Western Arizona Humane Society Oops-Kills Puppy While Owner Searches for Him at Shelter

Natalie Pruitt says her 8 month old puppy Thor was stolen from her vehicle on August 27.  She notified Animal Control and began searching for her pet.  The next day, she saw a post on Craigslist that described Thor so she called the woman who had placed the ad.  That person told her AC had picked up Thor.  Ms. Pruitt contacted AC again and received confirmation that Thor had been picked up and brought to the Western Arizona Humane Society. But workers at the Western Arizona HS denied that Thor was in the building:

Three times a day for a week Pruitt went to the Western Arizona Humane Society to see if they found the dog.

“The humane society kept telling me to go to the sheriff’s office and the sheriff’s office told me to talk to the humane society,” she said.

Ms. Pruitt also checked with other shelters in the area, none of whom had any record of impounding Thor.

On September 3, Ms. Pruitt again visited the Western Arizona HS, this time with sheriff’s deputies. Deputies found Thor’s record which showed the Western Arizona HS had killed him on August 28, less than 24 hours after impound and while the owner was searching for him at the shelter. Oops.

Thor should have been released to his owner who was at the shelter trying to find him. Failing that, the Western Arizona HS should have held him for at least the 3 day mandatory stray holding period. Instead, the Western Arizona HS killed the puppy.

“This is just so stupid,” said Pruitt. “They didn’t have to kill him. He was a good, healthy, loving dog.”

[Western Arizona Humane Society CEO Victoria] Cowper agrees, and while she makes no excuses for what happened to Thor, she did say the shelter is under great strain in Kingman, where it took in about 1,450 dogs in fiscal year 2012-2013 ending June 30. Of those, the owners of slightly more than 300 dogs were reunited with their pet.

The percentage of unclaimed dogs is higher in Kingman than in other communities in which the humane society operates, a fact Cowper said is due to too many dogs going without a collar or microchip, and dog owners who won’t bother looking for missing animals. She also said there is an abnormally high number of vicious dogs in the Kingman area.

It sounds like there is an abnormally high number of lame excuses in the Kingman area, specifically the area occupied by the Western Arizona Humane Society’s CEO. And attempting to redirect blame to “dog owners who won’t bother looking for missing animals” while explaining why a dog whose owner was at your shelter looking for him was killed – that’s just precious.

[Ms. Pruitt] said Cowper has been empathetic to the family, but other workers voiced no sympathy whatsoever.

Thor was a beloved family member and Ms. Pruitt’s autistic son had bonded with him. Ms. Pruitt has been trying to explain to him that Thor is not coming home but her son has been deeply affected by the loss – refusing to speak or participate in school.

Ms. Pruitt asked the Western Arizona Humane Society for a $5000 settlement to cover the $3000 she paid for her puppy and $2000 for the pain and suffering inflicted upon her family. The Western Arizona Humane Society consulted with its attorney and made a counter-offer: a shelter dog with a waived adoption fee. And the reassurance that the Western Arizona Humane Society has investigated itself in the matter, implemented better safeguards and staff has been retrained. Straight out of the Oops-Killing Handbook.

Ms. Pruitt intends to sue the Western Arizona Humane Society:

For Pruitt, it’s not all about the money.

“This is ridiculous,” she said. “It’s like somebody crashing into your car and their insurance company tries to settle by telling you to go to a junkyard and pick out a car. We don’t want another dog. We’ve been offered about a dozen dogs since this happened. Friends, strangers, so many people have offered us help, offered condolences and even purebreds. We’re not ready.”

You can’t replace a family member.  The Western Arizona Humane Society not only failed to do its job and shelter Thor in his time of need, they broke apart a family in the most violent and permanent way.  Shame on the Western Arizona Humane Society for offering the surviving injured party the minimum their attorney advised them they can get away with regarding the killing.

When the CEO learned of Ms. Pruitt’s intention to sue, she had this vomit-inducing response:

“That’s certainly her prerogative,” said Cowper. “This wasn’t done with malice. It was human error.”

Remember she’s talking about her shelter’s unlawful killing of a friendly, healthy puppy. In case you thought she was talking about a hub cap that got scratched at the factory.

“We made corrections and money isn’t going to replace the Pruitt family’s emotional connection with the dog.”

Duuuuuude. Seriously. Shut up right now.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

10 thoughts on “Western Arizona Humane Society Oops-Kills Puppy While Owner Searches for Him at Shelter

  1. See what I was talking about earlier with the OOPS killings of people’s beloved “family members”?? There are just WAY TOO MANY OOPS KILLINGS IN THESE POUNDS AND SHELTERS!! It’s called simply NOT PAYING ATTENTION OR CARING ABOUT WHAT YOU”RE DOING, PEOPLE!! WAKE THE HELL UP! It isn’t like these people didn’t come LOOKING for their DOG!! This is getting just about as bad as stupid COP killings of innocent animals! Sometimes I think they are both in the whole thing together! They all make me sick!! It’s just too much of a coincidence!!

  2. It always comes back to them circling the wagons to protect the organization- corporation- whatever. And the comment about the other employees attitudes and lack of “empathy” just goes to show how sick this shelter has become.
    And with all the other excuses about Kingman, I guess finding employees who give a shit is on that list. There needs to be some whoop ass going on!!

  3. So, the shelter in Kingman is under great strain? Taking in 1,450 dogs in one year? That’s peanuts compared to many shelters, who take in over 8,000 to 10,000 dogs alone, and one (in their own back yard) is saving over 90%. Perhaps they ought to take a little road trip to see how it’s done — and that includes Animal Control.

    Apparently, this shelter opened in 2009, and almost immediately went into the Animal Control contract business. I looked up what stats I could find and got some partial stats that seem to indicate that about 50% of dogs are killed, and some unknown number appear to die in care: http://shelterproject.naiaonline.org/shelter_data/shelter/2028/1/received

    If you want to get into the mind of this shelter, their FAQ says it all — a litany of excuses and blame of everyone but themselves for the poor work they do. Check it out: http://westernarizonahumane.org/faqs-open-admission-shelter/

    1. From the FAQs:

      Unfortunately, until there are enough homes for all the animals who are born each year, and until there are no longer any sick, injured, aggressive, or unpredictable animals, and sometimes healthy adoptable, euthanasia will still be a reality, a humane reality. It is this reality that is the responsibility of an open admission shelter.

      So open admission shelters who save every healthy/treatable animal in their care are either inhumane or not real?

      1. Hell yes, let’s pull out all the old tired excuses that don’t justify the killing, anyway.
        I’m so sorry for that poor puppy and his family. Puppies are easily adopted – locally, they are gone very quickly (as in adopted, not killed).
        SMH – just don’t understand what is so darn hard to understand about STOP.THE.KILLING

  4. I’m so damn tired of excuses and retraining which don’t amount to a damn thing! We need shelter reform now and people who care about doing a job right! Don’t they care about the enormous amount of pain inflicted on families? I say one strike and you’re out!!!

  5. Oh, it wasn’t done with malice? When it comes to the lives of animals, that degree of apathy and incompetence is practically and ethically indistinguishable from malice.

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