- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2016

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - The Hawaii Island Humane Society is defending its decision to euthanize a cat after its former owner complained on social media.

Alexis Boyett surrendered her 1-year-old cat, Pesh, to HIHS’s Keaau shelter, reported The Hawaii Tribune-Herald (https://bit.ly/1Y4ow1A). Boyett said Pesh was originally a stray, but she had the animal sterilized and treated for fleas and played with her daily.

She said a shelter employee told her, “‘It will be fine. As long as she’s friendly and she has no diseases, we’ll put her up for adoption.’”

But Boyett said she called the next day and the shelter said Pesh had been determined to be unfit for adoption and euthanized.

Pesh “wasn’t even given a chance,” Boyett said. “I feel like I was lied to, I feel like they tricked me. Whether or not I signed a paper, this was a living animal that’s obviously loved. If they were willing to help her out, they would have at least called and said, hey, we don’t have room, are you sure you want to drop her off - our euthanasia rate is very high.”

Boyett posted her concerns on social media. She says Pesh was not aggressive.

According to a statement from HIHS Executive Director Donna Whitaker, Pesh’s behavior did not meet socialization standards. Whitaker said HIHS evaluates and tests arriving animals as soon as possible and quickly euthanizes unsocialized cats.

Furthermore, Boyett relinquished her legal rights by surrendering Pesh, according Inga Gibson, Hawaii state director of the Humane Society of the United States. Her organization is not affiliated with HIHS.

“It’s standard practice. When someone surrenders, they won’t be contacted,” said Gibson. “That’s why (surrendering) is a pretty serious decision.”

Gibson said, however, that cats should be held a minimum of 24 hours after a surrender. She said that’s the recommended practice even though it is not mandated by state law or HIHS’s contract with the county.

She said Boyett’s situation could be an opportunity for the shelter to make changes.

“Regardless of the details, should something have been done different to prevent this? What was the miscommunication?” said Gibson. “You don’t want something like this to happen.”

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, https://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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