01/11/2019

When The Shelter Sues To Take Your Pet Away

Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

This is a particularly sad story which likely strikes close to home for too many people. The Boston Globe has the tale of Pamela Howard, who had adopted her cat Muse from a shelter after it had been burned and injured in an abusive home. Her new furry family was getting along famously by all accounts until she was notified that the shelter was demanding she surrender the cat back to them.

[L]ast month, the adoption agency that handed Howard her beloved cat filed a lawsuit to take him back. There was no allegation that Howard abused or neglected Muse, or harmed him in any way.

But what she had done was take Muse outside to her backyard, on a leash, for less than five minutes, contrary to a contract Howard signed that included an agreement to keep Muse indoors.

Howard refused to give Muse back, and so far it has cost her $3,000 in legal fees.

“I’m his guardian and protector,” she said of Muse. “I could never give him up.”

This is a hard column to write because I am generally loathe to hurl any criticism at animal shelters. Having spent many years volunteering at one and adopting all of our animals from shelters for more than thirty years now, I know all the good work they do and the struggles these organizations face in terms of funding and resources. But it’s true that there are cases where shelters implement policies with the best of intentions but wind up enforcing them to the point of absurdity.

This woman was seen taking her cat outside for a walk for only five minutes and now the shelter wants to seize the cat. I fully understand and sympathize with the desire of shelters to only adopt out cats to homes where they will be kept indoors. Outdoor cats generally have a much harder life, a shorter life expectancy and poorer health. They are subject to predation, injuries from fighting, getting run over by cars or even being poisoned. But while most cats seem to hate being put on a leash (just ask Simon the cat), there are some who learn to go for walks

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