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Outrage after man's cat is euthanized over money

Outrage after man's cat is euthanized over money

Outraged donors have threatened to pull their support for the Humane Society after it euthanized the cat of a former heroin addict because he couldn't immediately pay $400 for its medical care.
The Arizona Republic newspaper reported that Daniel Dockery's 9-month-old cat, Scruffy, was put down because of the money issue, not because of cuts it got from a fence.
Dockery said he reluctantly surrendered the cat to the Humane Society on Dec. 8 after staff declined to take a credit card from his mother over the phone or wait 24 hours for her to wire him cash. They told him the cat would be treated only if he signed over ownership, he said.
Dockery searched for the cat for three weeks at agency shelters and repeatedly asked staff what had happened. He learned Tuesday that the cat was euthanized a few hours after he brought her in.
"Now I've got to think about how I failed that beautiful animal," Dockery said. "I failed her. ... That's so wrong. There was no reason for her not to be treated."
Humane Society spokeswoman Stacy Pearson said the agency took the cat intending to treat it and put it in foster care, but when she was taken to a second-chance clinic with three other cats, doctors were only available to treat two of them.
"It was never intended for that cat to be euthanized," she said. "This truly is a worst-case scenario ... and it is one the Arizona Humane Society must deal with every day."
Stacy Pearson, who was hired by the agency specifically to deal with media questions about the cat, said Dockery's case has led to two changes. The Arizona Humane Society has set up an account, funded through donations, that would cover the costs of emergency treatment of animals whose owners need a day or two to come up with money for payments. And the group is now accepting credit card payments by phone, Pearson said.
Dockery, a recovering heroin addict with a lengthy prison record, said Scruffy had been his closest companion and helped him stay off drugs.
Dockery's mother, Donna Koning, said she believes that when her son told the Humane Society workers that he didn't have a real job, they assumed he was homeless and couldn't care for an animal.
"Don't you have enough animals in the shelter that you would not want to take a beloved pet from someone who clearly cares for it?" she asked.
A newspaper story on Saturday about Dockery's search for Scruffy led to an outpouring of support, as more than 150 people emailed and called to offer Dockery financial help, new kittens and free veterinarian services.
Residents also expressed outrage on the Humane Society's Facebook page, which was flooded with messages from donors threatening to pull donations.