Lying Idaho Shelter Kills, Lies, Blames and Lies

Bunny, as pictured on the KIVI website.

When Sheila Combs lost her family’s six year old Chihuahua/Boston Terrier, Bunny, on January 31, she immediately began looking for her.  Unable to find her beloved pet, she went the next day to the West Valley Humane Society in Caldwell. Bunny was not there so Ms. Combs filed an official missing pet report including an 8 X 10 photo and a detailed description of Bunny’s size, markings, wonky rear leg and three missing teeth. She was told that all missing pet reports are checked against new arrivals at the shelter. The family continued trying to find Bunny daily.  Although Ms. Combs never heard from the shelter, she visited again on February 9 to look for Bunny, just in case:

“They took me through all the rooms in the back where the dogs are in crates, and the new dogs that come in,” Combs said. “She wasn’t there.”

In fact, Bunny was there, having been picked up by AC on February 4:

West Valley Humane Society Executive Director Jonathan Perry says it’s unclear how Combs didn’t see Bunny in the lost and found area.
“As far as we know, it was always in the same kennel in the back, so it should’ve been seen,” Perry said.


A stranger who had seen Ms. Combs’s online posts about Bunny contacted her on February 11 to let her know Bunny’s photo was on the shelter’s website.  Ms. Combs immediately called the shelter, understandably frantic over her lost family member:

“I said, ‘Listen! You’ve got to listen! That dog, “Tanna” on your website is my dog, I made a report, it’s in your book. I’m coming, it’s my dog don’t adopt her!” Combs explained.
By the time Sheila made it to the shelter roughly 20 minutes later, it was too late.

The director told the Combs family Bunny had already been adopted and initially, he declined to contact the adopters. After being pressed by Bunny’s family, he did make a phone call to the adopters, because you know, he cares, but had to leave a message.


Turns out, those were all lies. The phone call? Fake.  The truth was that West Valley Humane had killed Bunny while the owner was on her way to reclaim her dog.


Perry says the shelter vet saw stroke or seizure-like symptoms several times in Bunny beginning on February 7, and decided on the eleventh it was best for the dog to be put down.

See, the killing was totally justified. The vet saw seizures. Or strokes. Or something else medical sounding that begins with S. It was such a righteous killing that the director was motivated to fabricate an adoption story and make a *winkety wink* phone call to The Land of Make Believe to show he cared.

The whole wad of oopses and lies surrounding Bunny’s killing is the owner’s fault though, obviously:

Bunny wasn’t microchipped and due to her sensitive skin, she wasn’t wearing a collar at the time – something the shelter’s executive director says could have prevented the whole mix up.
While he says they plan to make procedural improvements to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again, he recommends all pet owners keep a current photo of their pets, always keep a collar on, and be sure all tag and microchip information is current and regularly updated.

And more blame from Brenda Cameron, president of the shelter’s board of directors:

“We had no way to call and inform the family their dog was in the shelter,” Cameron said.

No way except for the lost pet report. Or telling the owner in person when she was there looking through the kennels. Twice. No OTHER ways.

We do everything we can to reunite that animal with the family. Microchips help. Anything that we can identify the animal with. The owners did supply a picture but Bunny was actually an older dog with grey hair so that issue could have made things more difficult for volunteers or staff,” Cameron explained.

bunny at west valley
Bunny with grey on her face, as pictured on the KIVI website.

Oh my stars. Bunny had some grey hairs on her face therefore: unrecognizable. If only there was some way shelter professionals might be able to know that dog faces sometimes grey with age and that if the breed, markings, size, missing teeth and wonky leg are all a match between the lost pet report and the newly impounded lost pet, it’s worth a phone call to the owner. But I guess that’s just pie in the sky.

Oh and thanks, shortened hold periods:

In previous years, families have had their pets adopted out because they missed the three day deadline to pick up their missing dog or cat from the shelter. Cameron said the deadline used to be five days for lost strays, but the decision was made to shorten that time frame.

