Lazy, Lying Kitten Killers at AL Pound Get Served

When a freshly bathed, neutered kitten called Porkchop accidentally got out the door of his owner’s apartment in January, he was found by an upstairs neighbor and taken to the Mobile Co pound in AL.  The pound killed the kitten within minutes of his arrival.  Now the owner has filed a lawsuit.

At issue is the pound’s failure to hold the cat for the mandatory five day stray holding period so that his owner could reclaim him.

The lawsuit names Mobile County and three employees, Andrew Stubbs, Carmelo Miranda and Donna Jones as defendants, claiming the employees violated a shelter policy placing a five-day hold on animals between the time they are received and when they are euthanized. There are a total of four counts including outrage, conversion, conspiracy and negligent supervision. Hughes is asking for a jury trial to consider compensatory and punitive damages.

“[The shelter] has a five-day stray hold policy for this very reason, if somebody lost a pet,” Barnard said. “It’s certainly not a 30-minute stray hold policy.”

Making a tragic situation worse, the pound staff attempted to cover up the unlawful killing when the owner came looking for her pet.  The staff eventually admitted they had killed Porkchop but later claimed he had been brought to the pound in a trap and was determined upon impound to be feral.

The owner’s attorney has obtained “a statement and pictures from the neighbor showing that the cat rode to the shelter in his lap and was acting like a normal, domesticated pet.”  The attorney contends that because Porkchop was admitted near the end of the day, the pound staff was too lazy to set up a cage for him so killed the pet instead.  Mobile Co is in the wrong here, in so many ways:

  • Killing healthy/treatable cats, whether tame or feral, is wrong.
  • Killing cats upon impound is wrong.
  • Evaluating cats’ behavior at time of impound is wrong.
  • Failing to hold a cat so the owner can find him is wrong.
  • Lying to the owner who is looking for her cat is wrong.
  • Fabricating a story about the cat being feral is wrong.

Anyone advocating for the removal of mandatory holding periods for stray cats lacking identification needs to remember Porkchop.  His owner was looking for him and wanted him back.  Had the staff at the Mobile Co pound done their jobs as required by law, Porkchop would be living at home today.  Presumably most AL shelters, though not Mobile Co obviously, abide by the law and hold unidentified stray cats so their owners can reclaim them.  If the stray holding period law were to be removed, there would be no legal protections in place to allow cats like Porkchop to be returned to their rightful owners.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

56 thoughts on “Lazy, Lying Kitten Killers at AL Pound Get Served

  1. And that’s a problem today in Medina County, too. They have (just in the last couple of weeks) instituted a stray hold (not mandated by law, just “shelter policy”) of three days on “friendly strays”. Any stray cat who freaks out in a room full of barking dogs (because that’s where the cats are held, too) or comes in a trap or who simply loses his mind in a shelter environment is deemed “feral” and goes straight into the gas chamber.

    How many wanted, owned cats ended up dead from this lack of stray hold time? We’ll never know.

    Brent, you suggest that we need a “no kill” hold time rather than stray hold. And…I would be ok with that IF there’s sufficient documentation (including a photo of such quality as to identify a cat) that the cat’s owner can track their pet down and know where that animal ended up and be able to reclaim the animal within a period that would constitute a normal stray hold time. I’m simply not confident in shelters like this one being competent (or willing) to properly maintain the documentation.

    1. I can’t imagine many rescue groups would be willing to sign up to perform stray holds at their own expense. Municipal shelters are compensated for this but asking private rescue groups to provide care and housing for strays during a mandated holding period would be yet another financial burden that I would guess most are unable to meet.

      1. I run a private rescue out of my home and most of the groups I work with that find these animals end up keeping them until they can find a home for them or their owner. We pay for them out of our pockets because of our love for the animals. We get no funds from individuals but every rescue that I know of YesBiscuit does provide care for them. We also provide the vaccinations, neutering, spaying, de-worming and de-fleaing of them out of our own pocket.

