Warning: There are images of a deceased cat at the links. They are not graphic but still very sad.
In 2013, an engaged couple adopted a kitten from a NJ shelter and named him Moe. They completed the adoption paperwork jointly. After the couple separated, Moe remained with owner Stephanie Radlinger. Moe’s microchip contact information was for Ms. Radlinger’s ex-fiance Mike Sedges. So when Moe got lost and was impounded by the Gloucester Co pound on September 30, it was Mr. Sedges who received the call from the microchip company. He gave them Ms. Radlinger’s contact information and the company left a message for her right away. Then things got weird:
Sedges said a shelter worker called him the same morning, instructed him to come to the shelter to identify Moe, and either take him home or surrender the animal to the shelter.
If he failed to do either within seven days, he would be charged with animal neglect, Sedges claims an animal control officer told him.
By 10:30 a.m., he was in Clayton filling out paperwork and paying the $10 surrender fee. Sedges was of the understanding surrendering the cat to the shelter would make it easier for Radlinger to readopt the cat, he claimed.
“When I was in the room with the cat it seemed like the same nice animal, a little skinnier, but it was rolling on its back and stretching and being a goofball,” Sedges claimed.
That afternoon, Ms. Radlinger picked up the message from the pound and immediately called to reclaim her cat. She says a staff member instructed her to complete an adoption application and, if approved, pay $95 to adopt her own cat. She did as she was told. But Moe was already dead – killed by the shelter staff for behavior. NJ law requires shelters to hold all animals for at least 7 days. Moe was held for less than one. Ms. Radlinger is heartbroken:
“The situation doesn’t make sense to me,” Radlinger, of Stratford, told the Courier-Post. “I thought the microchip was the safeguard against these things.”
Yeah, so they like to say.
Gloucester Co spokeswoman Debra Sellitto told the local paper that killing Moe “wasn’t a random decision.” That would seem to be true since last year, the Gloucester Co pound killed roughly 70% of its cats. Hard to call that random. More like Killing R Us.
Ms. Sellitto has more excuses in her hat too:
The shelter based ownership on the microchip information, according to Sellitto.
However, a microchip does not prove ownership under New Jersey law.
Oops. So that’s two violations of state law. Back to the hat:
“Since this incident, the animal shelter is going to be reviewing its procedures. If something is found to have been done improperly, staff persons will be dealt with accordingly,” Sellitto said.
IF something was done improperly? Does she mean besides the two violations of state law? Sounds like Gloucester Co looks out for its own. Has anyone checked under the sidewalks and parking lots lately?
Anyhoo, the Gloucester Co pound apparently felt this whole story was lacking in awful so they rectified that:
On Oct. 2, 24 hours after Moe was euthanized, shelter staff notified Radlinger by phone she was fit to adopt from the shelter.
“I just wanted my cat they already put down.”
Oh hey, we killed your cat but we’ll let you buy another one. Good things cats are interchangeable. Otherwise shelter staff might have been embarrassed and ashamed to make that phone call.
Ms. Radlinger is sharing her story on social media in order to raise awareness about needless killings at the Gloucester Co pound. She is reportedly considering a lawsuit against the facility. I wish her all the luck in the world.
(Thank you for the links Clarice.)