Brevard Co Oops-Kills Microchipped Pet

Scanning shelter pets for microchips after the staff has killed them is one of the worst ideas in the modern history of animal sheltering.  The excuse that the animal was too aggressive to be scanned while alive is unacceptable.  Likewise, scanning after a pre-kill sedative has been administered may be useless if the pet has been allowed to get sick during the shelter’s hold period, been denied treatment and is in a severely compromised state.  The pre-kill sedative may be the final nail in the coffin in those cases.

Clearly, the times to scan shelter pets for microchips are:

  • In the field, if being picked up by an ACO
  • During the impound process, if the animal has been brought to the facility by a member of the public.
  • Re-scanning is good practice and should be performed the day of impound, e.g. during the vet’s routine impound exam.
  • In rare cases when an animal can not be safely handled by a staff member while another scans for a chip, a sedative might be administered under the appropriate veterinary supervision at the time of impound.

Trained shelter staff equipped with appropriate tools such as cat handling gloves and dog leashes should be able to safely handle almost every pet in order to scan them.  When I worked in veterinary medicine many years ago, it was my job to wrangle the animals, who were sometimes in pain, fearful and/or aggressive, and prevent the vet from getting bitten or scratched.  I received no training.  And I had to hold the animals still for invasive procedures such as blood draws and wound treatment.  I would be whistling Dixie if all I had to do was hold animals while a scanner was waved over them.

On Tuesday, Brevard Co Animal Services in Florida picked up a microchipped cat and killed him.  Oops.  The cat’s owners had been looking for him for weeks.  The lost pet, called Max, was in rough shape when impounded, per pound director Bob Brown:

The cat was found less than a mile from his home, covered in scabies, a parasite that can lead to rapid weight loss and a painful rash.

Max was down from 30 pounds to just eight pounds. He was missing hair, had an eye infection and wounds all over his ears.

It does indeed sound like Max needed immediate vet care.  His owners, having gone to the effort of microchipping him for his own protection, should have been notified and given the opportunity to obtain vet care for their pet.  Instead, they got the oops-kill call from the pound.

Animal services said they scanned for a microchip, but missed it and felt it was only humane to euthanize the cat.

Brown said, “And unfortunately, after the cat was euthanized, then just as a precaution, we do one more sweep and we picked up the chip.”

FYI:  It’s not a PREcaution if you’re doing it after you’ve killed the animal.

Brown admits his agency made a mistake and is promising to do a better job of scanning animals for microchips. He also admits in the past 12 years, the same thing has happened three or four other times, but said part of the problem is the animals are injured and in pain and don’t want people touching them, scanning them for microchips.

So Max’s killing is not an isolated incident at Brevard Co, but part of a pattern of needless killings of owned pets.  And peddle your animals-are-bitey excuse someplace else.  Number one, it’s your job.  Number two, I notice you always come up with a way to kill the animal.  Use your ingenuity to figure out how to scan them first.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)


18 thoughts on “Brevard Co Oops-Kills Microchipped Pet

  1. Absolutely no reason to not scan that cat before, it is just an excuse for cat haters that work in these places. I am told where I live ferals are scanned,well if half of these people cannot handle a pet cat, how can they handle a feral (my feral is chipped). my heart hurts for these owners, it must stop now.

  2. Yeah, they probably don’t want to be killed, either, but you seem to manage that just fine. Do they bother going through reports of lost cats before they kill them or no?


      1. The only way scanning after killing is a “precaution” is if the shelter staff admits they don’t want to miss a chance to call an owner and announce they’ve killed their beloved pet. It’s no precaution for anything related to protecting the animal.

        On Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 10:42 AM, YesBiscuit!

  3. I have another issue with scanning pets… with so many different microchip companies.. most of the scanners do not even read/pick-up on ALL the chips. I had this happen to me twice. I had a rescue dog spayed and chipped before she was adopted, but before she could get on transport she had to have a health certificate. my vet scanned the dog, said there was no chip. I call the company, the company called the vet, It was confirmed the vets scanning device was out-dated… did he up-grade his scanner.. NO! Also my other dog was chipped years ago.. she was scanned and NO CHIP.. turns out the chip had migrated down her leg, almost to her elbow.. do you think a shelter is going to be looking for a chip that far away from the shoulder blade area.. I think the answer will be NO!

    1. The cat I got from my shelter at Christmas came in with information that he was chipped. I asked them to scan him just before I took him home (because I wanted to register the chip in my name) and they couldn’t find it. Two different staffers with two different scanners couldn’t find that chip. Took the cat to the vet who found it easily.

      Now I worry for all the animals that come into that shelter with chips that cannot be found by their scanners.

      And no, a chip is by no means a guarantee in any situation. So maybe they should do their damnedest to check lost listings, to post found animals, etc. Heck, I had a dog who was tattooed – you think they’re looking at the undercarriage of a dog to see if he’s got a tat? Wouldn’t matter if they were being diligent in the RTO department.

  4. Brevard County Shelter killed my cat a few years ago, Shanty was a beautiful healthy cat and she was micro-chipped.
    They never took the time to scanned her.
    She was at the shelter for four days befor they killed her.
    This is not the first time they do it!

  5. Arrgh. Too many stories like this. Youd think this would be common sense, but sadly too many places just dont think. I hope the owner sues the shelter or something.

  6. My cats are chipped and indoor cats. However you never know what might happen. If I got message telling ME:”OOPS WE KILLED YOUR CAT” I would certainly be VERY upset and push things further……….

  7. It’s just a bit late to scan the animal once it’s dead, but for whatever reason those chips can be hard to find.

    A couple of years ago my wife and I brought a dog home from the shelter where we volunteered to give the dog a break from the kennels over the holidays. The dog had been at the shelter for several weeks. While we had the dog, some friends of ours met her and loved her, and wanted to adopt her for their family. We had it all set up, but when the shelter went to microchip the dog they found the dog’s chip (even though they had already scanned the dog a couple of times upon intake).

    Apparently the dog belonged to a college age kid who hadn’t reported the dog as missing. The contact info on the chip went to his mother who paid for the dog’s supplies, and she wasn’t too happy to hear that the son had lost the dog and hadn’t even told her. So she took the dog back to her home. And our friends wound up adopting a different dog. So everybody wound up happy except for the college kid. And the dog was at the shelter for longer than she should have been.

  8. Wow. I used to live there. My cats are the single most precious thing in the world to me. Someone would lose their jobs for sure. Every ounce of energy I had in my body would be spent seeing to it.

Leave a Reply to mikkenCancel reply