Porkchop's Tragic Death at Shelter Inspires Petition for Reform
Porkchop was admitted to the shelter at 4:08 PM and euthanasia took place at 4:09.
He got out of his home at noon on January 10th, and was put down 4 hours and 9 minutes later. Porkchop was a loving friend and he will be forever missed.
Kaitlyn Hughes tells Porkchop’s tragic story and hopes it will help to bring needed changes to operations at the county shelter where her beloved kitty died.
Porkchop died in 60 Seconds @ The Mobile County Animal Shelter
The reason I am writing this is that I have a rather horrifying story about the Mobile County Animal Shelter. I believe that it needs to be made public in an attempt to save other pet owners from the same incredible heartbreak that I have endured over the past few days.
Last Thursday, January 10th, my 5 month old kitten named Porkchop slipped out of my apartment while I was on my way out to run errands. He had never even shown interest in going outside (I’ve had him indoors since the day he was born), so I was not being as attentive as I probably should have been. It was about 12:00 in the afternoon when I left to first go to the Pet Supplies “Plus” store located across the street from our apartments to buy Porkchop a new bag of kitten food and a collar. My dog, Tegan, at my mom’s house had just chewed Porkchop’s collar while he was visiting my mom over my Christmas break.After I finished at the pet store, I went on to stock up for back-to-school at Target and Walmart. I arrived back at the apartments at approximately 3;30 PM. The first thing that generally happens when I come home is Porkchop warmly greets me at the door with a roaring purr. I was excited to give him his new collar and when I didn’t see him at the door, I began calling him. I called and he did not come. So, I grabbed his bag of treats and began shaking them (this ALWAYS worked). But, still Porkchoop did not come. I immediately felt panicky, so I knocked on my neighbor’s door (an elderly man with cats who had met Porkchop before) and he began helping me search outside the apartments. It began to pour down rain, but still my neighbor, my roommate, and I began searching in the woods behind out apartment, After about 30 minutes of no success, I began trying to spread the word to people I saw walking dogs around the complex, the office, maintenance, etc.. I posted an ad quickly on Craigslist, searched the complex throoughly with my mom, sister, and boyfriend. But, still, no success. I was devastated. Porkchop followed me everywhere and he was the most loving cat I’ve ever known. I worried about him being out in the rain, getting cold and hungry. He was not used to such treatment.
It was a very hard night, but I remained hopeful that the next day would bring good news. I couldn’t have been more horribly mistaken.
I decided that I couldn’t just sit around and sulk. I had to be productive. Put up flyers, make a huge sign and put it at the front of the apartment complex where EVERYONE would see as they drove in, go by the shelters. I accomplished almost all of these tasks within about 4 or 5 hours. The first priority was to make sure Porkchop was not just simply waiting for me at the shelter, ready to be picked up! So, my sister and I checked the County shelter and then the City. We noticed that employees at the County were a little less helpful and friendly than those at the City, but we didn’t think much of it at the time. We just knew he was not at either and we had to keep pushing.
As soon as I finished putting up flyers at the mailboxes and in the laundry room of the apartments, I went back to my apartment to finish up the giant poster I planned on putting at the entrance. Just in the nick of time, there was a knock at the door. I answered and it was my upstairs neighbor. “Did you happen to lose an orange kitten yesterday?” he inquired.
My heart began to race as I quickly replied “YES! Do you have him??”
The neighbor told me that they did not have Porkchop anymore because they took him to the shelter. He said that they heard Porkchop meowing outside their door and as soon as they opened it, he shot in. He went on to say that they kept him in their apartment for about 2 hours, debated on whether or not they would keep him. They had even provided him a temporary name, Simba. He then confirmed that they decided they couldn’t keep him, so they took him to the Mobile County Animal Shelter on Howell’s Ferry road.
I quickly thanked him, ran inside to tell my roommate the good news, and dashed to my car. Realizing I had forgotten to get Porkchop’s kennel in all of my excitement, I ran back in to get it (my roommate slightly giggling at how excited I was).
On my way to the shelter, I called them to let them know I was on my way to get Porkchop. It was about 3;50 and they close at 4;30, so I just wanted to assure them that I wanted him to come home with me that night. Also, I was obviously very confused as to why I wouldn’t have seen him while I had been there earlier with my sister. I tried calling twice and nobody answered. Finally, I tried their animal control number. The man that answered (his name was Rick, I believe) was very rude to me and said that this would not even be in their jurisdiction and the employees wouldn’t even have taken Porkchop. Yet my neighbor clearly stated they did. Also, my neighbor gave the name of his roommate (the one who actually signed the papers at the shelter) just in case the shelter gave me any trouble. The man then transferred me to the front desk and I spoke with a lady whom I told my neighbor’s name and asked her to look up the file. She did so, but said she was unable to find anything like that. She transferred me yet again to the processing room where they held newly admitted cats. This lady told me they only had a black and grey kitten admitted one hour ago in the processing room. Porkchop was an orange short-haired tabby.
