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Citizens file county complaint after cat euthanized

Group says a rescuer was on the way; county says deadline wasn’t met

Posted: February 28, 2013 5:46 p.m.
Updated: February 28, 2013 5:46 p.m.
Bella Bella

Several cat-lovers are requesting Los Angeles County officials investigate the euthanasia of a cat at the Castaic Animal Care Center last weekend, alleging the act was misguided and unnecessary.

At least four individuals contacted the Los Angeles County Office of County Investigations to ask for an official review of the matter, according to emails forwarded to The Signal this week.

The Office of County Investigations confirmed it received the complaints. Personnel will review the allegations to see if they merit further investigation.

The allegations surround a cat named Bella, who was euthanized at 5 p.m. Saturday. Bella was delivered to the Castaic shelter Feb. 9 by owners who said they were allergic to the cat, said Evelina Villa, a spokeswoman for the county Department of Animal Care and Control.

That same day, Bella bit someone who was working at the shelter and attacked a second person, Villa said.
Because of this, the cat was designated “rescue-only,” meaning only recognized animal-rescue organizations could adopt her from the shelter, Villa said.

The cat also later developed a respiratory infection while at the shelter, Villa said Thursday.

A rescue organization contacted the shelter about adopting Bella but its members never followed through by arriving at the shelter to collect the animal, Villa said.

She said the shelter extended the adoption deadline for Bella twice before making the decision to euthanize.

“We gave the organization ample opportunities to come and get this cat and they did not follow through on their commitment,” Villa said.

But Bridget Alves, a former county shelter volunteer, tells a different story.

Alves is involved with a group called Pet Connect.US, which organizes adoptions in Southern California. She said multiple rescue agencies contacted officials at the Castaic shelter to express interest in adopting Bella.

Among those was a group called Helping Persian Cats.

The group reached an agreement Saturday to adopt the cat and pick her up the next day, Alves said. But the agency received a call Saturday that Bella was scheduled to be euthanized later that day.

A representative from the group tried to drive from Tarzana in time to reach the shelter but was unable to do so, Alves said.

“Basically, they killed a cat with a rescue on the way,” she said. “It was wrong and inexcusable.”

Adrienne Hagen, who tried to make the trip from Tarzana in time, said she has never run into this kind of situation before.

Hagan did confirm the shelter had extended the adoption deadline prior to the cat being euthanized on Saturday.

“Usually they (shelters) are willing to work with you and they hold the cat until you can get there,” Hagen said.

According to state law, shelters must hold an animal for four to six business days before it can be euthanized.

Villa said the Castaic shelter has a good track record for pet adoptions. In the 2011-2012 fiscal year the shelter adopted out or returned to owners 1,167 cats and 2,488 dogs, while euthanizing 412 cats and 544 dogs, Villa said.

“We far exceeded what the law says,” Villa said. “We made every effort in this case and they didn’t show up, unfortunately, and we didn’t have the space.”
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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