The failing Fort Bend Co pound in Texas has claimed another victim. Cat ID #A004477 was impounded as a stray on October 7, 2015. On that date, his records show he received a vaccine and his condition was listed as “normal”:
At some unknown point, the cat’s condition became abnormal. What is known is that on October 29, animal advocate Elizabeth Welch was at the Fort Bend Co facility pulling a litter of kittens for a rescue group when she noticed cat ID #A004477 was sick. She notified 2 staff members who were in the room that the cat had diarrhea and needed to be seen by a vet.
On November 2, volunteer Taylor Cook found the cat limp, gasping for air, his body and cage covered in diarrhea with kittens housed below him. She alerted staff to the cat’s condition and snapped this photo:
Staff killed the suffering cat, later named Gabriel by a volunteer, and listed his condition as “severe”.
Records from Fort Bend Co, obtained via FOIA request, show that after the initial vaccination at time of impound, the cat was never treated again. No observations were recorded at any time. No notation was ever made that he was sick nor did he receive any vet care. He appears to have suffered, nearly to death, for at least 4 days while staff cashed their paychecks.
When outraged animal advocates complained to the county about the needless suffering and death of Gabriel, they all received the same form letter in response. The letter is basically the county patting itself on the back for all its “achievements” at the pound and refers to “marked improvement in the live release rate”, “a veterinarian walk through twice weekly” and donations earmarked for vet care for sick animals. And:
In addition to the improvements noted above, the staff has implemented a new schedule of monitoring all cages and all animals by senior staff three times each day. This is in addition to the usual walk-throughs by staff as they clean and feed the animals. This increased vigilance will assist the staff in identifying illness or other issues that can be promptly dealt with either by shelter staff or the volunteer community through their donations to rescues or 501(c)3 organizations. As always, we also appreciate volunteers and other visitors pointing out concerns as they see them to staff at the shelter at the time of their visit.
I interpret this letter to indicate that senior staff failed to note Gabriel’s desperate condition 3 times a day for at least 4 days. That’s 12 fails right there. Staff failed to note Gabriel’s deterioration every day during feeding and cleaning. More fails. And it seems logical to speculate there would have been at least one vet walk-through during those 4 critical days where no notes were made about Gabriel dying in his cage. Another fail.
But the county appreciates the public “pointing out concerns as they see them to staff” – so they can do nothing, apparently. Well staff did manage one note in the records – to list Gabriel’s condition as “severe” at the time they killed him. Gotta keep that marked improvement in the live release rate. Remember: euthanasia to relieve suffering is a kindness and we can’t blame staff. They’re doing the best they can, we’re all on the same team, blah cetera. I wonder how many other kindnesses Fort Bend Co has doled out to pets whose conditions are listed as “severe”.
(Thank you Elizabeth and Taylor for information in this post.)