By Elisa Black-Taylor
A Pickens County, South Carolina woman is grieving over the fate of her lost 17-year-old cat, who was euthanized at the shelter after the cat went missing.
Kelli Gandy, a Clemson resident, was worried about her cat when it went missing for the first time. Kelly had adopted the cat at a young age, and it would follow her around like a dog. In less than 24 hours, her cat was euthanized when it wound up at the shelter. Pickens County Animal Control said the cat was very sick and malnourished.
News media WSPA7 had to file a Freedom of Information Act request to learn why the cat was euthanized after trying for two weeks to talk to Pickens County Administrator J. Chappell Hurst, Jr. Hurst finally gave a statement to media a few days ago saying:
“That cat was in terrible shape. We put the cat down. I don’t apologize for that. We had to make that decision. We made it and we stand by it. That’s the end of it. I’m not worried about what the ordinance says. We have a right to make a decision of what’s in the best interest of an animal. And we made that decision.”
Here’s a video where news media spoke with everyone involved (as at June 1st 2015, the video is no longer available – sorry).
As it turns out, the Pickens County shelter may or may not have violated state law as pertaining to the hold on animals brought into the shelter. SC law states that all stray animals must be kept for a period of five days, after which time they may be legally euthanized or adopted out. Should a cat be wearing identification such as a collar, Animal Control is supposed to hold the cat for 10 days.
The cat was deaf, and old. Kelli says her cat wasn’t malnourished and had food available to her at all times.
WSPA7 stated in their report there is no exception to the five day hold, that all animals must be held as required by law. I did a bit of digging and found the shelter may have had the legal right to euthanize the cat. According to SC animal law, the law may not have been broken in this case. Under Article F (http://www.animallaw.info/articles/dduspetadoption.htm ) there’s a clause that read…..
“if an animal is extremely sick, believed to be experiencing extreme pain and suffering, or has a contagious disease, the shelter can kill the animal. Such determination of the animal’s condition needs to be made by a veterinarian or the shelter supervisor.”
Kelli has plans to meet with Administrator Hurst on August 12. She also plans to attend the next Pickens County council meeting later this month. In the meantime, Kelli and her family are heartbroken at the death of the cat they’ve had for so long now.
“We had no say whatsoever. We didn’t get to say goodbye. Nothing. Nothing. Now we don’t have her anymore,” Kelli told WSPA7.
Should a shelter have the right to euthanize a cat without informing the owner?
It’s scary to think a cat or dog turned into a shelter in poor condition is subject to euthanasia if that animal is determined to be sick or in pain. Shelter administrator’s apparently do have the right to euthanize. That still doesn’t make it the right thing to do. Don’t get me wrong. If an animal is in extreme pain and no owner can be located, that’s different.
It’s sad that Kelli never had the chance to say goodbye to her cat.
How does everyone else feel about this case? I’d suggest each of you check the laws in your state. I was totally unaware this is how SC deals with sick animals left at the shelters. This may be true in other states as well.