Philly Pound Oops-Kills Microchipped Lost Dog Whose Owner Filled Out Lost Dog Report

When Cailin Mulvihill’s 15 year old microchipped chihuahua named Rhonda accidentally wandered out of her yard, she immediately began searching for her.  She put up flyers around the neighborhood and went to the Philadelphia Animal Care & Control Team where she filled out a lost dog report.  One day later, a Good Samaritan saw Ms. Mulvihill’s flyer and called her with good news:  Rhonda had been found just a block from home and taken to the pound.  Ms. Mulvihill immediately went to reclaim her pet but the pound had killed her upon intake.  Oops.

The devastated woman asked for an explanation from ACCT’s staff, who initially told her they had scanned Rhonda’s microchip but it didn’t work, Mulvihill explained.

Ms. Mulvihill didn’t buy it. She drove Rhonda’s body to her veterinarian, Dr. Judith Tamas, where the pet was scanned three times and the chip was located three times. (There is a video of Rhonda’s body being scanned at the link but her face is not shown.)  So the pound staff had lied.

“This is the worst kind of negligence [and] laziness,” Dr. Tamas said.

I was thinking that too but pound director Sue Cosby seems to be of the mind that the
rush to kill Rhonda was a kindness:

“I believe the expediency was based on concern for the condition of the dog. It was not callous,” says Cosby, “but policy was overlooked.”

Policy being to scan every animal for a microchip – twice. Staff failed to scan Rhonda even once in their rush to kindness her. Then they lied about it to the owner in an effort to cover up their wrongdoing. I never thought “expediency” could be made to sound so creepy.

Rhonda’s vet said her health was that of a typical elderly dog and that she suffered from sporadic seizures – something which could have been quickly clarified by the pound staff had they done their jobs and gotten the owner’s contact info off the chip. Or failing that, checked their own lost dog reports to find the owner’s info. Or you know – kill, lie, whatever.

After admitting the error, the ACCT put the staff member responsible for the euthanization on unpaid leave while the agency decides what steps to take next, Cosby said.

Maybe a roundtable discussion on expediency and the value of life? Just a suggestion.

The director is refusing to release the name of the employee. But we should just take her word that there is someone on unpaid leave and the pound is taking this seriously, I guess.

Meanwhile Ms. Mulvihill grieves for the loss of her family member and gave the local NBC affiliate a message for her beloved pet:

“I love you Rhonda and you are perfect in every way.”

We have tragically seen callous pound workers fail to protect the lost pets in their care and kill them instead of returning them to their owners countless times. Often, they blame the owners for failing to microchip their pets. Except when they kill chipped pets like Rhonda, in which case – uh, lie.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

9 thoughts on “Philly Pound Oops-Kills Microchipped Lost Dog Whose Owner Filled Out Lost Dog Report

  1. Sadly this is par for the course, lie and misplace blame until the storm blows over, then give the suspended employee glowing reviews and probably consider him or her for a promotion, and since the employee is willing to take shortcuts to improve efficiency , like killing without waiting, that employee can be considered for management,
    What would be justice would be an animal loving attorney who could take this case on pro bono and a sympathetic reporter who could get this story on the news Then the fear of getting caught would make them do their job the way they are supposed to,

  2. RIP old girl
    I hope the owner does not let this drop. I’m kind of surprised they let the owner take the body, too. Oops killings, on purpose killings, whatever you call it – it’s wrong, so wrong.

    1. Just having a guess: It didn’t occur to them the owner would put any actual effort into getting justice for her pet. After all, it was “just a dog”…

  3. Which brings up the question – how many other owned and wanted pets did they “kindness” to immediate death?

    And now the owner get to be haunted by the knowledge that strangers made her dog afraid, alone, and dead.

    But hey, someone’s probably on unpaid leave, right?

  4. I am shocked by this story. Sue Cosby spoke at the national No Kill conference in DC a few years ago. I was at the seminar in which she spoke, with Bonnie Brown, director of the No Kill Nevada Humane Society, about programs & services to increase life saving in shelters/pounds. I don’t understand how she would not have DRILLED into her employee’s heads, all of the alternatives to try before killing. (I also don’t understand why there aren’t more checks and balance such as having more than one person having to sign off before the ultimate cruel act of killing a healthy pet).

    And in this case, those alternatives wouldn’t have been much work i.e. scanning for a microchip and/or looking at your own lost dog reports. I am really sad to read this about a facility that Sue runs. I am sad and disgusted to read about most of the kill shelters that you write about, but this one just seems worse since it seems like a No Kill director or proponent has gone completely in the wrong direction.

  5. as the pet mom for several elderly and chronically ill pets, this makes me nearly throw up. yes, they are less than perfect, yes some don’t look so good, yes, they have numerous medical and health problems – seen by and treated by their veterinarian!!! and are microchipped.

    My worst nightmare would be for one of these elderly babies to somehow get lost and fall into the hands of animal control.. (thankfully the county I live in has good animal control and a wonderful cat rescue, of which i volunteer at) but what if we move somewhere else in the future? must i keep them attached to my body 24/7 because they are elderly and don’t look “nice”?|

    and this brings up another gripe of mine, pound workers who have not training – who are not trained in the normal aging process, or to recognize signs of illness. and especially to not scan an animal? even the body of a deceased animal should be scanned – you know that thing called “let the owner know”, so they can have closure.

    One problem is that we are so far removed from life reality… in other words, the world is geared to the young and beautiful in human as well as animals, and we forget and kids are not taught and have little exposure to aging process. Things that are age related are often mistaken for cruelty (ie the thinness, or limping at examples) OR if a lost animal is without needed medicines, they may show signs of illness… I could go on, but I am making myself feel ill.

    I guess I expect too much from the tax dollars we pay! This story breaks my heart. (as I go hug my 14 year old, my 13 year old, and my 18 year old as well as my CH kitty and my blind kitty,,,,) its a frightening world indeed for pets…

  6. Unfortunately rahrahs for the best con artist speakers is alive and well in the capitalization for $$$ in the no-kill movement.
    If most of us really knew the truth behind the cons being played on us right now By the big players we would go “postal”.

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