Saturday, April 15, 2006

Oops they did it again

My first experience with an SPCA was a great one, I was 11 and we came home from the Lahaska SPCA with the most wonderful dog, an Aussie Shepherd- Collie mix, in the world. I'd always been a sucker for animals, strays and rescues in particular, and the fact that SPCAs were there to help these animals was a gret comfort to me. My opinion of SPCAs started to shift when I picked up Dudley from the SPCA in Chester County, realized his problems were significantly worse than they'd told me and the folks there were not only unwilling to help me find out who the couple who'd returned him used as a trainer so I didn't have to start out from scratch with a new trainer, they refused to answer any of the vet's questions about him. My opinion of the organization kept going down when, a couple of years ago, I read about abusive treatment of animals at Chicago SPCAs and how the DelCo (PA) SPCA euthanized a cat whose owners had left multiple messages trying to locate their missing cat this past February. When SPCA workers realized they'd never cross checked the messages with the animals on site, the SPCA workers lied and said the animal was euthanized because she bit an employee and sent it's head to the state lab for testing. Two employees were fired and the DelCo SPCA vowed it would hold all strays 72 hours and cross check all messages to prevent a repeat incident.

A little over two months later, Margaret Reynard found out her beloved cat was euthanized after a 24 hour stay at the shelter:
On Wednesday, Reynard came to the shelter looking for Keecha, who had not been seen since Tuesday. She was told that all animals were held for 72 hours and to check back every day for the next three days.

The family came in three times on Thursday, only to be called that evening and told Keecha had been put down the day before.

SPCA records say the 8-year-old cat was killed because it was "feral."

The records do not have a manager's signature or the time and date of the euthanasia. The initials of at least four employees who checked messages and lost-and-found reports and looked for microchip identification appear in the records.

The last time stamp is 12:36 p.m., about two hours before Reynard visited the shelter.

"A really serious and unfortunate mistake was made at the shelter," SPCA board member Rick Beeman said yesterday. He said the new policy on euthanasia was not followed and that the shelter was conducting an investigation. "It shows we have a long way to go; it is not just a case of instituting new policy." [Inky]
Around the country, a multitude of people bust their hump trying to reconnect missing pets withe their owners and/or find a new home for animals in need. They give a search more than 24 hours and they do cross check messages so no animal is euthanized unnecessarily. The DelCo SPCA and any other organization that thinks euthanizing an animal before even trying to locate its owner or finding someone to foster or adopt it has lost their moral compass (to say the least).

In addition to highlighting the need to pay close attention to the actions and policies of shelters that euthanized animals, this incident highlights the need to microchip your pet. Both AVID and HOMEAGAIN manufacture implantable microchips that can be used to ID and return your missing pet to you. Dudley already had his AVID implanted when I adopted him, Dyna got her HOMEAGAIN when I took her to the vet on Thursday.

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