Monday, January 9, 2012

Cat issue at Wed. City Council mtg in Woodbury

Woodbury pet advocates decry cat's killing after owner's death
Article by: TIM HARLOW , Star Tribune
Updated: January 9, 2012 - 7:24 PM

Humane Society euthanized diabetic gray tabby in December. Advocates contend the city and the society did not follow state law.

Woodbury police took Jimmy to the Humane Society on Dec. 7.

. The death of a cat named Jimmy has pet advocates in Woodbury demanding changes in how the city deals with pets who have no one to look after them after their owners die.

They plan to speak out at Wednesday's City Council meeting because, they say, the city and the Animal Humane Society are not following state law.

"Jimmy would still be alive if Minnesota state statutes were followed," said Woodbury resident Debbie Long, who is organizing the rally. "We need these statutes enforced to protect animals to be sure they are taken care of."

The outcry stems from a December case in which the Humane Society euthanized a diabetic gray tabby cat whose owner had died. Her will stated that the cat should have gone to a no-kill shelter in Hastings.

Woodbury police took the cat to the Humane Society on Dec. 7. Police identified the deceased woman's estranged daughter as the rightful owner, and the society called her four days later. Ray Aboyan, the society's CEO, says the daughter gave the society permission to euthanize the cat, which the society could not place because of its condition.

Meanwhile, the executive director of Hastings' Animal Ark Shelter learned of the cat owner's death and called police to find out where Jimmy was. Mike Fry said he was concerned because the cat needed insulin. He also was its new guardian, according to the woman's will.

Fry contacted the Humane Society on Dec. 14 to learn that Jimmy had been killed.

State law requires shelters to hold stray animals for five days or until the owner comes forward, or 10 days if animals are victims of abuse, neglect or cruelty. Here, semantics come into play.

Aboyan said the Humane Society viewed Jimmy as a stray and held him for the required five days. Fry disagreed, saying Jimmy was a victim of neglect, which "can sometimes be unintentional," such as in the case of an owner's death, and thus should have been held 10 days. That would have been long enough for Fry, who was authorized by the woman's will to make decisions about Jimmy.

"Woodbury residents are upset because [the woman's] wishes were not carried out and the law was not followed," Fry said.

Aboyan said the Humane Society didn't know that Animal Ark was the cat's rightful owner. If it had known, "we would not have killed the cat," he said. "This is an unfortunate outcome. We were acting with the information we had. We followed the law."

Tim Harlow • 651-925-5039 Twitter: @timstrib

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