    2. The problem here is clearly shelter incompetence. And no matter what rules you put in place, without competence, there will be an inability to follow the rules regardless of what they are.

      Shirley, I agree that most rescues wouldn’t sign up for a hold time, but I do think putting animals up for adoption immediately would help many good shelters out so they can begin the marketing process sooner and get cats out (safely) faster. There may be rare occasions where a cat then gets adopted that has an owner looking for them….which will be bummer. But cases where cat owners with cats without identification come looking are the rarity in shelters — and at least the owner would know the cat is loved in another home. The bigger tragedy is the number that are getting killed in shelters….

      1. Pets are family. Thankfully, we don’t have to choose which is the bigger tragedy: cats being killed in shelters or families being torn apart. There are laws in place to prevent the latter from happening and I support keeping them. And I’m simultaneously working to eliminate the former. No one will ever convince me to choose one or the other.

      2. My cats don’t wear tags. They’re indoor cats (who don’t run at the doors), and I’ve had a bad experience with a cat getting her front leg repeatedly hung up in her collar. They are chipped, but that doesn’t mean the shelter will scan, the shelter will find the chip if they do, or that the shelter had a reader for that specific brand of chip.

        If one of my cats somehow got out, having them immediately adopted out before I could find them would be far more than just ‘a bummer.’ It would be absolutely devastating. Yes, knowing they were alive would be some comfort (though if the policy only helped reduce the killing, not eliminate it, I wouldn’t even know for sure.) But losing them for WHATEVER reason would emotionally shred me in ways I can’t even articulate.

        The entire idea behind shelter reform is that pets are family. Pets deserve to live, and they deserve homes where they are loved. Saying “oh, we adopted out your pets…sorry, that’s a bummer” ignores the strong bonds that people form with their animals. If those bonds are so easily ignored and dismissed, then why bother reforming shelters at all? Shelters and rescues should be setting the example of how people should think about animals. Killing them gives the message they’re disposal. Adopting out owned pets gives the message they’re interchangeable.

      3. The regularity with which owned cats are killed before the stray hold has, by any reasonable standard, even started, does rather argue against the idea that it would a “rare” event that owned cats whose owners wanted them would be adopted out in your scenario.

        And no, there is no reason that loving owners should lose their pets to new owners just because the shelters are so lazy and incompetent that they can’t manage to comply with a stray hold. We need to fix the shelters. If any of my pets get out and get picked up, I WANT THEM BACK.

      4. I’d like to know why so few cats are reunited with their families, and why dogs fare better. I’ve had too many people come to my door looking for their cats – everywhere I’ve lived – to believe it’s because no-one looks.

      5. Eucritta, a huge reason for it is that the majority of cats that come into shelters across the country don’t really have owners. While there are very few places where the idea of “free-roaming dogs” is a reality, it is the reality for cats virtually everywhere. Now add in that many people don’t put collars/microchips on cats (because they never go outdoors — well, until they get out one day) and you have a lot fewer people looking per cat than vice versa.

      6. Here in “the south” – or basically in warm climates or sheltered situations with food sources – cats can have 3 or 4 litters a year. As opposed to most stray dogs having 1 or 2 litters a year at the most. The numbers for cats are indeed 2 or 3 times higher than dogs. The impound numbers in shelters show it and therefore shelters use this as a reason to kill 3 times more cats than dogs. As if they even need a reason. They aren’t held to ANY standards in the great majority of counties. TNR is a proven program – yet many counties – like Montgomery County in Tennessee make caring for or “allowing” outdoor cats of any kind illegal. Humans created this population issue. WE – all humans – must step up and be the ones to manage and solve it. The longer shelters are allowed to “investigate themselves” and manage in a vacuum – the longer the high kill rates will continue.

      7. Brent wrote – “Eucritta, a huge reason for it is that the majority of cats that come into shelters across the country don’t really have owners.”

        I find this statement…curious. Because I think that the majority of stray PETS that come into shelters don’t have owners – at least, owners of a quality that will come looking for them to reclaim them.

