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Chipped Cat Not Scanned; Put With Ferals at Shelter in Controversy Over Killings

Cathy Forrester’s missing microchipped cat Pumpkin turned up in a cage behind an animal control shelter already in turmoil over alleged unnecessary killings.

The Kern County Animal Shelter on Mount Vernon Ave. in Bakersfield CA is at the center of two stories currently in the news.

We set out today to tell the story of Cathy Forrester and her cat Pumpkin but found an unsettling juxtaposition between that story and the recent firing of the shelter’s new director over her allegations of unlawful killings of cats and dogs.

Ms. Forrester’s microchipped cat Pumpkin was missing for over a week and a half before she finally discovered him locked away in a large open air cage reserved for feral cats behind the Mount Vernon Ave. facility. The shelter staff had not bothered to scan for a chip, citing Pumpkin’s antisocial behavior after having been trapped and essentially catnapped and brought to the strange place full of animals.

Ms. Forrester recognized his meowing, had the staff bring him out and scan him to verify his identity and was able to take him home. She was charged $105 to get him back but the shelter graciously offered to waive part of the fee because the cat was not scanned.

Ms. Forrester, who had searched diligentlly for her cat, took her displeasure with the animal control facility to television news station KBAK, who produced a story on her experience, seen below.

We were curious about the fate of cats held in the facility’s outdoor ferals cage and decided to look into the shelter’s policies. It took only moments to discover that there is a controversy over unlawful animal killings by officers associated with the shelterm which has allegedly caused a new shelter manager to be let go.

Kim Mullins

Kim Mullins was fired last month after a 6 month probationary period as Kern County Animal Control manager. Ms. Mullins says she believes she was let go after pursuing change too aggressively and acting as a whistleblower in raising concerns that Bakersfield City Animal control, which also is affiliated with the shelter, was unlawfully killing animals in the field. A rift between the city and county officers deepened over the attempts at change, and outcry over the alleged killings. There are further concerns over animals at the shelter being killed before their few days in which to be claimed are up. The manager position has had significant turnover in the last four years, which suggests a troubled animal control unit.

Volunteers from the Friends of Kern Shelter showed their support for Ms. Mullins when they spoke at a board meeting and told board members that Ms. Mullins was the most responsive leader they had  worked with.

A short excerpt from a recent newspaper article gives a brief look at the recent history of the troubled animal agency. According to the Bakersfield Californian of May 21:

‘Kern County has struggled for nearly a decade to transition from a catch-and-kill organization to a humane agency that advocates for responsible pet ownership, licensing and helping lost and unwanted animals find people who want them.

The call for change had long been made, but momentum built after the city of Bakersfield moved all its animals into the county shelter after a bitter 2003 breakup with the Bakersfield SPCA, its former shelter.

With the animals from much of the unincorporated county, and the county’s largest incorporated population center, in one place, the scope of Kern County’s animal problem came into focus.

Constantine, who ran Animal Control at the time, faced overcrowding.

The percentage of shelter animals euthanized by Kern County Animal Control hovered around 80 percent.

Tens of thousands of animals died at the end of a county syringe every year.”

The animal control shelter is still overwhelmed  and in difficulty by all estimations, and that is acknowledged by all those involved.  It is also generally acknowledged that the county  itself has a very high rate of neglected, abandoned and stray animals; so whatever other troubles Kern County’s animal agencies face they are dealing with a huge problem of far too many unwanted, stray or ill-cared for animals.

While we do not know exactly what the accepted practices are at the Kern County animal control shelter facility we strongly suspect that Pumpkin is lucky to have gotten out of there alive and returned to his family. As many of us know, ferals do not usually pass the adoptability test at kill shelters, especially ones that are continually overrun with animals.

KBAK feature on Pumpkin

KBAK feature on the shelter. May 23.




43 comments

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    June 6, 2011 8:05 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Rebecca Vernon

    I would be really upset too. I know if my cat ever got taken in, she’d probably act feral too – some cats are more high-string than others.

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    June 6, 2011 8:07 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Lynnaire MacDonald

    That’s appalling!

    Reply
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    June 6, 2011 8:08 pmPosted 3 years ago
    N Elizabeth Johansen

    From my own personal experience, part of the problem is a lack of proper training, with attitude being a heavy contributor. >^,,^<

    Reply
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    June 6, 2011 8:08 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Lucy Cheal

    :( thank god there’s a happy ending to that story! Its just lazyness on the shelters part!! x

    Reply
  • June 6, 2011 8:11 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Karen Andrade

    Appalling.

    Reply
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    June 6, 2011 8:11 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Lucy Cheal

    Well for that cat anyway! Not for the rest of the poor babies :(

    Reply
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    June 6, 2011 8:12 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Rebecca Vernon

    *strung

    Reply
  • June 6, 2011 8:13 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Valerie Snowden

    I think this problem is more prevalent than most people realize.

