The Humane Society of Indianapolis has admitted it mistakenly euthanized a lost dog recently without making an attempt to contact the pet’s owner.
On Sunday, May 7, a 16-year-old English springer spaniel belonging to Indianapolis resident Kim Gastineau was brought to the Humane Society on Michigan Road after a neighbor found the dog in her yard. Prior to taking the dog to the shelter, the neighbor called the phone number engraved on a brass tag riveted to the collar, but because Gastineau was out looking for the dog, she got his answering machine. Unable to keep the dog herself, she took him to the Humane Society at 4 p.m.
Gastineau’s search for his dog Spencer brought him to the Humane Society at approximately 4:30 p.m. Despite it being the end of the business day, Gastineau was able to talk to several employees. “I told them about Spencer and showed them his picture. After a moment or two they assured me that he was not there and that I should check the Web site. I left and continued my search.”
Three days later Gastineau learned the truth. At 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, 90 minutes after he was brought in, and an hour after Gastineau came looking for Spencer, the dog was euthanized without any employee of the Humane Society calling either the home or business phone numbers listed on Spencer’s collar.
The Humane Society maintains that the dog was killed out of compassion. “Upon physical examination, staff discovered a softball-sized tumor under his tail and blood coming from his rectum,” according to a press release posted on the shelter’s Web site. “After checking for a microchip or collar tags, which were not found, the dog was humanely euthanized Sunday evening.”
Gastineau admits that Spencer had a cancerous tumor and was receiving medical attention, but any concern for the animal’s health could have been addressed if employees had simply called him. Additionally, no veterinarian examined Spencer at the Humane Society before staff members made the decision to destroy the dog.
CEO Martha Boden has admitted that the identification was overlooked in the 90 minutes between Spencer’s arrival at the Humane Society and his death. Director of Development Cassie Hall also admitted a mistake was made, but stressed that concern for Spencer was the overriding cause. “They were so concerned with the pain the dog was in that they overlooked the collar,” Hall said.
“The fact that I had been there every day for three days looking for him and that they denied having him was an egregious act of negligence,” Gastineau maintains. “The Humane Society takes in stray animals and destroys them with no way for the owners to claim them or identify them before or after they are destroyed.”
According to their press release, “Humane Society CEO Martha Boden has conveyed to the owner how terribly sorry she is that HSI staff didn’t see the tag and attempt to contact the owner before the dog was humanely euthanized.”