Beloved Cat’s Killing by Animal Officer Leads to Policy Changes

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Photo, Suncoast news
Debbie Patsos shows a photo of her beloved cat. Photo, Andy Jones/Tribune via Suncoast News


Peggy was a healthy 10 year old cat who happened to have an imperfect gait because she was born with only three paws. One of her hind legs was shorter and stumpy.

She got out of the house and wandered four doors down, where she went in and out of the garage meowing. The neighbor called animal services, and that call led directly to Peggy’s untimely death. The responding officer killed her on the spot, in accordance with policy that allowed for the euthanasia of severely injured animals whose owners could not be found.

Peggy’s family is devastated.

“She was our family member,” said petmom Debbie Patsos. “She had a handicap which gave her character to us. It did not mean she was unadoptable or unlovable. It made her more lovable to us.”

The tragic incident took place on July 6 in the Wildreness Lake Preserve neighborhood of Land O Lakes, Florida, in Pascoe County.

“When that person called me, I thought it was a cruel joke. I thought there was no way someone could just kill a cat!” Debbie Patsos said, remembering the call she got from an Animal Services volunteer telling her that Peggy had been killed.

The responding officer said he killed the cat because it was dragging its hind legs and couldn’t move them. According to a news release from Animal Services, the officer couldn’t find tags or a microchip so he euthanized the animal to prevent further suffering.

“They’re lying. They’re lying flat out,” said Casey McCarthy, the neighbor who made the call that ended in Peggy’s death. McCarthy vehemently disagreed with the officer’s description of the cat and says the cat walked into the carrier. “It was actually pretty agile. It came right up to me. It was friendly,” He continued, “I’m beyond mad. First off, if anyone said, ‘If the shelter takes it, they’re going to euthanize it,’ I would have said, ‘Never mind.'”

McCarthy thought Peggy had an injury and expected Animal services to take her for veterinary care. Instead, the cat was killed in the department’s van.

McCarthy is quoted in the Suncoast News saying, “That guy had to chase that cat around my car. If that cat had no use of his back legs, I think it would’ve been slow enough that he would’ve caught it.”

Debbie Patsos searched for Peggy when she realized she was gone. She went to the shelter to let them know her cat was missing and found out what had happened two days after the killing, on Monday, July 8.

This WTSP channel 10 video news report on the story features remarks from the heartbroken pet owner and the neighbor who unknowingly made the call than resulted in Peggy’s death.

(Continue reading below for the list of changes to policy.)


County officials determined that the officer’s actions did not violate policy, which allowed for euthanasia of severely injured animals in the field if their owners cannot be identified.

Suzanne Salichs, Assistant county administrator for public services, Suzanne Salichs said, “It’s very unfortunate and we know the loss of a pet is a serious thing, and we are looking further into this.”

Peggy’s killing has led to newly announced changes in County policy, which will be enacted for a 90 day trial period and then evaluated.

Under the new procedures:

No animal will be euthanized outside the shelter.

Officers will try to locate an owner in the area before taking an animal to the shelter.

If the owner can’t be found, the officer will take the animal to the shelter to be evaluated or to a nearby veterinarian.

The remains of animals that are euthanized at the shelter will be held for seven days.

County officials say they plan to invite all Pasco County veterinarians to a forum to discuss creating an emergency care network to be put into place for when injured strays are found.

Pascoe County spokesman Ed Caum said in a news release, “We would also like to use this sad experience as a teaching moment to remind all pet owners to tag, microchip or tattoo their pet, to help ensure they can be reunited if they are separated.”








11 thoughts on “Beloved Cat’s Killing by Animal Officer Leads to Policy Changes”

  1. This is horrifying. The owner can’t be located, really? That’s why the kitty was lost. Did the animal control officer expect the owner to be running around frantically at that very moment. What did animal control do, ask the neighbor who called about the cat if they knew whose it was and then call it a day? Seriously, this is outrageous! The policies must be completely re-evaluated. Indoor only animals can mistakenly get out and be confused. Obviously this loving girl was only four doors away from home but the neighbor wouldn’t necessarily know that if they didn’t personally know Ms. Patsos, the owner.
    The animal control officer is lying to cover up their mistake. The neighbor who called about the cat witnessed the agility of the “handicapped” cat. Fire the guy, and have animal control pay for a private cremation and memorial plaque for Peggy. Then have the top guy handwrite a personal letter of condolence and apologize for their egregious error. And offer another cat or kitten to the Patsos’s when and if they are ready. No time limit. Period… No excuses.
    My sincere condolences to Peggy’s family. She didn’t deserve this.
    And sorry, Mr. McCarthy, you didn’t try to find the owner either. Shame on you too

  2. Hi Robert,
    I’m so sorry you lost Mistoffelees in this way! It must have been so terrible for her.

    I will gladly to a site post with a link to the petition for you if you wish. Please let me know. You can respond here or write me at [email protected] or better yet, [email protected].

    I cannot reprint from the Baltimore Sun but you can provide me with the story.


  3. Sorry for the typos in my comment, including in the email address. … I was outside and couldn’t see the mistakes in the glare on my screen. It should have been [email protected] .

  4. Sorry for the typos in my comment, including in the email address. … I was outside and couldn’t see the mistakes in the glare on my screen. It should have been [email protected] .

  5. We at North Shore Animal League, advised cat owners to never let their cats out of the house! There are to many dangers, especially people.

  6. Hmmm…. I contacted the Humane Society about the death of my cat at the Hands of the Humane Society Harford County on 28 JUN 13 – see links above. I simply got a response indicating they were sorry this happened and HSHC was not affiliated with them.

    Bob Brooks

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