For Daniel Dockery, Scruffy was more than just a beloved cat. She was an anchor in the life of the former inmate who credits her with helping him overcome an addiction to heroin. Now she is dead, euthanized by the Arizona Humane Society over failure to pay a bill for her treatment.
Dockery had brought Scruffy to the Humane Society for treatment of a laceration in early December. But before the clinic would attend to the animal’s wounds, they required payment of the $400 vet bill. Dockery offered to have his mother call with her credit card number, but they refused to take the information over the phone. The staff told him that the only way Scruffy would be treated was if he signed over ownership.
Faced with a devastating choice, Dockery asked what would become of the cat and was told she would be put up for adoption. When he further inquired whether he would be able to re-adopt her, the staff hesitated. Ultimately, he says he was told Scruffy would be sent to a shelter and that he might be able to reclaim her if he went to find her.
For the weeks following, Dockery scoured shelter adoption books and looked at every cat in every cage. But he was unable to locate Scruffy.
It was not until yesterday that he learned the fate of the cat he had raised from a kitten. Scruffy had been destroyed within hours of his surrendering her to the Humane Society.
According to Stacy Pearson, a Humane Society spokesperson, Scruffy was transported to the Society’s second-chance clinic along with three other cats. Doctors were available to treat only two. Pearson told The Arizona Republic:
The Humane Society took that cat with every intention of treating the cat and putting it in foster care. It was never intended for that cat to be euthanized.
This truly is a worst-case scenario … and it is one the Arizona Humane Society must deal with every day.
The Society has apologized to Dockery and said it will review its policy of not accepting credit cards over the telephone. But all of this is cold comfort for a man who has been deprived the companionship and love of his furry charge.
“Now I’ve got to think about how I failed that beautiful animal,” he is quoted as saying. “I failed her…. That’s so wrong. There was no reason for her not to be treated.”
As for the Humane Society, Dockery unselfishly notes, “I don’t want to turn people away from the Humane Society. They do good works.”
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