21 Year Old Cat Illegally Impounded and Killed by Animal Control in CT

Wallingford, CT – Scott and Kim Palmer got their cat Zima from a neighbor 2 years ago when Zima was 19 years old. They converted an insulated shed in their yard for Zima, putting in several beds, a heater, and installing a window so Zima could enjoy the sunshine. The cat house was accessible via a covered kitty door.

Kim Palmer arrived home on November 12 to find Zima was missing. She began searching the neighborhood and went to Pent Road Animal Control. She was told at the pound that Zima had been impounded and killed due to possible rabies. Ms. Palmer said that Zima had been vaccinated and couldn’t possibly have been rabid. She went home to get her husband and they both returned to the pound, only to find the door locked. They have never received any reasonable explanation for why Zima was impounded and killed.

Connecticut’s animal laws can be read here. The statutes require cats to be vaccinated for rabies, which Zima reportedly was. And there are very narrow parameters which allow an ACO to impound a cat:

§ 22-332d. Impoundment and disposition of certain cats. Authority to spay or neuter unclaimed cat

(a) Any animal control officer for a municipality which has adopted an ordinance under subsection (b) of section 22-339d may take into custody any cat found to be damaging property other than property of its owner or keeper or causing an unsanitary, dangerous or unreasonably offensive condition unless such cat can be identified as under the care of its owner or a registered keeper of feral cats. The officer shall impound such cat at the pound serving the town where the cat is taken unless, in the opinion of a licensed veterinarian, the cat is so injured or diseased that it should be destroyed immediately, in which case the municipal animal control officer of such town may cause the cat to be mercifully killed by a licensed veterinarian or disposed of as the State Veterinarian may direct. The municipal animal control officer shall immediately notify the owner or keeper of any cat so taken, if known, of its impoundment. If the owner or keeper of any such cat is unknown, the officer shall immediately tag or employ such other suitable means of identification of the cat as may be approved by the Chief Animal Control Officer and shall promptly cause a description of such cat to be published once in the lost and found column of a newspaper having a circulation in such town.

Cats who are not deemed medically hopeless and suffering by a veterinarian must be held at the pound so their owners can reclaim them. And that’s if the cat was causing property damage – otherwise, it seems that an ACO has no authority to impound a cat. It appears that the Pent Road pound may have violated state laws by impounding and killing Zima. When the local paper reached out to the assistant ACO for comment on the case, she had nothing to say.

There is a provision in the state laws for owners who have had their pets taken by ACOs to complain:

§ 22-335. Removal of municipal animal control officer. Complaint against municipal animal control officer

Any municipal animal control officer may be removed by the authority which appointed him or by the commissioner, and a successor may be appointed by such authority or commissioner. Any owner of a dog or cat aggrieved by the taking of such dog or cat by a municipal animal control officer may make complaint to the appointing authority of such municipal animal control officer or to the commissioner; and if, upon investigation of the complaint, the authority or the commissioner finds that the municipal animal control officer took the dog or cat otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, or abused or cruelly treated the dog or cat, the authority or the commissioner may remove the officer and appoint his successor.

I hope the Palmers file a complaint. How many other owned pets has the Pent Road pound impounded and immediately killed? How many owners have given up hope after finding the facility’s doors locked and/or being met with the staff’s refusal to provide explanations as to what happened to their pets?  Where are the records for Zima and all the other pets killed at this facility indicating a vet determined them to be medically hopeless and suffering?

Cats are second class citizens in far too many so-called shelters in this country.  It’s past time for that to change.  Oh but nobody WANTS to kill animals, it’s all the irresponsible public’s fault, spay-neuter would solve everything and [insert your favorite myth here].

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

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27 Comments

  1. Jacque OConnor

     /  November 19, 2014

    How do we take action on these things?  It should be shouted out and costly to fools and society. Jacqueline O’Connor POB 2552Sierra Vista, AZ 85636(520) 335-2499 The greatest menace to freedom is inert people. (Louis Brandeis, 1927)No one loves armed missionaries.  (Maximilien Robespierre)  If the good people don’t go into politics, the scoundrels surely will.       (Judge    Levi S. Udall).  Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power.  (Bradley Manning, 8/21/13)         

    Reply
  2. God almighty. Why do these places think that it’s okay to just take people’s pets and kill them?

    I guess because they’ve gotten away with it for so long…

    Well, no damn more!

    Reply
  3. Too many cat haters, who think cats are a nuisance merely by existing. And too many of them are in animal control. I hope the Palmers pursue this.

    Reply
  4. janipurr

     /  November 19, 2014

    Some good news for cats here: https://peerj.com/articles/646/
    Access to the study is free and permission has been given to cite the information as long as credit is given.
    Disclosure: I know Karen Johnson personally and sat with her on the Santa Clara County Animal Care Committee for several years before I moved to SoCal. She is a non-scientist, but a remarkable person. It was her efforts in the 90s that resulted in completing the first County-wide study about cats and cat ownership, revealing that 86-92% of owned cats are already altered. It was that study that got the “serious” scientists interested, and she has since worked on further studies with researchers at UC Davis.

