The Cache Humane Society in UT made news a few weeks ago regarding a Great Pyrenees puppy named Whitey. In June, Whitey had wandered onto a ranch belonging to Hans Peterson. He was emaciated and had been shot in the mouth. Mr. Peterson took him to the vet for care and Whitey had surgery on his badly wounded jaw. Mr. Peterson fed Whitey from a spoon during the recovery period. Although the dog’s jaw was permanently disfigured by the trauma, the vet determined he could still eat and drink and function normally. Everyone who met Whitey marveled at how friendly he was, including a horse vet who came to the ranch on September 9 and was amazed to see the incredible recovery Mr. Peterson had helped Whitey make.
On September 12, Mr. Peterson fed Whitey then left the ranch for a few hours. When he returned, Whitey was gone. He immediately called the local ACO and learned that Whitey had been picked up by a neighbor and taken to the Cache HS where he was immediately killed. The well intentioned neighbor, Shelly Hoppie, did not know Whitey had a home in the area although she assumed he had an owner since he was wearing a rabies tag:
Hoppie said she took the dog there with the belief they would care for him for a few days while they tracked down the owner.
“I am just sick to my stomach,” she said. “If had known, I would have taken him back home and found the owner myself.”
Hoppie said she remained at the Humane Society for about 45 minutes, and during that time, she was not aware of the staff attempting to trace the dog’s owner. She said Whitey was acting calm and very friendly, with no trace of pain in his demeanor.
The ACO and 2 vet techs at the Cache HS had visually assessed Whitey and determined he was in extreme pain for which immediate death was the only answer. No attempts were made to contact a vet to see if the pain the non-vets believed Whitey was in could be relieved by non-fatal means and no attempts were made to track down the owner via the rabies tag. Whitey was just immediately killed. Dr. Clay Robinson, the horse vet who had seen Whitey just a few days prior to the killing, told the local paper:
“Something is not quite right about this whole scenario,” Robinson said. “Clinically, that dog was as healthy as can be.”
The executive director of Cache HS, Brenda Smith, posted a statement in response to the news story on the shelter’s website. She has lots of blame to spread around in that statement, including:
[R]abies tags are not a form of identification for animals.
Based upon the condition Whitey was in when he came to the shelter, the animal control officer made this decision and requested our staff to assist him with the procedure. The decision was made by animal control, who at that point had responsibility for the animal.
The staff at the Cache Humane Society are professionals who are trained to give vaccines, implant microchips, and yes, perform euthansias. As I am sure most people understand, this is not something that our staff enjoys doing. However, it is a reality when animals are injured or there are more animals then there are homes and funding for. I am thankful every day for our staff who continually and professionally work with a small budget, believing that their actions make a difference for animals that would not have a place to go if our shelter did not exist. This is why we advocate that everyone get their animals spayed and neutered and make sure they are wearing proper identification.
Ms. Smith also boasted to the media that the Cache HS has a 97% save rate for dogs which reflects the shelter’s mission:
While they are trained to administer the [euthanasia] injections, that is not the mission of the CHS, said Smith.
The organization’s vision statement is to “work until homelessness and abuse are no longer issues within our community and our adoption services are no longer needed. Through our example and work, we will affect and influence similar activity throughout Utah and the region.”
“Basically, our goal is to put ourselves out of business,” said Smith. “We are only here to respond to a need.”
Last week, Cache HS again responded to a local pet in need. A cat hating neighbor trapped an 8 year old boy’s pet and gave him to the police who took him to the Cache HS. The little boy knocked on every door in the neighborhood, including that of the trapper, asking if anyone had seen his missing kitty. The cat hater told him “No.” The child’s father went to the Cache HS to look for the pet and found him. But the staff refused to release the cat to the owner because the redemption fee had to be paid elsewhere and it was after hours. The owner was told to return in the morning to pick up the cat. When he did return the following morning, he found that Cache HS had oops-killed the cat because nobody had put a note on the records not to kill him. The owner asked for the remains so the pet could be buried, presumably to help the family in their grieving process, but the shelter refused.
The above link is a letter the 8 year old boy wrote to the local paper about the needless killing of his pet. It serves as a tragic reminder that shelter services are perhaps more accurately described as “family services” since their actions impact families. In the words of the heartbroken 8 year old boy:
She had just forgotten to write a note to save a member of my family. They killed him and I don’t know why.
I don’t know why either. The Cache HS reports that it saves only 37% of the cats in its care. In this case, they had an opportunity to save one pet by returning him to his family. They refused, apparently over money and protocol. When Mr. Peterson spoke to the local paper about Whitey’s killing, he said:
“If this is in fact protocol, then protocol needs to change[.]”
I agree with Mr. Peterson. The Cache HS director says they are working to put themselves out of business. Please Ms. Smith, do it. Today. The protocols employed by the Cache HS are putting families out of the happiness business and putting beloved pets out of the life business. Do the families in your region a favor and close your doors today. Demand that the community leaders in your service area come up with a true shelter to address the needs of lost and homeless pets by implementing the programs of the No Kill Equation. The community can not endure much more of your “mission”.