“When I came in, the shelter was overpopulated,” Cameron said. “We needed a way to move the dogs out of the shelter.”

When animals are in shelters for an extended period of time it can cause the pet to have mental, emotional and health problems in the future, she said.

A pet might go mental if they hold him for an additional two days. Must be a nice place.  It’s touching how concerned they are about moving the merchandise the possibility of PTSD in their dogs’ future but it sort of seems like the definite condition of DEATH should trump those concerns.

The board fired the director after he went on television and embarrassed them.  And they posted an apology to Bunny’s family on Facebook.  So obviously they take the killing very seriously.  I mentioned the apology, right? On Facebook.

*boop boop beep* I am pushing the buttons on my pretend telephone to call the Mayor of Impudentville because you know, I care.

(Thanks Clarice and Jan for the links.)

9 thoughts on “Lying Idaho Shelter Kills, Lies, Blames and Lies

  1. This is a great post. I do hope the owners have a lawyer and pursue their legal options. The only thing that will get these authorities’ attention is to hit them hard in the wallet.

  2. West Valley Humane Society Executive Director Jonathan Perry – “As far as we know, it was always in the same kennel in the back, so it should’ve been seen,” Perry said.

    When someone refers to a dog as ‘it’ , especially someone tasked with caring for animals, I automatically don’t trust them

  3. Two things: 1) do you give lessons in biting sarcasm? 2) If you were a man I would totally hit on you just to bask in your snarky glory.

    And as always, my comment is “Assholes.”

  4. He was so sure they did nothing wrong, he lied about what they did to Bunny. If there was real medical concern, why lie?

    “As far as we know, ‘it’ was in the same kennel”? Oh where to start. He is referring to an animal he killed while the owner was on the way to get her “it”. That right there shows he doesn’t view the animals in his care (a huge misnomer) as living beings.

    So animals there are NEVER taken out for walks? They just sit in their cages 24/7 until they decide if they cam make a profit off of them or if they are too much work/need to die? And weren’t Bunny’s so called seizures happening in that time frame? So she was never examined by a vet until they convently need and excuse for killing her?

    Of course, when all of the lies are called out we have to blame the irresponsible owner/public. If only they didn’t expect us to do our jobs and save animals/reunite them with their families.

    And who in their right mind comes in and sees a hold time that isn’t long enough (owners just missing their pets) and thinks “I know what will help! Shortening it!” Because, so many animals are saved when we sell already owned ones rather than the ones who really need a home.

    Thank God this asshole was fired. Maybe they will hire someone who gives a damn about the animals next time. Because clearly they didn’t care about that when they hired this idiot.

  5. One of the well-meaning local rescue groups here used this story as an example of why it’s important to get your pet microchipped.

    Which is bullshit. I mean, microchipping is a good thing and I’m all for it, but not having a pet chipped is not a reason for a shelter to fail SO VERY BADLY ON EVERY FRIKKEN LEVEL.

    As others pointed out, the pronoun “it” when the dog’s gender is known is highly problematic and indicative of deeper issues.

    I have to question a vet who sees “seizure-like” activity and never thinks “epilepsy” or any other incredibly manageable condition. In fact, I question whether or not the vet saw anything and just made that shit up.

    I’m glad he’s fired. I wish others had been, too. That poor dog had a home and family, for God’s sake.

  6. Yeah an apology makes everything just fine.I don’t know even know what to say here.This kind of crap seems to be happening everywhere.You have people working at these places that have no business to be working with animals.These places need to be managed so much better.Disgusted.This family lost a member due to their negligent abusive behavior and I can’t imagine the heartbreak their going through.Sounds like another incompetent “shelter” that needs to be shut down and one that has empathy and actually cares for the animals to take its place.

  7. So in their frantic rush to kill dogs they would take the time to scan for a chip? I tend to doubt it somehow.
    Honestly I despair, too many people with out empathy. I try to believe the caring people outnumber the uncaring but some days that is hard.

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