Animal rescue could not find microchip and euthanized cat the next day

ARL cat

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

A cat was brought to the facilities of the Animal Rescue League of Berks County (ARL) by a neighbour of the cat’s owner. The cat was scanned at the front desk and scanned again but no microchip was found. Clearly the neighbor did not help the staff at the shelter in identifying whether the cat had an owner or not. The cat was vaccinated and processed in the usual way.

The cat played up and became aggressive which meant that the staff had difficulties caring for him/her. As they could not find a microchip and therefore, on the face of it, there was no owner the Interim Executive Director, Tom Hubric, made the difficult decision to euthanize the cat the day after the cat arrived at the shelter. The decision was in part prompted by the fact that the shelter was at capacity.

The cat’s owner turned up after the cat had been euthanized and informed the shelter that he/she was originally adopted from the shelter and was microchipped. A third scan of the deceased cat, as I understand it, found the microchip. Tom Hubric admitted the shelters error on Facebook which was sensible as it helped defuse the consequences of their mistake.

The microchip had moved (migrated) from the usual position and the staff scanning for it did not adapt to this possibility and missed it. Also, as mentioned, the cat was aggressive and the staff could not handle him and look after him properly. Of course aggression in a cat under these circumstances does not mean the cat is inherently aggressive. A longer wait before euthanizing might have helped resolve this hurdle.

In addition, as mentioned, the shelter was at capacity. Hubric said that “100% of our cat rooms are full, we have many cages with more than one cat, we have set up three additional large cages in our lobby….et cetera. The shelter does not have any more room or enough staff to care for additional cats and clearly this situation helped to prompt Mr Hubric to make the reluctant decision to euthanize the cat.

Comments on Facebook to his admission of the error are generally favorable because they understand that people do make mistakes especially under these very difficult conditions. However, one person made the point that the decision to euthanize was made quite quickly and normally there is a holding period perhaps of 72 hours or in some cases five days and in some states there is an obligatory holding period to allow the owner to retrieve their cat.

In addition, without wishing to be overly critical, staff scanning for microchips should be aware that it might have migrated (moved from the usual position) and therefore scanning should be flexible enough to cover that possibility. The shelter I think is going to train staff on how to scan animals for microchips to make certain that they are 100% sure that the animal is not microchipped. This policy change may include a third scan.

ARL will also consider promoting fostering to allow for expansion when they are at maximum capacity. And also ARL are considering selling up a meeting at the town hall in order to allow residents in the community to share their concerns and to respond to those concerns moving forward.

Comment: Mr Hubric is clearly a decent and sensible person. He did the best that he could under the circumstances. A mistake was made and perhaps the procedures under which he made a mistake were not robust enough to minimize the possibility of a mistake being made. The fact that he apologized and admitted the error I think is a very good thing and he should be commended for it. Also he should be commended for reflecting on what has happened and deciding how best to move forward.

Below is the note made by Mr Hubric on Facebook and the source of this post:




7 thoughts on “Animal rescue could not find microchip and euthanized cat the next day”

    • Public shelters are for Animal Control however they have to use reasonable care with any stray animal brought in. In this case they probably failed that legal test and the owners can sue in small claims and win they would most likely receive the value of their cat as personal property which would probably be the cost of adopting a new one.
      You can see that even though they did not use reasonable care they are well insulated because the majority of pet owners do not sue because they can’t afford it or are aware of low rate of recovery.
      If a valued family pet were to be destroyed under laws that at least assigned emotional value to a family pet they would have found that chip.

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      • So sad but true. Although this won’t help now, maybe if this story is shared enough, the employees/volunteers will scan the entire pet in the future.

        Not to mention that too many non-cat people work at shelters and assume fear is aggression. The workers need better training.

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  1. Pure BS on the part of the shelter. Staff are trained to check everywhere for migration.
    Our local shelter, gag, informed me that any cat acting feral would be euthanized. Never mind they are always schilling for a home for an aggressive dog that needs a loving family with a tall fence, no small children and no livestock. But an upset cat must be killed.

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  2. A) A shelter does not offer shelter if they kill for space. You are a temporary holding facility and I pray for animals in those sorts of centers.

    B) I’d have to move. The neighbor sounds like they didn’t like the cat. My neighbors know that I have cats. I know who has cats on my street. How do you not ask around?!

    C) Prayers for the cat and the family. If it happened to me, I’d have to be treated with medicine for severe depression. It would just about kill me and I’d feel like it was all my fault. What a terrible horrible thing.

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  3. Another question is – why did the person who found the cat brought it to the rescue instead of considering that it might belong to a neighbor? Was it the first time she or he saw this cat or not? Was it repeated? If the first time, why not wait and see if the cat comes back. If not the first time, why not ask around first? There are many people with indoor-outdoor cats, not all may have a collar, in some cases a collar can come of, and an indoor cat can escape.

    I think people bring cats to shelters need to consider that they may be signing cats’ death sentence, and it might be cat of someone in the neighborhood – either an indoor cat that escaped or an indoor/outdoor cat. It’s often quite easy to say from the cat’s conditions if it’s stray or owned. When my mother found a cat on our porch, she thought it might’ve been neighbor’s, talk to another neighbor who identified the cat as possibly belonging to another neighbor and kept him in her home in a carrier – couldn’t let the cat out as she had two other cats, same reason why my mother couldn’t take in the cat.
    When my friend found a friendly cat, she also didn’t rash to the shelter. She provided food, and planned to look for a home before winter. Another neighbor ended up adopting this cat.

    People shouldn’t rash bringing cats to shelters unless there is a danger e.g. because of cold weather or the cat looks ill. If it looks like a feral, one can call Alley Cat Allies. If it’s friendly, why no look through the “lost cat” ads first and ask neighbors?

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  4. One comment. Kill Shelters need to be permanently eradicated. If this had been a No Kill Shelter, this poor cat would still be alive today. Inhumane.

    Reply

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