A CAT NAMED LILY and the Truth About the ARIZONA HUMANE SOCIETY
A message from Barbara Morris, President
Update note: Since this tragic incident that occurred right before Thanksgiving 2013, the new director at the AHS, Dr. Steve Hansen, has made significant staff changes and implemented new policies and procedures to try to prevent this type of tragedy, along with other incidents involving rescued animals unacceptable by the rescue community, from happening again. We are happy that Dr. Hansen is trying to make the AHS a more transparent and compassionate shelter and hope the trend continues, and have removed prior opening comments on this page. Nevertheless, I will never forget Lily and her story will remain on our website as a reminder to pet owners not to turn pets into the Humane Society or County shelters (Phoenix area) - as they are not no-kill, and that if you are having behavioral issues with your pet, please seek advice from your vet or contact a no-kill rescue group (or KTN) for help on how to correct such issues rather than surrendering your pet.
Lily was a friendly, pretty 4-year-old cat whose owner wanted to get rid of her because she was peeing on her carpet. Lily's owner contacted a no-kill rescue group days before Thanksgiving saying they had been dealing with the situation for months, and that although Lily was a great cat, they could not tolerate the situation any longer, and she had to go by Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, because they “had plans.” Her email was circulated amongst the no-kill rescue community that weekend and some who had received it contacted the owner telling her there could be reasons and solutions for the problem. Because I am experienced with behaviorally-challenged cats, I decided I would offer to take Lily if no other group had. I sent her an email Tuesday morning, but it arrived too late to save Lily. When I did not hear from the owner, I called. She told me she had just taken Lily to the Humane Society. Aghast, I asked her what she told them, knowing that any indication of a behavior problem was a death sentence. She told me she had only said “their situation had changed.” Thinking then there might be a chance to still save her, I frantically shot out an email to all my rescue friends who partner with the AHS to see if anyone could get her out of there right away. But after several inquiries that afternoon and the next morning, all we were told was that “Lily wasn’t there.” We concluded that meant she had been euthanized. I was devastated, knowing that if I had sent my email sooner, Lily might be alive and safe in our sanctuary. I cried all afternoon at work, sad and angry beyond belief at the cold-heartedness of Lily’s owner, as well as the Humane Society. How could do they do such a thing to a young, healthy, sweet animal, based on what some low-life, irresponsible and callous person tells them? A couple days later though, I got emails from some of the rescuers who had been involved, questioning whether she had been killed or not, since apparently there had been other instances where rescuers were told the same thing, only to actually find the dog or cat that was supposedly euthanized. So, out went more emails and people trying to help find her or get an answer. If there was even a shred of hope that she was alive, I wanted to save her -- no matter what the cost. But sadly after days of anguish, tears, searching the facilities and website, and phone calls to try to get the truth from someone and never getting a straight answer, we were finally able to learn from a source who had to remain anonymous that Lily had, indeed, been euthanized immediately upon intake from the owner who told them that the cat was peeing on everything! She lied to me, she lied to them, and the AHS killed a perfectly friendly, healthy pretty little cat based on what some lying, cold-hearted self-centered person tells them. THIS IS WRONG!!! And the fact that their staff is instructed not to admit what happened proves that THEY KNOW IT WAS WRONG. The AHS has a duty to evaluate a healthy, friendly animal and not base their decision on what a pet owner says, and to give that animal a chance to be adopted or rescued. They did neither of these things with poor Lily.
This tragedy really upset me and started a whirlwind of emails among a group of rescuers who have had other bad experiences with the AHS over the years of animals being euthanized immediately upon intake, shrouding their conduct in secrecy and not communicating with the rescuers who often are willing to take in the animals the AHS doesn't want. They want the cream of the crop only. We are all determined to make the public aware of these unacceptable and disturbing practices and try to get the Humane Society to change their ways.
And while, we acknowledge that the AHS does save and help a lot of animals, they also mislead the public into thinking they are so compassionate and caring, that pets will be safe with them, and even their website is vague and not forthcoming about the reality of their practices. Working with ferals, I have told people for years to never, ever take a feral cat or even kittens there, as they would be euthanized immediately. Others have reported to us about entire litters of rescued puppies being euthanized immediately and other insensitive and cruel actions. THIS IS NOT HUMANE AND THE PUBLIC NEEDS TO KNOW. Changes need to be made at the Arizona Humane Society immediately and I would advise anyone making contributions to stop doing so now or to remove a bequest to them in a will or trust until acceptable changes are made.
Lily’s story is just one tragic incident that goes on all the time there. Don’t let her unjustified and needless death be in vain. Please join Kind to Nature and other caring rescuers in the Valley in making the public aware of the truths and trying to make changes at the AHS.
BLESS YOU LILY - You will never be forgotten.