City Considers Changes After Family’s Beloved Cat is Killed by Animal Control

Life With Cats is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page.

Phil and Joy White’s 16 year old cat William wasn’t wearing his collar when he went out in his Newberg, Oregon neighborhood on September 3 of this year. As is typical of old cats, William stayed close to home.

A neighbor dropped a dime on William when she saw him, calling authorities.  Animal Control arrived, grabbed William with a catch pole, and took him away. An hour later they killed him.

Animal Control staff did not bother to check the cat for a microchip before killing him but discovered after he was dead that he was chipped with an implant from the UK, one they could not trace without making an extra effort.

Animal control staff held William’s appearance against him – he had a bad eye and a large scar from an accident years earlier that Phil White had spent thousands of dollars treating. They claim the elderly cat was was aggressive; so aggressive they couldn’t handle him to scan for a chip. They say his appearance suggested he might have been feral or diseased.

Phil White called Animal Control on September 4 and learned his beloved cat had been picked up off the street and killed almost immediately, with no attempt made to identify him and no waiting period for his family to claim him.

Phil told a news crew that Animal Control told him to come and pick up the body or they’d put it in the trash. William’s family brought him home and buried him in a place of honor.

Newberg Animal Shelter Supervisor Jeff Kosmicki told KGW Newchannel 8’s consumer reporter Ed Teachout, “We didn’t do anything wrong as far as what we did. It’s unfortunate. This was a very special situation because the cat was so aggressive or diseased or injured by the way the cat was acting.”

The Whites brought the matter to the attention of city authorities, and the Newberg City Council will hear a proposal in its November 19 meeting for “changes in policy and protocol … which will prevent similar incidents from happening again and will improve the quality of service provided by the Newberg-Dundee Animal Control program,” according to the city council action agenda summary.

That proposal, which includes Animal Control’s version of the incident, follows below the video from NWCN that features the Whites talking about their cat, along with Animal Control’s response. The proposal includes a mandatory hold time before killing animals, purchase of equipment for more humane treatment of animals, and greater regulation of euthanasia.

The Whites created a Paws in the Greens Facebook page to honor William and to bring some good from their loss, by helping reunite people with their missing pets, and by publicizing their efforts  for change. They also show progress on the city’s new shelter.


Report on policy changes and additions to the Newberg-Dundee Animal Control Policy.


On September 3, 2012, Animal Control Officer Darleen Harding responded to a call regarding a disoriented and/or possibly wounded cat. When she arrived the cat was found in the middle ofthe road turning in circles. Hardin noted the cat appeared to be missing an eye and had a long scar across its chest. The cat was difficult to control and perceived to be potentially dangerous. Based on her experience, Harding thought the cat was feral and or diseased.

When Harding returned to the shelter, the cat’s demeanor had not altered so she left it in the rear kennel of her truck in hopes it would calm down. Approximately two hours later Harding observed that the cat’s condition and temper had not changed. Harding believed the cat would be a danger to the other animals, the volunteers, or herself, and was either in pain, injured and/or diseased. Based on those observations, she elected to euthanize the cat.

Harding did not scan the cat prior to putting it down because she believed the cat’s actions posed too much of a risk. The cat was scanned after it was put down and was found to have a microchip. However, identification was not retrievable because the chip was implanted in the UK.

Phil White, the cat’s owner, contacted Animal Control on September 4, 2012,describing his missing cat and confirmed it was his 16-year old cat that Harding had picked-up. Understandably, he was upset that his cat had been euthanized and felt the City should have waited 24-hours before taking action.

Mr. White addressed the City Council on October 1, 2012, concerning this issue and expressed his displeasure with the circumstances under which his cat was euthanized. Harding has 28 years of experience and there have been no similar issues with her decision to euthanize an animal. However, the police department does recognize that other options could have been considered, which may have prevented the cat from being euthanized.

In an effort to establish policies and protocol to prevent this situation from reoccurring, Mr. White has met and worked with members of the Newberg-Dundee Police Department administration, Newberg Animal Shelter Friends, and the Yamhill County Cat Coalition. From those meetings the involved parties have agreedto changes in policy and protocol, and the additional purchase of equipment, which will prevent similar incidents from happening again and will improve the quality of service provided by the Newberg-Dundee Animal Control Program.


Newberg-Dundee Animal control will follow Oregon euthanasia law and the euthanasia best practices established by the Oregon Humane Society.
The Animal control officer will not euthanize any animal without prior approval from a police department supervisor or licensed veterinarian.
When appropriate, the Animal Control Officer will use sedation before euthanizing.

No animal will be euthanized without a 24 hour waiting period unless an emergency exists and approval to euthanize is given from a police department supervisor or licensed veterinarian. An emergency is defined as a severely injured animal, severely sick animal, uncontainable dangerous animal, or other condition deemed to be an emergency by a police department supervisor or licensed veterinarian.

No dog or cat will be euthanized without first being scanned for a microchip and checked for a license or other form of identification.

A detailed report and log will be completed and maintained by the Animal control officer for all animals euthanized. The report will detail the reason the animal was euthanized, who approved the euthanasia, the condition of the animal, attempts to identify the animal, the period of time the animal was in custody, along with other reporting requirements.

The Newberg-Dundee police Department has purchased a new scanner with an extension, a squeeze cage and netting, and will consult with a local veterinarian for sedation and IV training.




0 thoughts on “City Considers Changes After Family’s Beloved Cat is Killed by Animal Control”

  1. Rest in Peace William and hugs for his family. What is wrong with Animal Control that they can’t tell a cat is elderly and yes probably disoriented and what is wrong with the neighbor for calling Animal Control. This whole thing just stinks in so many ways, I hope that some good comes out of it.

  2. What a nightmare for William – he must have been so very frightened. And I’m sure many cats would act the same way, especially older ones. I have four who would most likely be in the same position if they got out of the house – and it can happen so easily! I pray the Newberg Animal Control is very serious about changing procedures and this will never happen to another cat. Rest in peace, sweet William and my condolences to his family.

  3. Why, oh why was William allowed to roam? This is just another example of how dangerous this world is for animals who are not kept indoors or closely supervised when they are out. (I’m wondering about his missing eye and terrible scar, too.)

  4. What a heartbreak. The laws must be changed. My heart goes out to Williams’ family. So very sorry for your loss.

  5. RIP William. How awful that your life ended this way. Unfortunately, it is a fact of life that cats can and do get outside sometimes. The laws need to be changed so that there is a mandatory wait time before the animal is pos. Unfortunately, that is not always a guarantee that animals and their families will be reunited, but it is a start. As for me, that neighbor and I would be having a little chat. Then, I would be talking to my lawyer.

  6. True. My cats have gotten out a time or two, with me right behind them to return them to safety. My elderly cats have never had a broken bone, lost an eye or had to have surgery to repair a traumatic wound. I’m not trying to be cruel, but, the majority of these types of injuries happen to cats who are allowed to roam.

Leave a Comment