        There is also a cultural difference with cats in that indoor/outdoor cats are known to “disappear” for a day or two at a time and the owner may not worry because Fluffy does that regularly and has always come back before. Whereas I think if most dogs go missing for a couple of days, it’s considered unusual. Especially if there’s a fenced yard involved. So a missing dog is more likely to be searched for sooner than a missing cat. In fact, I’ve seen people only get worried about their missing cat after a week has passed with no sighting. And we all know that a week in the shelter is very often a death sentence…

        Which is why networking cats is VITAL. A shelter MUST take a good, identifiable photo and put it up as soon as possible with complete information (when/where cat was found, etc.) and encourage locals to share the photo via social media and watch lost/found ads to see if a match can be made. I’d love to see shelters employ RTO-centric volunteers who simply take found stray photos and push them around social media, who comb through lost/found lists to try to make matches, who post found animals to area sites close to where they were found to try to get them seen.

        It MUST be assumed that every, single animal that comes in to the shelter as a stray has a home and an owner seeking them and to act accordingly. To do anything less is unconscionable.

      8. I agree with photos on every animal upon intake and posting to petfinder and/or a social Media Page immediately. There is a large group of citizens in and around Nashville, TN doing this literally every minute everyday. This includes animals posted on Craigslist and more. It is really amazing how many animals are reunited and found everyday through these efforts. Old school shelter Directors and County Officials don’t want to pay county employees at shelters to network animals. They don’t want to – and they dig their heels in when it comes up in discussions. MANY citizens don’t want their “tax money” spent this way – but it’s a very simple calculation in saving $$$ at this level. It’s cheaper to find them homes and return them to owners than it is to hold them and kill them. Period.

      9. There is a woman in Memphis who does this for lost pets in the area and she has had great success – way better than the pound’s although I don’t mean to take anything away from her by comparing her success rate to sludge.

      10. The great thing about an RTO-centric volunteer is that because the vast majority of the work is done online, the shelter can use people from ANYWHERE to do it. They don’t have to be local, they just need access to the relevant online lost/found sites and social media. People who have moved away from the area, but still have ties there, people who vacation there, people who just like the shelter for whatever reason can all do online volunteering to help get lost pets back to owners.

        You’ve all seen them – the “oh, if only I lived closer, I could help these babies” postings. Well, with this type of work, you don’t have to live closer. And you can still make a difference. So much better than playing fruit ninja in the wee hours when you can’t sleep – you’re volunteering at the shelter to help increase RTOs! Hell, you can volunteer at multiple shelters if you want!

      11. Okay. So what I’m getting from all this is, there’s no actual data on why the RTO rate for cats is so abysmal.

        In the meantime, I’ve run across articles ref’d on-line which mention that microchipping and collars w/ID can increase RTO for cats by orders of magnitude, which suggests to me that one problem might be whether cats are perceived as owned or not … especially given some comments above.

        Which … cripes. Many years ago, a cat of mine was lost during a move – she’d bolted out the door of the new place past my room-mate while I was picking crap up out of storage. I went through the neighborhood with a flashlight … asked to look under everyone’s porches and in their garages, that sort of thing … and the next day, my cat showed up at the back door crying. About a year later I was talking with a neighbor and he admitted he’d scooped her up out of the yard because he thought no-one owned her. He’d intended to keep her. Then I showed up, and he was too ashamed to just bring her to the door.

        I had nightmares for years over what could’ve happened to her, which wasn’t helped in the slightest by the local ACC having told me that if I was close to the zoo, she’d probably have been eaten. Evidently they felt this was something appropriate to say to a frantic owner.

        Now I guess I’m going to go look and see WTF Fruit Ninja is.

      12. Ah. From what I found, the Ninjas will only protect against fruit bears and hippos.

        “Oh no. The problem. The problem, Pansy! It’s started again! I must have fruit!”

