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

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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.

0 thoughts on “Chipped Cat Not Scanned; Put With Ferals at Shelter in Controversy Over Killings”

  1. 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.

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

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

  4. 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…

  5. 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…

  6. 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.

  7. 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!!!!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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. 🙂

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

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