LAND O' LAKES, Florida - Debbie Patsos wants to know why Pasco County Animal Services found it necessary to euthanize her 10-year-old cat, Peggy, the same day a neighbor just four doors down found the pet meowing in his garage.
"When that person called me, I thought it was a cruel joke," said Patsos about the call she received from an Animal Services volunteer who notified her Peggy had been destroyed. "I thought there was no way someone could just kill a cat!"
Patsos said her neighbor didn't recognize Peggy after she got lost Saturday morning and thought the cat might have been injured because it walked with a limp. It turns out the cat was born with only three paws and was perfectly healthy.
"It was actually pretty agile. It came right up to me. It was a friendly," said Casey McCarthy, who lives four doors down and was the neighbor who called the county to report what he thought was an injured cat. "I'm beyond mad. First off, if anyone said, 'If the shelter takes it, they're going to euthanize it,' I would have said, 'Never mind.'"
But Peggy never made it to the shelter. According to an Animal Services report obtained by 10 News, the cat was euthanized on the spot by the animal control worker, who indicated the cat was unable to move its back legs.
"They're lying. They're lying flat out," said McCarthy, who claims the cat walked into the carrier without a problem.
"She walked into the cage. She walked in front of that officer," said Patsos, horrified to learn of her cat's fate.
10 News was unable to reach Pasco Animal Services late Tuesday, but Patsos and others vow to get answers.
"She was our family member," said Patsos. "She had a handicap which gave her character to us. It did not mean she was unadoptable or unlovable. It made her more lovable to us."
UPDATE: Following our story Tuesday night, Pasco County Animal Services released the following statement on the incident Wednesday:
On Saturday, July 6, Pasco County Animal Services was dispatched to Wilderness Lakes to meet with a citizen who requested assistance.
According to the report, the stray feline was in the citizen's garage, appeared to have been hit by a car, and was unable to use its rear legs.
The eight-year veteran Animal Control Officer examined the feline more closely and found that it's two rear legs had been injured by severe trauma. The officer explained to the neighbor that the animal may have to be euthanized based on established policy and on the injury sustained. The officer checked the feline for identification and no collar or tag was present and after scanning the animal no microchip was found.
Sadly, in order to prevent further suffering, the cat was humanly euthanized in the field.
According to Pasco County Animal Services Policy 3-002, the Pasco County Animal Services (PCAS) manager, staff veterinarian, and supervisors have full authority to authorize the humane euthanasia of a severely injured or ill animal. If the severely injured or ill animal is nonresponsive and has no traceable ID and no known owner, the Animal Control Officer may perform humane euthanasia in the field, documenting his/her findings thoroughly.
"The loss of a pet can be devastating under any circumstance." said Suzanne Salichs, Ph.D., Assistant County Administrator for Public Services. "We have policies and protocols in place to address cases such as this. We are conducting a thorough investigation to ensure our protocols were followed and to determine if any changes are needed."
Follow 10 News Reporter Beau Zimmer on twitter @Zimm10
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