    Reply
  5. Wallingford ACO

     /  November 19, 2014

    Very unfortunately, your blog post is grossly misinformed and based on nothing but untruths.

    The facts of this case are as follows:

    The cat was found in critical condition on the side of the street. Two good samaritans stopped to assist the cat and bring it to the shelter. The cat was immediately brought by an ACO to a veterinarian. The veterinarian determined that the cat was indeed suffering, and it was agreed that euthanasia was the most humane option for this animal.

    Because two citizens handled this cat, whose vaccination status was unknown, it was subsequently decided that the cat should be tested for rabies, for the safety of those persons. Mrs. Palmer was informed of exactly what happened and why upon her arrival to the shelter. Understandably, she was in a very emotional state which made it extraordinarily difficult to communicate with her.

    Mrs. Palmer called the shelter shortly after leaving, and was again informed about what happened. She requested that she be allowed to retrieve her cat’s remains. She was told that the cat’s remains were unavailable due to the rabies testing, which is performed at a state laboratory. She expressed that her husband was going to show up at the shelter regardless, and was told that the shelter was no longer open. The shelter closes at 5:00pm, and it was past that time. Shortly after that conversation, Mr. Palmer arrived at the shelter, pounding on the doors and windows, extremely irate. The police were called by shelter staff in an effort to diffuse the situation.

    Since the incident occurred, the Palmers have been given the answers which they claim to still be seeking from multiple town departments and a CT State Animal Control Officer.

    Our department was instructed by the town attorney’s office not to comment to the media until the Palmers had received our report. We followed those instructions.

    Our facility is by no means an heartless, inhumane kill facility. The small handful of animals we euthanize annually are ONLY due to severe health or aggression issues. Every effort is made in the best interest of the animals in our care, ALWAYS. It is never an easy task for us to make grave decisions, though sometimes it is our only option. This case was one of those times.

    Though we are deeply sorry for the loss of the Palmer’s cat, the officer who handled this case did so appropriately and legally. As such, we would like for you to delete any blatant misinformation.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Karen F

     /  November 20, 2014

    The town has investigated itself and found it is blameless. What a surprise.

    http://www.myrecordjournal.com/news/latestnews/6208864-129/report-explains-decision-to-euthanize-wallingford-familys-cat.html

    In its extreme reasonableness, it allowed as how it probably will get a copy of its report to the grieving family.

    Reply
  7. Bobbie

     /  November 20, 2014

    I wonder if this was another case of some person delivering the cat..pretending to be the owner and requesting it be put down?Some neighbors are hell on earth to live next to and since they allowed this cat to be ab outside cat…well cared for but still not inside…some neighbors are offended by our critters showing up on their property..feel tey need to be as restricted as our dogs.Wouldn’t be the first person to have lost a cat to a neighbor’s pissy attitude

    Reply
  8. Wallingford ACO

     /  November 20, 2014

    If the blog author would authorize our posts, you would all know exactly what occurred. Sadly, she has chosen to ignore the truth.

    Reply
    • Your comments were approved immediately upon reading them, just a few minutes ago. Obviously it wasn’t fast enough for you but you can always get your money back on your way out if you are dissatisfied.
      Anyhoo, your anonymous version of events is posted here for anyone who cares to read it. My post was based on the original story at the Record Journal and the paper has not retracted it nor has it issued a correction. The follow up story has been linked here, twice. Seems fair enough.

      Reply
  9. And in the interest of full disclosure, I am sharing here another anonymous message, received via e-mail:

    Hello,

    This is a formal request to promptly remove or retract your libelous blog post.

    It’s very unfortunate that people are wiling to post such accusatory things without any evidence or factual basis whatsoever.
    Here is an update to the story:
    http://www.myrecordjournal.com/news/latestnews/6208864-129/report-explains-decision-to-euthanize-wallingford-familys-cat.html

    Thank you,
    Wallingford Animal Control


    Wallingford Animal Control
    5 Pent Rd | Wallingford CT 06492
    Ph: 203.294.2180 Fax: 203.294.2181

    This was one of two anonymous e-mails in my inbox, presumably sent by the same person, complaining that their comments were not promptly approved and talking about how swell the Wallingford pound is.

    Reply
  10. Seems to me it would be fairly easy to talk with the vets involved (Palmers and the ACs), those who helped the kitty (found by the side of the road?). I don’t understand why the ACO did not try to find the owners, though. An old girl who had multiple disabilities would not have gone far from home. Something really is not adding up here. I’ll be interested in how this pans out.

    Reply
  11. Wallingford ACO

     /  November 20, 2014

    Again, the cat was found in critical condition on the side of the road. She had no tags, no microchip, and was suffering beyond medical assistance.

    As the article states, the cat was geriatric, blind and deaf. Not difficult to believe that a cat who lived outdoors with these issues would end up getting herself into an awful situation.

