When I initially looked over the kill logs from the Catoosa Co pound in GA, it appeared that GA law was being violated regarding the method of pet killing being performed there. The reader who initially contacted me about the pound requested some additional records and those documents seem to reveal violations of county law regarding mandatory hold period for impounded animals. Catoosa Co law states:
An animal that does not have any identification shall be confined at the shelter for a period of at least five days from the date of impoundment.
Any animal impounded, in violation of this chapter, that is found to be injured or diseased beyond humane recovery, and does not have any identification may be euthanized to prevent further suffering on the animal’s part.
The animal control department may dispose of any animals not claimed or redeemed by the owner, as provided for in this section, on the first day after the required impoundment period.
I interpret this to mean that any impounded stray pet in Catoosa Co must be held for at least 5 days unless he is determined (I assume by a veterinarian although that is not stated specifically) to be medically hopeless and suffering in which case he may be euthanized before the mandatory hold has expired.
In the case of cat #001976, he was impounded and killed on 12-1-11. The surrendering party clearly indicated on the form that he was not the owner of this cat. There are no notes to indicate that a vet – or anyone at all – examined this cat and found him to be medically hopeless and suffering. If in fact he was someone’s terrified pet or part of a feral cat colony, the owner or caretaker would never have been able to redeem him because Catoosa Co killed him upon intake. If he was unowned, it’s possible someone might have been interested in adopting him but Catoosa Co never offered him for adoption. Catoosa Co gave this cat no chance to live. Cat #002104 was impounded and killed under very similar circumstances – the surrendering party indicated he did not own the cat, there are no veterinary notes indicating any type of exam, and the cat was immediately killed.
Most of the other cats in this set of documents are listed as “feral” so presumably, although the surrendering parties failed to indicate ownership status, these cats were legally considered to be strays and should have been held for the mandatory 5 days under county law. Every cat listed was killed immediately upon intake, using multiple injections of Fatal Plus.
The dog documents reveal at least 1 case where a pet appears to have been killed before the mandatory hold period expired. Dog #002027 is marked as a stray with an impound date of 12-19-11 and a kill date of 12-21-11. There are no notes of a veterinary exam of any kind. Most of the dogs in this set of documents were killed with multiple injections of Fatal Plus.
As a follow-up to the previous post where it was noted that the kill logs appeared to indicate pets at Catoosa Co were not being killed humanely or in accordance with state law, I contacted Dr. Robin Downing, a CO veterinarian specializing in pain management, for her input on the issue of killing non-sedated pets with multiple injections of Fatal Plus administered IP, IV and/or IC. She responded to my questions regarding this practice as follows:
Fatal Plus is VERY caustic (alkaline pH) and so injecting it into the abdomen of a cat or dog is inhumane.
If it is going to be given IV at all, the appropriate euthanasia dose should just be given at that time… It is an ANAESTHESIA agent (pentobarbital sodium), NOT a sedative, although as an anaesthetic agent it DOES cause unconsciousness…
But again, if you’re already in the vein, the fatal dose should simply be given.
It is ONLY appropriate to perform an intra-cardiac puncture after DEEP sedation which provides ANALGESIA also…
And specifically on the subject of euthanizing pets whose veins are inaccessible for whatever reasons, Dr. Downing says:
It can be a very peaceful experience for the pet involved, but ONLY if it is performed using APPROPRIATE drugs in an APPROPRIATE fashion… And for us that means sedation using a medication called an “alpha-2 agonist” mixed with a narcotic… Unsure how a shelter can do this without the support of a veterinarian.
I am grateful to Dr. Downing for sharing her views on this subject. I know most of us are not vets and it is sometimes hard to make sense of practices which fall so far outside our experiences as pet owners. I hope Dr. Downing’s comments shed a little light on the subject.
After the first post on Catoosa Co, some readers contacted the Georgia Attorney General and the Georgia Department of Agriculture and asked them to investigate. At that time, the main concern was that pets were possibly being made to suffer while being needlessly killed. Now there appears to be an additional concern that the mandatory hold period is not being observed at Catoosa Co. I hope the authorities will investigate this as well.
Lastly, if you are a GA resident, please take action to help get the Georgia Animal Rescue Act (GARA) passed in your state. Remember that Catoosa Co initially surfaced on our radar because they killed a healthy puppy named Jackson whom a rescuer wanted to save. GARA would give pets like Jackson a legal right to live. The Catoosa Co pound must not only be held accountable for their past actions, they must reform their practices and be held to a higher standard such as would be provided under GARA. Pets in GA need these legal protections.