as friendly and assumed she was a lost pet.  He was right.  The cat, named Mistoffelees, had been an indoor pet for 18 years and lived in the neighborhood, unbeknownst to the man who found her.  She had been spayed and declawed.   Mistoffelees accidentally got outside when her owner, Robert Brooks, was out of town.

At the Harford Co HS, Mistoffelees was understandably scared.  She had spent 18 years living indoors and now found herself in a cage at an animal shelter.  Rather than leave her alone and give her some quiet time while searching lost pet reports and posting her information online so she could be reunited with her owner,  the staff immediately and repeatedly approached her in the cage.

Astonishingly, workers did not take a cue from the cat’s initial hisses and swats but instead began poking her with a fake hand on a stick.  In what will come as a surprise to no one with a brain, Mistoffelees didn’t respond well to that either.  So the Harford Co HS sedated her, scanned her for a microchip (which she did not have), failed to find her spay scar or note that she was declawed, deemed her feral and killed her.  All within one hour of impound.

For its part, the HS board blames the owner for not microchipping his cat and defends the staff as dedicated, hard working and blah.  There is a plan to discuss the facility’s holding policies.  The article states:

Harford County code does allow for immediate euthanasia when an animal is deemed violent or dangerous.

But the Harford Co HS website gives a rather different impression about how long owners have to find their lost pets:

Q: For how long do you keep animals?
A: HSHC meets State and County mandated holding periods for stray dogs and cats. These holding periods are designed so that pet owners have a reasonable amount of time to find lost pets. The stray hold periods are:10 days for dogs wearing a license, 4 days for dogs with no identification and 3 days for cats, excluding Sundays and holidays, Once the holding period is up the pet becomes the property of HSHC. HSHC then determines the best course of action, which often means making that pet available for adoption as soon as we have completed some basic medical screening, vaccinations, and whatever else the animal might need to fit this criteria.

Depending on the situation, HSHC might hold an animal longer than even our stray hold period or place them into foster care.

I don’t see anything about one hour in there.

Mr. Brooks is heartbroken.  Mistoffelees was a family member.  He has retained an attorney.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

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36 Comments

  1. mikken

     /  July 15, 2013

    I hope he sues their asses off. They were able to sedate her, why not examine her at the time? Can’t be that tough to figure out that a declawed cat isn’t FERAL, can it?

    Poor cat. I think about my elderly cats and how I made every extra effort to ensure their comfort towards the end of their lives. To abuse and kill a senior cat like this is an abomination.

    Reply
    • vicki

       /  July 18, 2013

      Agreed. When will theseso called shelter workers ever learn to properly assess cats.

      Reply
  2. ann

     /  July 15, 2013

    and Maryland with Alley cat rescue and alley cat allies so close . will try to post this to both their pages. what a disgusting cat hater man this is. I hope the owner sues and gets them all fired. wont bring back his kitty but may teach those in power a lesson. I worry every time i go away, mine are microchipped but one. and even if they are microchipped. who is to say the scan. cobb county ga just put down a woman’s cats who were both microchipped while she was in the UK and of course could not be gotton alhold of. people sometimes do go out of country.

    Reply
  3. I’m somewhat familiar with the situation in Harford County and there is lots of resistance from the management to allow any change. As example, Mr. Fang will refuse to communicate per e-mail. He rather likes to “talk to people on the phone”. This could be a personal preference from Mr. Fang but at the same time it is a smart move to not leave a paper trail. You know how it goes, if it isn’t written down it didn’t happen.

    Reply
    • Leokadia Worton

       /  July 15, 2013

      if it was me living there and talking to that sorry excuse of a man, Mr. Fang, I would make sure i have a small digital recorder in my pocket and record the whole conversation. I learned the hard way not to trust anyone.

      Reply
  4. According to my calculations that’s a 31.4% save rate for cats, so less than one of every three cats that come in alive come out alive. That’s pretty awful. When I worked there about a decade ago we had a 75% save rate for cats (98% for dogs). The cat save rate would have been higher had animal control been willing to embrace non-lethal feral cat programs we sought. Needless to say, HSHC is currently not very high achieving, and poor Mistofelees and her owner are the victims. This is inexcusable and heartbreaking.

    Reply
  5. db

     /  July 15, 2013

    It pains me to think of the last hours of this old cat’s life. I also hope the owner sues for all he can. Maybe this senior cat’s death can prevent it from happening to another.

    Why so quick to kill? Obviously, they know nothing about cats, period!

    Reply
    • Jacqueline Daly

       /  July 28, 2013

      I’m ashamed and horrified for this “shelter” because they don’t have sense enough to feel that way of their own accord! So sorry for the kitty’s person.:'(

      Reply
  6. I agree that the owner should sue! Wrongful death. I don’t care that it was “only” a cat as they like to say. These people are not in any mental state to be evaluating animals. They should all be fired!