    Reply
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    June 6, 2011 8:15 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Shawna Clausen

    Kern has a horrible reputation along the west coast in regards to the inhumane treatment taking place & unwillingness to change long-standing policies. An 80% euth rate is horrible…and nothing to be proud of considering it doesn’t take alot of effort to network…

    Reply
  • June 6, 2011 8:23 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Joyce Yoho

    I’m so relieved she got Pumpkin back.

    Reply
  • June 6, 2011 8:25 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Life With Cats

    Shawna, I remembered having read about Kern in the Bakersfield Californian article last month but am not well informed enough to know the current death rate. Any idea? I’m curious if they have a relationship with a rescue that takes the cats from the supposed ferals cage, too.

    Reply
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    June 6, 2011 8:28 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Nicole Kinsey

    Most of my cats would “act feral” if a stranger had them in a trap, too! What a bunch of crap. 80% kill rate! And then they don’t even bother scanning? Far too many shelters are run and staffed by people who should have nothing to do with animals. Like people who work in nursing homes & hospitals, compassion and patience should be MAJOR requirements for working with animals.

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    June 6, 2011 8:42 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Shawna Clausen

    There was a litter of puppies pulled just last month from Kern…on the trip to their foster home in Oregon, they started vomiting with diarrhea…turns out to be giardia (not parvo). Kern’s response was less than ideal. :(
    I will do some research on their euth rate & get back to you…

    Reply
  • June 6, 2011 8:45 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Life With Cats

    Thanks Shawna.
    It finally ocurred to me to ask Courtney from Bakersfield Cat People if she knows what becomes of cats that end up in that ferals cage.

    Reply
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    June 6, 2011 8:46 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Shawna Clausen

    I hope there’s a rescue for the “ferals”…cats are not winners in most kill shelters especially those that exhibit feral-type behaviors. One of my cats would be tagged as feral if caught in a trap. :(

    Reply
  • June 6, 2011 9:05 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Machelle Trail

    inexcusable that ALL the animals not be scanned.

    Reply
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    June 6, 2011 9:40 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Pamela

    The pet owner did what a responsible pet owner should and had the cat chipped. I noticed at the end of the news report – they are still attempting to shift the blame to Ms. Forrester by saying that all animals should have a collar with a readable tag. Any one that knows cats knows that collars can be very dangerous and can actually cause a cat’s death, especially one that spends time outside. This is one of the main reasons more cats are being chipped. However, it sounds as if a chip, or collar, or a flashing neon sign would not have been sufficient for this unbelievably dysfunctional shelter. Some heads need to roll and this needs to be taken care of immediately. And if things don’t start changing soon – then charges of felony animal cruelty should be brought against shelter employees for every animal that has been euthanized – maybe that will get someone’s attention.

    Reply
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    June 6, 2011 10:31 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Yolanda Lira Isaacs

    I can’t even read these things anymore without losing my Christianity!!!!! They should get rid of crappy people in this world instead of the animals!!!!

    Reply
  • June 7, 2011 12:38 amPosted 3 years ago
    M&M

    Thanks for sharing the story. That is so scary!! I’m so glad he was saved finally!

    Reply
  • June 7, 2011 2:31 amPosted 3 years ago
    Kathryn Goldie

    Really glad to hear that he made it home.

    Reply
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    June 7, 2011 7:45 amPosted 3 years ago
    Luanne

    Sounds like the Memphis Animal Services, only they abuse animals and the director doesn’t get fired, he is praised by the mayor and his staff.

    Reply
  • June 7, 2011 1:23 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Wanda Velez

    I’m not surprised by this news…i have personally spoken with people who were blessed to find their microchipped pets @ open admissions / kill shelters. Their animals were either NOT scanned OR the staff member who did the scanned didn’t know how to use the equipment properly and the tag was not scanned at all. That is why i tell people to NEVER give up looking for their pets, use flyers, replaced the damaged or removed flyers, talk to everyone….keep aggresively searching. On the other hand I would NEVER go against microchipping since i hae also seen many many happy families reunited even years later! Cat Bless You All!

    Reply
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    June 7, 2011 3:19 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Gayle Milstead Oliver

    EXACT reason my girls have NEVER touched grass … I couldn’t take it if something happened to one of them or they disappeared … :(

    Reply
  • June 7, 2011 3:21 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Lisa Neff

    If the cat didn’t have a collar on and wasn’t chipped, I think most people would regard it as a stray . . .

    Reply
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    June 7, 2011 3:27 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Gayle Milstead Oliver

    It was chipped, tho .. they didnt scan it!

    Reply
  • June 7, 2011 3:28 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Machelle Trail

    probably killed one the neighbors song birds and ticked them off. that’s all it takes w/some people.

    Reply
  • June 7, 2011 3:31 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Kimberly Bain

    We should not kill any cats, feral or not….

    Reply
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    June 7, 2011 3:32 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Kathleen Grube

    Or probably was the first one trapped since he was really tame and nobody took the time to find out. People are lazy and don’t think twice about killing if it’s convenient for them.

