My cat slipped out of the house the night of Tuesday, Aug. 21 and I noticed she had not come home Wednesday morning. It was not common for her to be gone for two days, but by the third day I grew very concerned.
At that time, I didn't realize my 4-year-old cat would never be coming back.
I began to search for her immediately, and ended up talking to my neighbor who said the city's animal control officer had put a trap in their back yard and she was captured. I was relieved because I figured I'd go pay the fine and collect her unharmed.
I called dispatch and discovered there had indeed been a report of a trapped black cat on Aug. 22. So I went to the Western Hills Humane Society and she was not there. I hit up every veterinarian office in town, and no one had seen her. By this time it was Saturday and dispatch told me I wouldn't be able to talk to the animal control officer who cited in the report until Monday. I left my number and waited. On Monday the animal control officer called me and informed me my kitty had been “disposed of.” I later inquired with another officer what “disposed of” meant. He told me a .22 caliber pistol to the head. The animal control officer said my cat was acting violently and he felt she was dangerous. I'm sure she was hissing and hitting the side of the cage, but she was a five pound trapped and terrified cat. I was disgusted and felt sick. I started reading city ordinances. They are written quite well to protect your animal, I thought. According to city ordinance they have to detain the animal for 120 hours at the humane society or some other shelter. The only ordinance that says they can kill on the spot is section 5-9, which is about mercy killing injured or very sick animals. Even a rabies suspect must be monitored by a veterinarian before it is disposed of. Read the laws for yourself at www.amlegal.com/spearfish_sd. My cat had recently removed yet another collar and had no form of identification. She was impossible to keep a collar on. I do however have full documentation of her vaccination and spaying. She was all up to date, healthy, shiny black, a meticulous groomer and very well loved. Obviously not feral.
I set up a meeting with a few different city officials because I do not want this to ever happen to anyone else's animal. I think the ordinances are quite clear on this issue, and I'm disappointed as I was told this happens from time to time for various reasons. I personally would think it should never happen, period. There are strays around town, but it's just bad judgment to off an animal when the law states that the city is liable for it for five days. To date the city officials I have spoken with have been very sensitive to my position. I was informed the procedures used in this case, that should have never been carried out in the first place, are going to change. However, it appears to be business as usual.
Many people reading this may think, “It was just a cat.” I have no control of anyone's opinion. My argument is that if I break the law I'm fined or I go to jail. I believe someone should be held accountable for my loss.