    Reply
  7. this just makes me cry. why harass a new cat just brought in when you know nothing of her history? why harass at all? let her calm down and wait for an owner or your 3 days; this should be sent to the State Inspectors. Shame. Shame.

    Reply
  8. Reblogged this on Sherlockian's Blog and commented:
    Please be informed about the reality of “rescue” shelters. Please adopt your pet from a rescue shelter. Dogs and Cats in rescue shelters need us now more than ever.

    Reply
  9. Whitney Summers

     /  July 15, 2013

    The mission of the Humane Society is humanity and love not needless killing

    Reply
  10. Take their kids away, lock them in cages, and poke them with sticks. Then explain to them that junior is never coming home because he’s violent and dangerous. People like this teach me the true meaning of hate. Not a lesson I want to learn

    Reply
    • Pam

       /  July 16, 2013

      Disgusting. Lock them up and prod them. Then euthanize. Great way to get rid of feral humans

      Reply
  11. I HOPE HIS ATTORNEY WIN THE BATTLE! I’M TIRED OF LIES AND ABUSED ANIMALS. THEY NEED TO REALIZE ANIMALS BECOME MORE THAN PETS; THEY ARE FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS! WHY DON’T THEY GET IT?

    Reply
  12. David

     /  July 16, 2013

    No one can tell me these animal shelters don’t have employees who enjoy killing just like cops. My heart breaks for the family and the kitty !

    Reply
  13. Betty Brady

     /  July 16, 2013

    I hope he sue them into oblivion and wins! I would want to euthanize the human that killed my elderly family member. How stupid does one need to be not to be able to notice the animal was declawed and spayed?

    Reply
  14. Sue

     /  July 16, 2013

    There is a really hot spot in hell for people like this and I for one hope to stand and drink ice water in front of them off and on for eternity. Horrible, horrible people.

    Reply
  15. Yes sue them, they didn’t give the animal a chance killed in 1 hour, not enough time to decide anything especially as the cat not been out before and was terrified. Sick to death of hearing of animals abused, tossed aside like garbage, ill-treated, neglected and more on top of that shelters that are supposed to protect and help them kill them in a short time they have no chance.

    Was is it -just because there is a recession, animals are the ones that have to suffer, lack of money, jobs etc and its taken out on them. Our pets are family and should be treated equally, bless them all.

    Reply
  16. This is where pets as “property” work in one’s favor. Clearly a case can be made as for three days a cat is not considered the property of the shelter. So as horrific as this sounds, they destroyerd his property. Unfortunately, the value of an animal may simply be the “fair market value”. But there are other financial penalties possible and a chance at changing the practice of at least following the law. The 3 day hold. This will not mend mr. Brooks heart break. But it might save a future life. Hope this works out in favor of Mistoffeles being killed through negligence.

    Reply
  17. Kittypurr

     /  July 23, 2013

    Hey Hartford Co AC employees – you are obviously ignorant and are way overpaid for your skills. I am sure there is a trash pick up crew job where you can poke with a stick all day long.

    Don’t let them off the hook- sue them into oblivion.

    Reply
  18. Sandra Cathers

     /  July 24, 2013

    It seems to me that more and more animal shelters in this country are not being run or staffed by people that even like or care about animals. I feel so bad for this animal and it’s owner. I just had my senior cat pass away three months ago at the age of 14. I kept her comfortable and nursed her for three weeks. I fed her with a dropper and held her head so that she could get a drink of water. When she neared the end, my kids and I stayed with her, petted her, gave her kisses, and we were with her until she passed peacefully in her sleep. You deprived this owner of giving the same devotion and final moments to not just a pet, but a family member. To spend that many years loving and caring for a pet and to have that pet die while being in a strange and scary place, plus in the hands of uncaring people is unacceptable. If you don’t care about these animals, then please don’t work with them. There’s a job waiting for you at WalMart! Maybe it’s time to have all kill shelters in this country taken over and run by animal rights organizations. You people can be kicked out on your butts! At least we could sleep at night, knowing that if our pet gets lost and shows up at a shelter, they’ll be in the hands of someone who loves and respects them as much as we do.

    Reply
    • Tammy Knettel

       /  July 25, 2013

      I really try to save animals in my country home. I have 5 1/2 acres, I take in abused, mistreated, neglected, just all around unwanted animals. Mainly older ones. I do this all on my own. No funding! All for my love of dogs. I take in ALL big breed dogs, that once they grow up, and people have to buy bigger bags of dog food, they dump them like garbage. I pay for all the food, vet costs, (Yes, All are spayed and neutered, when I get them). I try my best! It breaks my heart to read or see an animal so scared like this poor cat, to be killed because of misunderstanding humans.

      Reply
    • SO totally agree! I can’t imagine the pain I’d be in if any of my babies received this treatment. One of them is a death row rescuee anyway. It’s time for a grass roots reform!

      Reply
  19. feebee

     /  July 25, 2013

    Terrible, so sad! But, noone seems to have noticed – declawing a cat? – also inhumane, cruel and shocking, As bad as docking tails and cropping ears on dogs. And illegal quite rightly here in the uk. Noone who loves an animal would amputate for their own vanity.

