On a December afternoon in 2012, a black cat named Stella went missing in owner Linda Laucks’ Jefferson City, Missouri neighborhood. Ms. Laucks contacted the Jefferson City pound the morning after Stella didn’t come home and asked the director if a black cat had been impounded. The director said no.
Ms. Laucks then sought out a neighbor who had put out a trap for a pair of feral cats she was trying to help. The neighbor told Ms. Laucks that one day earlier, Stella had been caught in the trap intended for the feral cats and when the ACO came to pick her up, the neighbor had advised that the cat was not feral, not one of the pair she was trying to help and looked like a pet who lived in the neighborhood. The ACO took Stella anyway.
Ms. Laucks called the pound back and confronted the person who answered the phone with the report from the neighbor. She knew her cat had been impounded and demanded she be allowed to pick her up.
“They put me on hold for about three to five minutes, and the girl came back on and said, ‘Well, we did have her, but we don’t have her anymore,’” Laucks said.
At the Jefferson City pound, which kills 56% of the cats in its care, Stella had been scanned for a microchip (which she didn’t have) then deemed feral and put into the gas chamber. All within 1/2 hour of impound.
[Ms. Laucks] said she went to claim Stella at the shelter, and the feline was unrecognizable to her.
“Foam was coming out of her mouth and her claws were protruded,” Laucks said. “It looked like her head was bent in towards her chest.”
Ms. Laucks is now committed to getting the pound’s feral cat policy, which appears to be stuff-any-unchipped-cat-into-the-gas-chamber-as-fast-as-you-can, changed.
Stella had a right to live and to be reclaimed by her owner. Feral cats too have the right to live and to be returned to their home, which is the community, after being neutered and vaccinated. And no animal, regardless of any shelter worker’s opinion on whether the animal is wild or a housepet, should be gassed to death. The Jefferson City Animal Shelter director and staff need to start doing their jobs to shelter animals.
(Thank you Clarice for the link.)