I was so confused, but I knew I had to face these people and find out what they trying to do.
When I got to the shelter, the lady at the desk still seemed confused and unwilling to help me. She told me I was free to go look in the cat room, but the same cats I had seen earlier that day were the only ones in there. No Porkchop. I was beginning to get a little irritated at this point. I had so much adrenaline pumping from finding out that my baby had been found and I wanted to see him.
Finally, the lady at the desk asked an employee named Andrew to go get the file for me. A few minutes later, Andrew came out and asked me to step outside. He began to tell the story of how Porkchop was brought into the shelter in a very different way than my neighbor had explained. He said that my neighbors caught Porkchop in a trap and brought him to the shelter in the trap. He also said that they checked off that this was a feral cat. “Anytime there is any suspicion that a feral cat is being brought in, we euthanize on the spot.”
My heart sunk farther than you could ever imagine. I didn’t know whether to cry or just feel rage. I raised my voice at the man and asked how could they do such a thing? This was a perfectly healthy, well-fed, neutered, affectionate kitten. I had just given him a bath the day before he got out. “Did you even look at him?!” I asked.
He explained that they go strictly off of the report given by the person who brings the animal in, regardless of whether or not this person has any prior knowledge of the cat. I couldn’t believe this could be their policy.
Well, I found out it’s not. Also, Andrew lied to me about the report. My boyfriend went back up to the shelter yesterday to get the papers, after a failed attempt we made on Saturday when the lady at the front desk said they were only open for adoptions, not administrative work. One of things my neighbor stated on the report was that the animal had no behavior issues. Obviously, he did not say anything about him being feral.
I went back to talk to my neighbor on Saturday after the failed attempt at collecting papers (I didn’t know whether to be furious at the neighbors or the shelter, or both) and he expressed deep condolences. He said he took Porkchop to the shelter in his HANDS. Not a trap. “His hairs are all over the back of my truck”, he told me. “They had a trap and they put him in there and carried him to the back”.
The most disturbing thing we found on the papers is the amount of time Porkchop was given to live.
I have documentation from the shelter stating that my sweet baby was admitted at 4;08 and euthanasia took place at 4:09.
The policy they gave my boyfriend was that any healthy stray should be given 7 days for the owner to come and retrieve the animal. Then, they would make the decision based on their condition and temperament whether or not they will be put up for adoption. I have also heard from the Mobile SPCA that it is required by law in Mobile for an animal to be given 5 days for an owner to come and pick them up. They gave Porkchop all of one minute.
The shelter has tried their best to justify what they’ve done by telling me that this is not an issue I need to take up with them, but one that I should take up with my neighbor. They have told me that Porkchop was aggressive towards the staff. But, I now know that they gave him absolutely no time to calm down and evaluate him properly. If they had, they would have seen the sweetest kitten you could imagine. Anybody that knew Porkchop would testify to that. Of course Porkchop was scared and maybe a little aggressive upon being taken into a scary place. He had never even been outside before, much less been man-handled by strangers and shoved into a cage.
The whole thing is so sickening and I am just so unbelievably heart-broken. My apartment reminds me so much of Porkchop and I can still hear his roaring purr. This was not just a pet. He was my best friend. Yet, nobody at the Mobile County Animal Shelter, not even the day that they told me what they’d done, has apologized to me a single time. They haven’t even shown the slightest bit of regret for the hell that they’ve caused me and my family.
I am writing to you because I don’t know where to turn and I’m hoping you can either give me some advice, or possibly make Porkchop’s story public so that this senseless killing is not allowed to happen to anyone else’s loving companion.
I have created a petition that I would love for you to take a look at and possibly share. It is an attempt to get an advisory board set up to oversee what happens at the shelter and ensure that something like this would not occur again in the future.
You can find it here: Please Help Reform the Mobile County Animal Shelter.
The petition asks for reasonable reforms and policies to be put in place. You can read the details at the petition page.
Local NBC affiliate Channel 15 covered Kaitlyn and Porkchop’s story on February 1.
Thank you so much for taking the time to hear my story. I cannot stay silent about what has happened and I will not let Porkchop die in vain.
Another news feature from February 8 covers an investigation of MCAS by county commissioners.
Commissioner Connie Hudson formulated a list of recommendations (click to view the document) which include:
1. Appoint a medical Evaluation Team
2. Engage an agency to evaluate the Mobile county Animal Shelter policy
3. Appoint certified veterinarian(s)
4. Appoint a community advisory board
5. Appoint rescue group coordinators