Case of missing cat turns tragic - Black Hills Pioneer: Letters To The Editor

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Case of missing cat turns tragic

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Posted: Saturday, September 8, 2012 6:00 am

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 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.

R.I.P. Poobs.

Cavan Jurgens,


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Welcome to the discussion.


  • kf posted at 9:30 am on Sat, Sep 22, 2012.

    kf Posts: 1

    Like most readers, I believed Mrdgas' story and was feeling sorry for him/her. But I decieded to do some reserch of my own. It turns out that Mrdgas' neighbor turned the cat in because he was sick and tired of the cat always going after birds and killing them in his yard. The neighbor did not know who the cat belong to because there was no collar to identify the cat. I am a cat owner and have had many cats through out my life, I never had a problem with putting a collar on a cat! If you want your animal safe then put a collar on it and, if it will not let you put a collar on it then you need to put a chip in the animal so it can be identified by athorities! This story makes me so mad because Mrdgas will have you believe it is all the AC officer's fault, but once again I did some reserch. The AC officer did not act on his own, but rather when he saw the cat was actting in scary manner he asked his supervisor (which is protocol) to look at the cat and figure what to do. The supervisor is the one who said to put it down because, once again, they did not know anything about this animal because of no identification! The supervisor of the AC officer is the one who decieded to put down the cat. I was told you couldn't even go near the cage because of the way the cat was actting. In the end, yes I blame the cat owner! He/She could have prevented this from the begining. Animal owners need to take responsiblity in identifiying ther loved animal......Put a collar on OR put a micro chip in!!

  • KJ posted at 12:55 am on Sun, Sep 9, 2012.

    KJ Posts: 6

    Mrdgas, placing the blame on the cat owner doesn't seem fair. I believe the point being raised is that the AC officer blatantly broke the law. When did it become alright for an officer who is supposedly educated on these laws to simply disregard them? Even if the animal was deemed feral it would be outside of the law to shoot it without a holding period. There are city ordinances are in place to prevent something like this from happening. There is no excuse for this animal being shot. Would it have been incredibly difficult for the AC officer to take the cat to the humane society? Shouldn't anyone who breaks the law be held to the same standard, city employee or not?

  • Mrdgas posted at 8:07 pm on Sat, Sep 8, 2012.

    Mrdgas Posts: 1

    In all honesty, I understand your loss but don't believe anyone but yourself is responsible for this loss. I believe that if the cat would have had proper tags the city would have been able to contact you the second the cat was caught. The animal control officer probably noticed that the cat did not have tags and when he saw the cat acting violent, he probably assumed that the cat was a stray. This is all speculation of course, because I was not there nor do I have prior knowledge of this event. I thank the employees that work for the city of spearfish and understand they they have to make difficult decisions, such as this one everyday. It is always easy to point fingers at those who have to make decisions based on other irresponsible acts.