Authorities are investigating an Indiana animal shelter accused of animal abuse after an employee came forward with information indicating management intended to euthanize a still-alive kitten by placing it in the freezer rather than use traditional methods.
Bridget Woodson told a local news outlet that she worked at the shelter for 3.5 months. During that time, she says management asked her on two separate occasions to put a live cat, and later a kitten, into a plastic bag and then into the freezer to kill them. Both times the veterinary office was still open.
“I’m super concerned about the animals," Woodson told the Courier & Press after quitting her job. "If this is deemed as acceptable and no one is held accountable, what else will start to slip through the cracks?”
The first incident allegedly took place after Woodson had been working at the shelter for a month. She says she was asked to put an injured cat in the freezer or to take it to the vet, which she chose to do instead. The second time occurred on July 31 when Woodson says she was asked to put an injured kitten in the freezer even though it was still able to use its body to move around.
“[The shelter officer] told me to put it in the freezer,” Woodson told the publication. “I told her it was still moving around, and she told me to still do it. I took it to the vet on my own and told them that if the money was the problem they could bill me.”
The publication reportedly saw a text message conversation between Woodson and the shelter officer.
“Hey, I took the cat to the vet and had to put it down,” Woodson wrote in the exchange. “You can take the cost out of my paycheck if that’s a problem. I will not be putting live animals in the freezer if there’s another option available, please don’t ask me to do that again.”
The officer responded that Woodson’s decision was fine and that the “freezer option is no less humane.” The American Veterinary Medical Association, on the other hand, says in its Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals that hypothermia is an “unacceptable approach to euthanasia”.
Pet euthanasia is essentially an overdose of anesthesia. In most cases, veterinarians administer a large dose of seizure medication called pentobarbital that renders the animal unconscious and shuts down its heart and brain functions within a few minutes. Euthanasia is often a pain-free process, whereas freezing to death is not. Like people, animals suffer from hypothermia and frostbite when they are in an environment that is too cold for them to survive.
A statement released by the county animal control board acknowledges that “actions have occurred that are fundamentally opposed to [their] mission,” and that they are reviewing current policies and adopting new ones. The Courier & Press reports that calls and a text to the officer and the shelter went unanswered and that the shelter’s Facebook page has since been taken down.
The case has been handed from the sheriff’s office to the state police due to a conflict of interest.
[H/T: Courier & Press]