  2. These idiots don’t need taking to court, they need to be taken out and tortured then shot right between the eyes!! and THAT’S to good for them! I hope they rot in hell, lose their jobs, get jail time, no food, no water, and solitary confinement for years!! They need to be put through hell while here on earth. USE them as a deterrent!! assholes! LAZY stupid assholes! I’m glad this lady is wanting a jury trial! She deserves it and so does the kitten they so horribly killed for no reason except for laziness! I’m just sick to my stomach!

  3. What I don’t understand is why the neighbor’s FIRST inclination was to take the kitten to the “shelter.” It’s practically a universally-known fact that pets are at *some* risk of euthanasia there (regardless of their “save/kill rate,” or whether they describe themselves as no-kill, etc. It seems rather unusual that the neighbor would have had no prior acquaintance with/knowledge of the kitten or who he belonged to; or even if not, wouldn’t it be more logical to knock on a few neighboring doors first and ask around? How long was the kitten missing?

    As for the shelter’s actions, they are totally indefensible. This story evoked an emotional reaction in me for a few reasons, not all of which I can mention her because they might be personally identifying. But I will say the picture of “Porkchop” reminds me very much of my 5-year-old rescued Manx, “Milo”. May those reprobates get exactly what they have coming to them for executing an innocent animal and depriving his owners of his companionship!!

    “…I hope they rot in hell, lose their jobs, get jail time, no food, no water, and solitary confinement for years!!…”

    And in that order, eh? ;)

    Another thing that puzzles me is why the majority of the comments on the original article are by a heartless, trolling ailurophobe, “Woodsman001” — not only which, but they have a large number of “up” votes. Someone ought to bring them DOWN.

    1. The owner was not at home when the kitten escaped so even if the neighbor had knocked on her door (which I don’t know), she would not have answered. From what I understand, the kitten was only lost for a matter of hours.

      Although people on this blog are mostly aware that shelters kill animals, I have run into an astonishing number of people IRL who believe shelters actually SHELTER animals and reserve euthanasia only for the medically hopeless and suffering. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that this person thought the local shelter would be the best place to reunite Porkchop with his owner. And ideally, it should have been.

      “Woodsman” is a cowardly internet troll who posts cat hating comments everywhere he can. (Long ago banned from this blog.)

      1. “Although people on this blog are mostly aware that shelters kill animals, I have run into an astonishing number of people IRL who believe shelters actually SHELTER animals and reserve euthanasia only for the medically hopeless and suffering. ”

        THIS. I think that those of us who KNOW what goes on at shelters are actually in the minority. People *believe* that shelters are safe places, or that they wouldn’t kill THIS cat because THIS cat is nice, or THIS dog has a collar, etc. When we all know that not only will they kill the nice cat, they’ll kill the dog with the pink nail polish, too.

        Shelters continue to function on that mistaken belief. They thrive on it. They ENCOURAGE it.

    2. Many, many people are convinced that shelters are forces for good. They may know the local shelters kills pets, but they’ve bought the line that “they don’t really WANT to.” That means they only kill when they NEED to, and surely they would need to kill a sweet little kitten who probably has an owner, right?

      And some people just don’t know what else to do. I once came across two labs running back and forth across the street. I took them home with me (and wasn’t THAT a fun ride!) and spent the next two hours knocking on doors and calling AC to ask if anyone had filed a report. Eventually I really needed to get to work and I didn’t have anywhere to put those dogs (no fenced yard, and I couldn’t leave them in my house unattended all day.) My choice was take them to the shelter or let them go.

      I think many people in that situation would have taken them to the shelter, and would absolutely believe they were doing a good deed. I let them go because I know our local shelter is incredibly high kill, and the dogs were very rowdy, which made me worry the shelter would see them as untrained and too high energy to be adoptable. But it wasn’t an easy choice by any stretch, and I still don’t know if I did the right thing.

      In another situation, I had a dog run into the side of my car. She was a very large mixed breed, and on closer examination was blind. Luckily at the time I was working for a vet clinic and I could bring her to work with me. The owner called around and eventually found her, and that was that. But if I hadn’t been working for a vet, I’m really not sure what I would have done…I would have probably had very little choice but to take her to the shelter, and I shudder to think of what would have happened to her.

