Lubbock Pound Oops-Kills Microchipped Pet After Turning Owner Away Twice

Rahzz, as shown on the WFSA website.

Rahzz, as shown on the WFSA website.

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.)

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22 Comments

  1. I’m sick and tired of these lazy people not doing their job! They need to investigate and get rid of the lazy ones! Don’t they realized what a pet means to a family? It’s devastating and they apparently don’t get it!

    Reply
  2. mikken

     /  June 27, 2014

    “Infected”, yes, that’s the word. Convenience killing becomes an infection in a place like this, tainting all in the building. It affects the mind and damages the soul.

    And now it’s torn apart yet another family. And forced a father to lie to his child. These are the consequences of kill sheltering.

    It is a betrayal to the community. And it must end.

    Reply
  3. Fire them all. They are all incompetent. They are all incredibly STUPID, too.

    Reply
  4. db

     /  June 27, 2014

    Why is it they can say, “oops, sorry” and everything will be okay? There is a family who loved their cat, who did all the right things, and now they have to deal with knowing that she was killed for no good reason. RIP Rahzz My condolences to the grieving family. I hope they will take this further – it never, never should have happened.

    Reply
  5. FixCharlotte

     /  June 27, 2014

    Geez, this one really got to me. You know that weird feeling you get in your chest just before you start to cry? It’s called heartbreak, it’s called killed emotions. (Yes, I cried) I would be SO F@cking mad at those people that I would not stop screaming until every last one of them were fired. It really sucks that “You Can’t Fix Stupid”.

    Run free Rhazz. You will not be forgotton.

    Reply
  6. Kill shelters often have another incentive. Selling the dead bodies to Class B dealers…

    Reply
    • mikken

       /  June 27, 2014

      They don’t need another incentive, really. They kill out of laziness. They kill because it’s easy. They kill because no one stops them.

      Reply
    • mary frances

       /  June 30, 2014

      @Pet Advocates (@petadvocatesnet)
      Kill shelters have another incentive…in my opinion they might sell live animals and function like Class B dealers themselves. @mikken – I think this is a huge incentive at least in my area – Tri-Cities Animal Control dba A2Z Animal Sheltering….Our A/C has had a contract since 2003 with Washington State University – Veterinary School of Medicine. (WSU-VSM)

      WSU-VSM also contracts with Tri-Cities – Kennewick, Pasco and Richland Washingtin
      Hermiston Oregon, Moses Lake, Washington, Walla Walla, Washington, Post Falls ID, Spokanimal, Spokane Washington, Clarkston, Tekoe, Humane Society Eastern Oregon/Pet Rescue, Grant County Animal Outreach, Blue Mountain Humane Society.

      Not sure of the numbers of dogs and cats or the status of the contracts – but I continue to request documents and materials.

      In my opinion death and killing of dogs and cats are big business.

      Reply
  7. Offering him a replacement cat is the height of insensitivity. The whole staff should have their asses fired.

    Reply
  8. How many animals did they kill because this one was using a cage when it could have been returned to its owner the first time. For goodness, make a copy of his driver’s license and tell him how much he owes for space, vetting, etc and give him his pet back. I bet the vet clinic was open too. If they want to be more thorough, ask him for his vet’s name and call the place and ask them about the cat. Maybe watch how the pet reacts to the owner.

    If he doesn’t pay it submit to wherever fines go. If the city can manage to send me a fine for parking in the wrong place or a speeding ticket, I’m positive the animal control too.

    They don’t impound your car for those violations and destroy it, they just send you the bill. I don’t see why that wouldn’t work for these situations. Just a thought…

    Reply
  9. Marquel

     /  June 28, 2014

    This is inexcusable. I know for a fact they could have given the man a citation that allows 30 days to get the animal its needed shots and sent the cat home with him. I had a lost puppy who got out the back gate the kids left open and had to get from the pound. She was just barely a year old so she needed to update her shots and that is exactly what they did. I did not have to wait for them to give her shots. I was able to take my puppy, and head right over to the vet, my vet that I trust, And the vets office just faxed over the shot record to the pound. If I did not get her shot, then I would have been charged a class c misdemeanor and a hefty fine. I am quite sure this man would have been more than happy to accommodate taking his loved one to get a booster shot and faxing that record over. The point is, they could have done this on his first visit, most certainly his second. There were obvious options that the people from the pound offer to some and not to others. I witnessed this firsthand. While they extended me this offer, I saw another person come in and find their small dog, who had the same issue, and they did not extend the offer to them, instead they told them they would have to wait over the weekend until the following Tuesday, when the vet would be in. In honesty, the only difference I saw between them and I is that I am a white woman and she was a Mexican lady. There was no reason I could see, logical or otherwise to hold her pet. AND my puppy as not microchipped! WE did get that done while we were there. They went out of their way to help me, and while I am thankful they did, I wonder very often if that lady was able to get her dog back before anything bad happened. The difference in how we were treated was inexcusable and when I mentioned to her to ask for the citation, they quickly said it was not available for her “circumstance.” I can’t see how her circumstance seemed any different than mine. She was there to pick up her lost family member, that she obviously loved and wanted and was willing to pay whatever fine, initially just thankful the dog was alive. So perhaps the answer here is to have standards that apply to everyone, not just let the “civil servants” hired there pick and choose who they like better to offer options to. Their priority should be to get these pets back to their owners as quickly as possible. After all, that saves pets lives, restores families, ensures a good relationship with the community, and even saves valuable funds for the shelter, as pets who go home quickly do not need to be fed or housed. Lets make the same rules for everyone and work towards sending pets home as a priority.