    Reply
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    June 7, 2011 3:32 pmPosted 3 years ago
    N Elizabeth Johansen

    With some people, all it takes is to exist. All the more reason to keep your kitties close to home, and inside if you aren’t going to be able to keep watch over them.

    Reply
  • June 7, 2011 3:40 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Maura Black

    What kind of archaic place rounds up ferals and kills them anyway? That place is troubled in more than one way.

    Reply
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    June 7, 2011 3:43 pmPosted 3 years ago
    N Elizabeth Johansen

    What this place has been doing from my perspective is killing any animal that the people working there don’t like. All the animals desrve a chance.

    Reply
  • June 7, 2011 4:00 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Life With Cats

    The problem goes beyond animal control’s policies and practices. We’ve been told by more than one person and have read elsewhere that the county itself is overwhelmed with neglected, abandoned, and stray animals.
    Some people and rescue organizations there are working to the best of their abilities to do what they can to help the animals.

    Reply
  • June 7, 2011 4:15 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Maura Black

    Our SPCA gives free spay/neuter to ferals as well as certain breeds and to certain income levels. We have issues too, but birth control can go a long way to reduce the load on the shelters. If they don’t have a program like this, it could go a long way towards addressing their issues. They are clearly out of control and need systemic changes that will change the equation.

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    June 7, 2011 4:25 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Kathleen Grube

    @LWC, you hear that over and over again, but so often, an examination of the real issues reveals lack of leadership and mismanagement – everything from compassion overload (killing “in the best interest of the animals”) to highly paid execs who don’t do anything to earmarked funding being reallocated elsewhere or spent inappropriately. I don’t necessarily buy that ‘woe is us’ story or that they don’t have solutions.

    Reply
  • June 7, 2011 5:05 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Terri Brittingham

    Well thank God they found Pumpkin in time. She looks just like my Pickles.

    Reply
  • June 7, 2011 5:08 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Courtney Clerico

    I can tell you bottom line we have AMAZING leaders here in town working to change the way things are done here. We fight lack of funding, education, and compassion every day. We are constantly trying to invent new ways to raise funds and awareness. We want people to understand that things are out of control here and we need help and support from animal lovers across the country to make things better. The last thing we need, however, is for people to start thinking that we are neglecting to do everything possible.

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    June 7, 2011 6:20 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Andrea Connor

    bless you for not giving up I would never!

    Reply
  • June 7, 2011 8:59 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Rita Rodriguez Jackson

    This brought back back horrible memories of when my Tigger was picked up and put in the stray building at the loal shelter.. I looked everywhere for him and decided to check the stray building and found my boy after a week of looking for him.. He was also micrchipped and was not scanned until I told them that he was my cat.. I raised so much hell that they scanned him I believe to get me out of there.. His collar wasn’t on him when they picked him up, I’m guessing he lost it somewhere.. They are better now about scanning. :)

    Reply
  • June 7, 2011 9:02 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Tammy Hengst

    Cathy must have been just over the moon and somewhat frightened when she found him because of where he was~! Praise God~!

    Reply
  • June 8, 2011 12:35 amPosted 3 years ago
    Rebecca Brodson Rice

    Just the blurbs posted with this story made me cry– what’s *wrong* with a place that doesn’t check for a chip?!? How could they *do* that? *Every* cat or dog that comes to a shelter, or any other animal, for that matter, should be carefully scanned. My gosh– think of the money it can save an overworked, overcrowded shelter if a few of those “strays” go home and need no further medical, nutritional, or “end of life” care? Her sweet family member almost got put down because they were… what? Lazy? Poorly organized? I’ve volunteered at my share of shelters and rescues, and there are good practices and bad. This seems to me to be one of the worst.

    Reply
  • June 8, 2011 11:41 amPosted 3 years ago
    Wanda Velez

    Most Open Admission (Kill) Shelters (if not all) separate the “ferals” from what appear to be pet cats and kill them asap :( if my Maui was ever in a shelter she would have been considered a feral (’cause she was always afraid and lashed out of fear) and killed. Pet Parents of a lost fur-child: NEVER give up! go to the shelter again and again and check everywhere like Ms Forrester did. This kitty had angels watching over him

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    June 8, 2011 2:05 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Kathleen Grube

    I have two ‘feral’ CH kitties that are the gentlest cats you could imagine. Very low maintenance and affectionate. They just spent the first two years of their lives without a home and so they need to be reintroduced to human touch each time you see them. They wouldn’t have a chance.

    Reply
  • July 22, 2011 12:27 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Gin

    What a lucky outcome. My biggest fear is that my little lost dog, Pickles, will not be scanned and will never find her way home. we are doing everything imaginable to bring Pickles home but one thing out of our control is scanning at vet clinics and animal welfare centers. I am so happy to hear Pumpkin is home safe :)

    Reply

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