Three years ago, Marie Luera and her family adopted littermate male kittens from the long troubled Odessa pound in Texas. She named them Binx and Mojo. They joined a third kitten at home called Prince. All three cats were neutered and vaccinated and lived as indoor/outdoor pets. At night, they slept in bed with the kids. When Binx and Prince didn’t come home late last week, Marie became concerned. Neither cat was microchipped and both had persistently removed the collars Marie had tried to keep on them.
The Odessa pound is closed on weekends but Marie checked the website which states:
Dogs and cats that are not wearing a current vaccination for rabies are held for three days.
Since she had last seen Binx and Prince on Wednesday night, she felt reassured that, had they been impounded by animal control, they would still be there on Monday. She went to the Odessa pound Monday morning as soon as the place opened. She and her husband walked through the facility but did not see either Binx or Prince so she asked the staff member at the counter about her pets. The staffer explained that the pound had been accepting a lot of cats lately from one man and that it was possible that man had brought in one or both of her pets. The staffer told Marie she would check “the dalmatian book” which Marie noted was a notebook with cartoon puppies from 101 Dalmatians on it, filled with red cards. Inside, the staffer located cards for cats matching the descriptions of Binx and Prince.
Binx had been trapped by a man living on Marie’s street and turned into the Odessa pound last Thursday at 10:03 a.m. He was killed at 11 a.m. for “aggression”. Prince had been trapped and turned in by the same man on Friday, also at 10:03 a.m. He too was killed at 11 a.m. for “aggression”.
Marie was devastated. She considers her pets to be family members and told me “they are not just animals”. She requested the cats’ records but the pound refused to provide them, telling her she’d have to file an official FOIA request, which she has since done. She also requested a copy of the pound’s policy regarding cat evaluations and staff training.
Marie says the pound manager told her the protocol for evaluating cats is for a staff member to attempt to touch the caged cat upon impound. If the cat hisses or swats, the cat is killed. It’s unclear to me whether either Binx or Prince was ever removed from the traps in which they were impounded or how the staff could have had the time or handling skills required to scan them for microchips in the 57 minutes each was allowed to live at the pound.
Marie’s children are 11, 9 and 7. She had to deliver the tragic news to them about Binx and Prince. She hopes that by speaking out publicly and demanding reform, she might prevent the same tragedy from happening to another family. She told me while struggling through tears:
I don’t want another mother to have to tell her kids that their family members are never coming home.
Marie says the Odessa pound offered to chip her surviving cat, Mojo for free. Marie declined because she didn’t want cat killers touching her only remaining cat. Instead, she took Mojo and the family dog to a facility of her choosing to be chipped on Tuesday.
Let’s be clear:
Evaluating feline behavior upon impound is useless, unless the facility is actively seeking an excuse to kill cats. It’s debatable whether cats can be reliably evaluated in a shelter environment at any time during a standard 3 – 5 day holding period but certainly at the time of impound (and after having been trapped) would have to be ruled out by anyone who cares about shelter animals. And regardless of the outcome of the evaluation, no healthy/treatable cat should ever be killed for behavior. Cats do not represent a threat to public safety based upon how much they fear humans or how much they love them.
Killing caged cats who hiss or swat is indicative of a shelter policy designed to give cat killers hard-ons.
Failing to hold cats for the designated period so their owners can reclaim them is inexcusable, regardless of whether a cat hisses. Just because organizations like HSUS and Maddie’s Fund are encouraging shelters to eliminate holding periods for cats lacking identification doesn’t make such action any less offensive. Pets are family. Cat owners deserve the same opportunity as all other pet owners to reclaim their lost family members from shelters.
Refusing to provide copies of records to owners of pets who were needlessly killed is outrageous. The technicalities of record requests can be sorted out later. That’s just evil people twisting the knife around, at best. Or maybe it’s people scrambling to falsify public records prior to release in an attempt to cover their asses, I don’t know. In fact, Texas state law requires shelter records to be kept on site and to be made “available for inspection at reasonable times”. I would suggest that during regular business hours while the owner of two lost pets your pound needlessly killed is standing there asking to see the records would qualify as a reasonable time.
“The dalmatian book” – seriously? Do you people even hear yourselves anymore?
How many more horrors must be revealed at the Odessa pound before the city demands meaningful reform?