I’m for no kill. I’m for rescue. But this is neither.
The SPCA Los Angeles conducted an investigation into the care of a cat named Sandy based upon a tip. Sandy lived in a warehouse rescue facility operated by Furrever Grateful Rescue (FGR) in Long Beach, CA. Medical records indicate FGR began taking Sandy to veterinarian Ryan James Whitney in September 2014. Sandy had a tumor on the side of his face. Over the next 6 months, Whitney performed multiple gruesome surgeries on Sandy, gouging away at his eye until it was finally gone as well as portions of his nose and mouth. The deeply invasive tumor continued to grow and Whitney continued to drain the cat’s face of massive infection in between the surgeries. Whitney never submitted any of the surgically removed tissue to a lab for testing. Sandy was never diagnosed or given any prognosis. He was unable to eat normally and was suffering tremendously. He wasted away.
In February 2015, FGR took Sandy to a different vet. The second vet saw the giant tumor consuming Sandy’s face, his emaciated frame and his inability to eat adequately and diagnosed him with end stage squamous cell carcinoma. The prognosis was grave as the cancer is untreatable. Combined with Sandy’s immense suffering and extremely poor quality of life, the vet recommended immediate euthanasia to end Sandy’s needless agony.
Instead of releasing Sandy from his suffering, FGR took him back to the warehouse and continued posting photos of him on Facebook, soliciting donations. The second vet, deeply disturbed by Sandy’s condition, contacted SPCA LA and the state veterinary board. The SPCA LA notified FGR that they needed to have Sandy euthanized immediately. FGR took Sandy back to Whitney for the euthanasia. An investigation was conducted:
In its investigation, spcaLA discovered that FGR had been using Sandy’s worsening condition for fundraising for Sandy on social media, a practice not uncommon, and meant to pull at the heart and purse strings of donors. “It is unclear why Whitney or Furrever Grateful Rescue allowed the miserable suffering of this animal,” said spcaLA President Madeline Bernstein. “Whatever their intentions, whether motivated by naiveté or greed, this kind of cruelty is beyond words. No living being should ever suffer like that.”
The California Veterinary Medical Board revoked Whitney’s license so he can’t harm any more animals under the guise of “medical care” in the state.
FGR however, may face no legal consequences for their part in Sandy’s extended suffering:
Because the rescue is within the letter of the law and “provided medical care,” there are no animal cruelty charges pending against FGR at this time, however the Attorney General is looking into whether they are compliant with annual nonprofit regulations.
Get them on that, if they are in violation. Get them on any legal thing where they are found to be in violation. Kind of like sending Al Capone to prison for tax evasion – do what needs to be done within the law in order to stop these horrible people. How many other animals are in that warehouse of horrors right now? Are they too receiving “medical care”?
There are photos of Sandy at this link but the reason I am posting it here on its own is because readers need to be warned: these photos are upsetting. I didn’t make it past the first few myself so I can’t say specifically how many or how awful they are as a whole but knowing how Sandy suffered and that he was used in these photos as a fundraising prop for a so-called rescue, it’s almost too much to bear. Click with caution.
Animals advocates work with a lot of rescues, many of which are known only via social media. It feels natural to assume that the people saving animals from pet killing facilities are the good guys. Usually, they are. Let this serve as a reminder that there are evil people in all walks of life. They are a tiny minority, thankfully. But it is on us to perform our due diligence when donating or otherwise supporting animal groups. That can be tricky, especially when faced with certain death for an animal at a pound.
It’s completely unacceptable that our public animal shelters put us in this position. We need our government shelters to be safe havens for pets. That is not at all the case in far too many facilities across the country. Which leaves animal advocates in constant crisis mode, forever scrambling to find someone, anyone with an open space for a pet we are desperate to save. No animal advocate wants a shelter pet killed. No animal advocate wants what happened to Sandy to happen to any sentient being. These should not be the choices we face.
Shelter reform, now.