    Reply
  10. Marquel

     /  June 28, 2014

    And yes, this was from the exact same animal shelter in Lubbock, Texas. So no excuses for different cities, different rules.

    Reply
  11. Candice Harris

     /  June 28, 2014

    They did the exact same thing to me!!!
    My dog had dug under the fence, and had run off. She was microchipped!!! So I called the pound to ask if they had possibly picked her up, (they were extremely rude) so the next day I drove out there and sure enough she was there!! (Had been there for 2 days!) I asked why I wasn’t contacted, since she was microchipped, and they said they had tried calling!? Which is such a lie, I was constantly near my phone hoping someone would call from her microchip or the ads I had posted about her! I was furious! When I asked if I could pay to bail her out, they said only if you have paperwork from a vet showing she’s had her rabies vaccinations up to date. They rudely reminded me they were about to close and wouldn’t open until Tuesday?? (WHY are they closed on a Monday!?) I was even more furious. So I pated extra to have her shots done there, but then they said I needed to get her fixed before I could get her out!! (ARE YOU SERIOUS!?) Yes I understand as a responsible pet owner you need to get your animals fixed, but she had hust turned a year and I have never had problems with her getting out OR being around other dogs…so it wasn’t a priority right then and there. Anyways, I had to pay a crap load to grt her out after she had been in there for 4 days! I HATE the animal shelter. They are careless, rude, and out to get your money. They obviously aren’t animal lovers!!!! My prayers go out to Rhazz and his family.

    Reply
  12. Sadly, Texas has no respect for animals, pets or otherwise. It’s totally heartbreaking. I’m so very sorry.

    Reply
  13. I think that there is something much darker than laziness and incompetence at work here. It looks deliberate and sadistic to me. There are some people who work at kill “shelters” who enjoy killing, and a place like this provides them the cover they need to indulge in that with impunity. At Tompkins, in the bad old days, the employee who handed me my first litter of foster kittens was the very same one who later killed two of them, knowing that I wanted to take them back if they were in any danger of being killed. She was not disciplined and continued to kill animals that volunteers had offered to take. The shelter manager even described her as “euthanasia happy”, yet she was allowed to continue indulging in that behavior at will. Was this a unique situation? No. It is the inevitable product of this broken system.

    Reply
    • Valerie, so glad to see you on this blog. After reading your experiences at Tompkins, I was in tears and sick to my stomach. But so very thankful that you were one of the ones who made a difference there for so many animals. As to the subject of the kill-happy pound workers, are these pounds in essence enablers of sociopaths? I mean, they give them a place, legally albeit immorally, to carry out their urge (in their mind maybe it is a “need”) to kill?

      Reply
      • I think so.

      • I seen a talk from Phillip Lombardo about the essence of evil which mentions that power without oversight is part of a broken system covering the situation at Abu Ghraib (and his famous Stanford prison experiment). When I seen it, I immediately thought of how much it applies to the world of animal sheltering – http://www.ted.com/talks/philip_zimbardo_on_the_psychology_of_evil

      • That is very interesting, Victoria, and I think it is very applicable to sheltering. I think that the current “shelter” establishment, in addition to turning normal people bad, also provides a safe haven for those with personality disorders that fall under the dark triad to ply their trade. I think it actually attracts people like that, and unlike the situation at Abu Grahib, it has been this way for so long that such individuals have accumulated in the system.

  14. mary frances

     /  June 30, 2014

    I should also add I received these records 6/18/14 from WSU/VSM in Pullman, Washington.

    Also there is agreements with The Humane Society of Central Washington – Yakima, Washington
    Quincy Police Department – Quincy Animal Shelter, Quincy, Washington

    The Idaho Humane Society (Ada County and other regions in Idaho)

    The Humane Society for Seattle/King County – Seattle, Washington

    Washington State University – Veterinary School of Medicine calls it sourcing for animals for practice surgeries/research and they also harvest for body parts.

    I have received these documents via the public records request RCW 42.56

    wsu.pubrecords@wsu.edu
    Linda Nelson
    Public Records Coordinator

    Charlie Elmo Powell
    Public Information Officer
    College of Veterinary Medicine
    Washington State University
    Pullman, WA 99164-7010
    (509) 335-7073 any hour
    cell: (509) 595-2017 any hour
    http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu

    Dog colonies are kept in a place an infamous place known as the McCoy building and Charlie Elmo Powell is one of the gatekeepers.

    Also I have asked for the animals sent to Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health –
    Response has been the Allen School has no affiliation with animal control agency animals of any origin and does not conduct any activities with an such animals. (on the WSU campus)

    Paul G. Allen is the computer mogul.

    Reply
  15. Its crazy I would have sued them for illreputable damage and loss and suffering from a cat lover who cares!!

    Reply
  16. Dog Lover

     /  April 17, 2015

    That is very sad and I am sorry you lost your kitty.
    I am shocked at the amount of animals at the shelter that are up for adoption. About 1/2 of the available ‘adoptable’ kennels are empty. With a 66% kill rate for dogs and a 76% kill rate for cats, it seems they would be trying to get more adopted. The county and city should be enraged by these numbers.
    I also have been taken aback by the rudeness of the staff, they really do seem like they just don’t care. The shelter in Lubbock is a letdown to the animals they take in and to the public.

    Reply

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