    Reply
  20. Desera Smith

     /  July 25, 2013

    That hurts my heart

    Reply
  21. Sue Spalding

     /  July 25, 2013

    What kind of idiots do they put in charge of and allow to work in these shelters. What type of reaction would one expect from a cat who is in unfamiliar surroundings for the first time in her life. If I were out of my environment and in strange surroundings I’d be scared and stressed. You cannot assess an animal’s true temperament under those conditions. Then to add insult to injury they aggravate the situation by taunting her causing further stress. This cat was simply doing what comes naturally, trying to survive what she perceived to be a threatening situation. Guess what in her case, she was right.

    This shelters numbers are horrific, there is no incentive to adopt out the animals received in but they sure must have a phenomenal incentive to kill and keep killing based upon the numbers noted at the beginning of this article.

    Microchip, microchip, microchip, had the owner microchipped this kitty may have had a chance….maybe not given the idiots working at this facility. This has to stop, animals are God’s creatures, they live, they breathe, they feel and they deserve to be treated with dignity, love, respect and compassion.

    A human that has no compassion for an animal is not capable of having compassion for anything. Enough said?

    Reply
  22. Kimberley

     /  July 25, 2013

    This is so very sad but a wake up call to ALL PET OWNERS! I constantly rescue strays and NOT ONE had a microchip OR collar. I’ve had/have pets so I know the care & sorrows of pet ownership. No cat should ever be an outdoor cat, ALL pets should be microchipped & dogs should ALWAYS have a proper collar. One that still tightly latches, isn’t torn, has an ID tag w/the owners current info, and is tight fitting ie. You can get 2 fingers in tightly, no more or it’s too loose! Money is tight for most of us but the little money spent on a chip (approx. $100) is well worth the safe return of your beloved family member!
    That shelter though should be ashamed! 1 hr?!?! It sounds like lazy employees who are just there for a job. I don’t agree that sticking a fake hand in the cage is torture (keep in mind they dont know the cat isn’t carrying a disease) but they are negligible for not looking at the cat while sedated, noting she was spayed/declawed, & holding her the 3 days. My cats are the most friendly cats ever but stick them in a cage at the vet & they are ready to take on anybody who isn’t me! So now imagine adding being lost outside (where you’ve never been before), possibly multiple humans trying to catch you, the one you let near for help turns you over to this stinky loud place and all you want is your dad. How “friendly” do you think this cat is gonna be?!?
    Local humane societies no doubt do A LOT & are no doubt full of all animals but especially cats. However more training in identifying feral from scared cats & looking @ each animal as a possible lost & frightened member of a family will do so much!

    Reply
  23. Becca

     /  July 26, 2013

    Did you know that many shelters SELL the bodys of the animals to rendering plants and sell it to make dog food. I bet this one is on its payroll.

    Reply
  24. Stephanie Weyrick

     /  July 26, 2013

    This just shows how the “local yokels” treat animals without doing any kind of investigation on this poor kitty. The people that work there are not trained on how to work with animals that are frightened and will be defensive because of survival instincts “kick in”. This shows how “backwards” this “podunky” town really is concerning life! I am too mad to say any more. This whole story and how so called humans treat animals make me sick.

    Reply
  25. Jerri Lanier

     /  July 30, 2013

    I know this story they do the same where i live I’ve seen them bring a cat in and put it right down and they didn’t even do it right they need to change the rules for all animals. If i had a way i would start a no kill shelter. I pray for all animals they are human to and they should be treated like us it hurts to see things like this I’m sorry to hear about the kitty being hurt. Sue the pants off of them

    Reply
  26. YA no there will be a judgement day for those who kill gods animals , they will pay for all those lifes they took and they need to remember that ! God says no where that we have the right to kill a human or animal! The sad part is all of the cats and dogs do belong to someone. a lot of people cant have pets in there apartments so they leave food out on the porch or deck for them.I have a friend who does that for strays , she takes them gets them spayed or neutered and lets them go. They come back when they are hungry. Thease shelters have no right killing animals, All they should be able to do is pick them up , spayed or neauter them and let them go . They have taken the right to kill in there own hands and one day they will answer to God for what they have done !!!!

    Reply
  27. Feebee, I had the same thought – but then thought that 18 years ago declawing wasn’t regarded in the same light as it is today and many ‘well-meaning’ owners even now have no idea of how cruel the procedure is. Given that she lived indoors for 18 years, I think she was most likely a very loved girl.

    Reply
  28. Barbara

     /  August 5, 2013

    This is obscene! This is not what a ‘shelter’ is for, it is to SHELTER and protect the animals! Shame on you for your cruelty!
    Check out The Oregon Cat Project in Portland if you want to know how a proper shelter is run, NO KILL!

    Reply
  29. kathy mccabe

     /  August 13, 2013

    Horrible…..idiot needs be fired….

    Reply

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