When Damon Hughes’ 6 year old microchipped cat named Rahzz went missing, he visited the Lubbock, TX pound to look for her. He found her sitting in a cage last Friday. No one from the pound had scanned her for a chip and notified him she was there. Missed opportunity number one.
It turns out, a neighbor had trapped Rahzz and turned her in to the pound. Mr. Hughes reassured his pet:
I looked down and told her, ‘Alright, sweetheart, I’ll be right back. I’ll come get you, I’ll be right back.'”
But when he told the pound staff he’d found his pet and wanted to take her home, workers refused, telling him he needed to bring in her vet records from home. Oh and the pound would be closed for the weekend so he had to wait until Monday. Missed opportunity number two.
Mr. Hughes returned for Rahzz on Monday but pound workers again turned him away, citing the need for a booster on the cat’s rabies vaccine. He was told to come back Tuesday and by then, the pound would have given Rahzz the vaccine. Missed opportunity number three.
That night, he and his family prepared for her homecoming, getting new cat food, a litter box and new bed.
When Mr. Hughes went back to the pound on Tuesday, he was forced to wait for an agonizing hour while staff searched for his pet. He feared the worst. And he was right.
After another hour, a supervisor told Mr. Hughes that despite Rahzz being microchipped and her records being marked as having an owner wanting to redeem her, staff had killed her after she was placed in a cage marked for killing during routine cleaning. Oops.
“There were three steps that they were supposed to follow,” Hughes said, “as far as making sure this pet doesn’t belong to anybody before we actually euthanize it, and none of that was done and he couldn’t give me an exact reason why it didn’t happen. He just pretty much told me that they dropped the ball.”
And straight out of the oops-kill playbook, the supervisor offered Mr. Hughes a free replacement cat, if he wanted one. Hey, a cat’s a cat, amirite?
The mandatory final chip scan that should have been done in the kill room prior to injection represents missed opportunity number four, for anyone keeping track.
Shelter supervisor Shawn Bird told a local reporter:
Something like this hasn’t happened in a very long time.
First off, once is one time too many. No credit for your 16 Days Without an Oops-Kill sign on the wall. Secondly, how do you know? It’s clear that in the case of Rahzz, no one was doing their jobs – not the intake staffer who didn’t scan for the chip and contact the owner, not the multiple staffers who turned the owner away, not the worker who put Rahzz into a cage marked for killing, and not the kill techs who also failed to scan her. So if no one at the Lubbock pound is doing their jobs, how do you know you aren’t killing owned pets every goddamn day of the week? You don’t know what you don’t know.
The Lubbock pound had 4 opportunities to return Rahzz to her family who wanted her. They couldn’t be bothered to put forth the minuscule amount of effort it would have taken for them to take any of these opportunities. Instead, they killed her.
Mr. Hughes says he made up a story for his child as to why Rahzz wasn’t coming him so he didn’t have to explain the horrors of a pet killing facility and its lazy staff to a 4 year old. He also says a city official called him after he went public with his story and told him there would be changes implemented at the pound. Unless those changes include an immediate directive to stop killing healthy/treatable animals – and I doubt they do – it won’t be enough. There is a culture of killing at the pound and it’s obviously infected the staff to the point where killing friendly pets is blasé.
The Lubbock pound staff had a man who had come to them to get his cat when they should have been the ones contacting him. He stood right in front of them and asked to take his family member home, twice, but they refused because of paperwork when they could have simply given him his pet and dealt with the rabies shot issue later. Obviously no one in the kill room at the Lubbock pound batted an eye when a healthy cat was placed in front of them for killing. They didn’t even bother performing the final scan for a chip because hey – living cat, dead cat – what’s the diff?
Fire all their lazy asses and get people in there willing to do their jobs, Lubbock. Anything less is unacceptable.
(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)