  4. I guess to me the problem here is much bigger than the lack of hold time. In this case, the cat is dead because the shelter apparently has a policy to immediately kill all feral cats — which is a much bigger issue than the hold time here IMO.

    1. They shouldn’t judge “feral” and kill right away, I agree! My cat acts that way at the vet and doesn’t like people because she had 2 very bad experiences. She would be seen as feral but she’s not, she is super loving. Yes, they should still hold the cat no matter how it acts. You even ask vets and they say lots of cats act that way and are terrified and it is their survival instinct, it doesn’t mean they are feral. Besides, I know people who have rescued feral cats….they are not as hopeless as people like to presume. So sad :(

  5. There was another animal that was killed before the time was up at this shelter a while back.When a reporter asked the woman at the front desk how long the stray hold was,she did not know the answer. According to my shelter it is a seven day stray hold and that is state wide here in Alabama. I really hope she wins her lawsuit and sends a message to other shelters that we are not going to keep putting up with them thinking they are above the law.

    1. Yes the state statute is for seven days but AFAIK, Alabama is a home rule state and allows municipalities to determine their own holding periods if they desire. Mobile Co is apparently under a five day hold.

  6. Every county & municipal animal shelter needs a “Watchdog”… a person or a group of concerned citizens that will monitor the intakes and outcomes of the shelter.

    If any shelter refuses to make available these statistics & reports, the Freedom of Information Act is a handy tool in forcing them to comply.

    R.I.P. little kitty Porkchop

  7. I so hope that they get justice for this poor baby. What irritates me too though is the neighbor! Why are people so quick to take them to the shelter instead of asking their neighbors if they lost their pet??!! I would be furious if my neighbor ran straight to the pound with my baby rather than asking around to see if anyone lost one!! Yes, the pound definitely should have held it and they have no right to judge a cat on whether it is feral or not, mine acts feral around people but she’s not. They should hold ALL cats for so many days before doing anything….although I can’t wait until they are all no-kill shelters! However, the neighbor really should’ve done the responsible thing and asked his neighbors first, especially since he was in an apartment building and has neighbors all around him!!! I would make his life miserable after that I think.

    1. How do you know he didn’t ask around? If the owner wasn’t home and the neighbors didn’t know who he belonged to, then what was the finder supposed to do with him? If your home just isn’t set up for cats or if you have other animals who might not get along with the cat or if someone in your household is allergic to cats then you might not be able to use your home as a temporary shelter for your neighbor’s cat. That’s what the shelters are supposed to be for.

      1. Shelters – true shelters – are supposed to be for “SHELTERING” ya know, not killing.

  8. Tell me how could you look at that kitten and just kill it. How the hell do you sleep at night, how do you live with yourselves. Animals depend on us to take care of them and keep them safe from harm and what do you do you kill it…. Do you even have a heart or is this just the way you are with your life. There was someone who loved this tiny baby and you stole its life and him from the joys of living with his family that loved him.

  9. All lazy animal killers in the Earth , you are not alone. And you are really killers. God will give you all the penalties of all your criminalities. All the living beings are the creatures of God. You’re not the only one in the Earth.

    1. I agree!!! I hope they win! If I were judging that case I’d give the fuckers the death penalty! Hell, they gave it to the Kitten in minutes. The world won’t miss them! That’s what they thought when they murdered this kitten!

  10. I am thankful that Porkchop’s Mom filed suit. Thankful. Perhaps it will give the county government a wake up call when they have to spend their citizens’ tax money for a lawsuit that should never have had to happen. Wrongful death. Perhaps the citizens in Mobile Co. Alabama will stand up with her and contact their county representatives and take the horrendous practices of the shelter as a voting issue with them. I don’t know but I’m guessing that Mobile Co. doesn’t have a robust volunteer program or a friendly open door policy to citizens. They certainly had no problem banning SouthBark from saving animals or volunteering. As a new Director at two TN CTY shelters I took photos of every animal impounded and put them on PetFinder right away. YES we have a mandatory 3 day stray hold – and NO they were not adopted early! It simply gave so many people a way to see if there animal or an animal they knew had been impounded. MANY animals went right back home because we posted immediately. When the stray hold was up – I had a professional photographer (good friend!) take great photos and I wrote bios. Just this small step got animals back to their owners quickly.

