Natalie Pruitt says her 8 month old puppy Thor was stolen from her vehicle on August 27. She notified Animal Control and began searching for her pet. The next day, she saw a post on Craigslist that described Thor so she called the woman who had placed the ad. That person told her AC had picked up Thor. Ms. Pruitt contacted AC again and received confirmation that Thor had been picked up and brought to the Western Arizona Humane Society. But workers at the Western Arizona HS denied that Thor was in the building:
Three times a day for a week Pruitt went to the Western Arizona Humane Society to see if they found the dog.
“The humane society kept telling me to go to the sheriff’s office and the sheriff’s office told me to talk to the humane society,” she said.
Ms. Pruitt also checked with other shelters in the area, none of whom had any record of impounding Thor.
On September 3, Ms. Pruitt again visited the Western Arizona HS, this time with sheriff’s deputies. Deputies found Thor’s record which showed the Western Arizona HS had killed him on August 28, less than 24 hours after impound and while the owner was searching for him at the shelter. Oops.
Thor should have been released to his owner who was at the shelter trying to find him. Failing that, the Western Arizona HS should have held him for at least the 3 day mandatory stray holding period. Instead, the Western Arizona HS killed the puppy.
“This is just so stupid,” said Pruitt. “They didn’t have to kill him. He was a good, healthy, loving dog.”
[Western Arizona Humane Society CEO Victoria] Cowper agrees, and while she makes no excuses for what happened to Thor, she did say the shelter is under great strain in Kingman, where it took in about 1,450 dogs in fiscal year 2012-2013 ending June 30. Of those, the owners of slightly more than 300 dogs were reunited with their pet.
The percentage of unclaimed dogs is higher in Kingman than in other communities in which the humane society operates, a fact Cowper said is due to too many dogs going without a collar or microchip, and dog owners who won’t bother looking for missing animals. She also said there is an abnormally high number of vicious dogs in the Kingman area.
It sounds like there is an abnormally high number of lame excuses in the Kingman area, specifically the area occupied by the Western Arizona Humane Society’s CEO. And attempting to redirect blame to “dog owners who won’t bother looking for missing animals” while explaining why a dog whose owner was at your shelter looking for him was killed – that’s just precious.
[Ms. Pruitt] said Cowper has been empathetic to the family, but other workers voiced no sympathy whatsoever.
Thor was a beloved family member and Ms. Pruitt’s autistic son had bonded with him. Ms. Pruitt has been trying to explain to him that Thor is not coming home but her son has been deeply affected by the loss – refusing to speak or participate in school.
Ms. Pruitt asked the Western Arizona Humane Society for a $5000 settlement to cover the $3000 she paid for her puppy and $2000 for the pain and suffering inflicted upon her family. The Western Arizona Humane Society consulted with its attorney and made a counter-offer: a shelter dog with a waived adoption fee. And the reassurance that the Western Arizona Humane Society has investigated itself in the matter, implemented better safeguards and staff has been retrained. Straight out of the Oops-Killing Handbook.
Ms. Pruitt intends to sue the Western Arizona Humane Society:
For Pruitt, it’s not all about the money.
“This is ridiculous,” she said. “It’s like somebody crashing into your car and their insurance company tries to settle by telling you to go to a junkyard and pick out a car. We don’t want another dog. We’ve been offered about a dozen dogs since this happened. Friends, strangers, so many people have offered us help, offered condolences and even purebreds. We’re not ready.”
You can’t replace a family member. The Western Arizona Humane Society not only failed to do its job and shelter Thor in his time of need, they broke apart a family in the most violent and permanent way. Shame on the Western Arizona Humane Society for offering the surviving injured party the minimum their attorney advised them they can get away with regarding the killing.
When the CEO learned of Ms. Pruitt’s intention to sue, she had this vomit-inducing response:
“That’s certainly her prerogative,” said Cowper. “This wasn’t done with malice. It was human error.”
Remember she’s talking about her shelter’s unlawful killing of a friendly, healthy puppy. In case you thought she was talking about a hub cap that got scratched at the factory.
“We made corrections and money isn’t going to replace the Pruitt family’s emotional connection with the dog.”
Duuuuuude. Seriously. Shut up right now.
(Thank you Clarice for the links.)