    Reply
  12. Wallingford ACO

     /  November 20, 2014

    Considering that you were not involved in the situation in any way, shape, or form, you would have no idea as to how the situation was handled.

    Reply
    • Right, Anonymous. I only know what the newspaper printed. But you are too cowardly to put your name to your comments and emails while hurling accusations which undermines your credibility greatly. And since this is not your personal forum in which to wage your crusade, you can stop that now.

      Reply
  13. Okay, I’m curious about the possible rabies “exposure” of the two good Samaritans. Were they bitten? Or did they just handle the cat? If there are bite reports, please, let us know. Otherwise, I’m going to have to call bullshit on the rabies exposure thing.

    And how far from home was this cat found? Is it policy to NOT knock on doors if an injured animal is found near residences?

    Reply
    • Probably, just a whole lot easier to kill them. Less work and then it’s done and over with. Hoping, though, that it isn’t done and over with. Regardless of whether this old girl was found at the side of the road or taken from her yard, the way AC handled things is beyond horrible. If you don’t have compassion for the cat, then consider her family. A cat does not live that long without someone caring for her. And, I agree about the bite/rabies thing. Perhaps, just for the sake of argument, she was ready to be euthanized, AC handled things badly. They didn’t even try to find her family. GEEZ! And then to know that they couldn’t have her remains to bury was another punch in the gut.

      Don’t start in on her being an outdoor cat. I have an old girl who was a neighbor throw away at 14. She is now 15+ and had a heated, insulated room in my garage with windows, a heated bed, a cat tree (where she wisely surveys her kingdom from with this cold, snowy weather), toys to play with and a radio set to a classical station 24/7. She also has visits and playtime on a regular basis. She can come and go through a cat door operated by her microchip, so she is safe from other critters. She would love to come in, but she does not get along with other cats and there are “other cats” inside. A lot better than her formers who were going to give her away on Craigslist – for free. So,don’t use “outdoor cat” as an excuse for thinking no one cared or took care of her!

      Reply
      • Right, db! And given the fact that this woman was hysterical, I’m going to have to say that this cat MATTERED to her.

  14. Sorry oh so outraged killer (who is so confidant in your actions you refuse to name yourself). Your “internal investigation” isn’t worth the paper you wipe your rear with.

    The best you and your “vet” could come up with was “something hanging from his mouth”. Such medical expertise reflected there. And the cat bit no one, so “Rabies” wasn’t a risk for anyone who handled the cat. More like you didn’t want a different vet to be able to call BS on your actions.

    We ain’t buying what you’re selling.

    Reply
    • The thing hanging out the mouth – a tongue maybe? The cat may have been causing property damage with said tongue? While rabid, I guess.

      Reply
      • I thought that, too. This is the new version of dumb and dumber . . .

      • Bit of grass, most likely. Rabid grass.

      • Yikes, rabid grass is even worse than a tongue. I can see why they had to kill her. Damn them all.

  15. BeaBea

     /  November 21, 2014

    These animal killers remind me of terrorists. Thoughtless, cruel and inhumane and spew lies to justify their warped mentality and to cover their a$$e$. They know we know that they are lying about an indiscrimate killing. Having done tons of cat rescue and some dog rescue, I know what to do to take the extra step to save animals. That definitely was not done here. I once found a small dog on the street late at night and went door to door on the block looking for the owner. The owner was elderly, had two small dogs and did not know that particular dog was missing from her home because it ran out unnoticed. I could have taken the dog to the shelter the next day but I did not. I am not religious, but I hope there is a good afterlife where the animal killers will be on the outside looking in, forever.

    Reply
  16. Troy

     /  November 24, 2014

    So apparently you all think it would have been better that the ACO refused to accept the cat and told the bystanders to leave it on the side of the road since the law says if it isn’t causing damage they shouldn’t pick it up. Better the cat lay dying and suffering all alone? For all you know it was hit by a car, maybe it was just old age, who knows but if it was suffering, it was only humane to have put the kitty down. Who lets out an aged deaf, blind cat??? If someone lets their cat out and wants to know what happens to it, wouldn’t it be prudent to have the cat microchipped (I would imagine a cat would lose a tag). Don’t know how big Wallingford is but can’t imagine the ACO has time to go knocking on all the doors in the neighborhood while a cat lay dying in his/her van. I would imagine if the ACO told the people to leave it on the side of the road, we would be reading how horrible the ACO is for leaving a poor suffering cat to lay on the side of the road. So sick of people who were not involved thinking they know best. The rabies testing part I agree, unless the cat bit, I don’t understand the testing part but if the vet thought it should be done….. Personally as a dog owner, I believe the same rules should apply to cats. They should be kept on the owners property and if that means indoors, so be it. I find it extremely irresponsible to allow your animal to cat the neighborhood and can’t imagine someone worrying too much if you let it be near cars, other dogs, wildlife, etc unsupervised.

    Reply

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