  11. i hope they get what they deserve… in my eyes they are murderers to do something like that ’cause they r lazy… i really hope that justice will be served… if something like that would happen to my baby i would be devastated… good that we have a no killing law in Germany. The USA should really look into the same law for all over the states…

  12. Wow, that’s horrible. I would just lose it if one of my cats got out and that happened. I would sue too, they are violating their own laws and obviously don’t care about the animals finding homes. What an outrage.

  13. I’m so glad Porkchop’s owner is bringing suit. It’s what is needed – fighting back. But a word to the wise, crate (cage) train all your pets. It is not cruel to get them used to something that can (and probably will) happen to them.

  14. I try to introduce my cats to all the new neighbors when they move in and make sure they know the “girlies” are connected to me. They are out occasionally and KNOW to come home and we have practiced and practiced. I am frightened to high heavens that anyone would attempt to rescue my family just because of circumstances described above. Accidents will happen so I prefer they instinctually return to their home when alarmed.

  15. too sad to speak, and yet they are allowed to call themselves “shelters”–they kill with nary a thought to what it is they are doing, I feel sad to be on the earth with these bastards at Mobile County, Alabama AC–there is nothing they are incapable of

  16. I thought I read that several of the biggies I think including Maddies is calling for less holding times. The push seems to correspond with keeping a steady supply of animals available for the new mantra of saving them all from shelters. Nothing like insuring those cuties just get moved out to new homes- regardless of the pain and loss of families.

  17. For what it is worth, Mobile co.animal shelter/pound has a 7 day stray hold. Believe me, I have tried to pull sick animals before their hold is up and they would NOT release early. Southbark lawsuit, is still active and waiting on a court date in federal court.

  18. Oh I’m SO sorry! I have to tell you, here in Fremont County, (Canon City) do we understand this! We have VERY similar problems here & more; it is So very sad, & for this sweet, voiceless, defenseless kitten~~and for ALL of them, canine, felines, any animal at all…I am most sad when it comes to these beings. On Facebook our page is called, “Stop the Humane Society of Fremont County” if you want to visit, support, whatever! Again, I am so very sorry for the loss of this kitten at the beginning of its’ life. Bless it’s heart…. along with ALL the others…. Sincerely & with many thoughts of you, Debby

    1. Please get involved! Don’t accept this behavior! By not taking action, you’re allowing this unlawful, cruel behavior. You’re not alone! Find others who are willing to take action! You have to stop this action! Don’t just accept it!

  19. I hope beyond hope that this law suit is a wake up call to the govt. And citizens. Here in Tennessee there are laws that don’t allow citizens to sue the county govt. In many areas. And the courts here dismiss most all of the cases against the county govt. State and Fed. Courts are a separate situation.

  20. Our shelter in Cullman, Al doesn’t abide by the hold laws either. They will look you in the face and lie to you. They also feel that cats are disposable and are quick to put them down faster than a dog. They have cut their hours back to times when people are at work and not many people can come in to adopt an animal They have even closed down on the weekends when most people can come in to look for a pet. NOT a fan of this shelter.

    1. There need to be consequences for these heartless people! People must get involved to stop this action! Don’t accept it, they’re criminals breaking the law and there must be severe consequences! Please! Please get involved. You’re are the pets only hope!

  21. I’m beginning to believe that most people in Shelters are SOBs. They know they did wrong and then cover their asses by lying! Don’t they realize the heartbreak they create by their actions? I wonder if any of them have any pets; if they do, they should realize the sorrow they are causing! I have no sympathy for them and hope they’re all fired, all the way to top management! also, I hope that I hope that they are punished by the law! They can’t bring the cat back and their actions have brought devastating results to the owners!

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