Last Update: 11/21/2017 4:04:00 PM
Fleetwood couple find pet cat dead at Animal Rescue League
Euthanization follows similar incident at shelter in October
Cumru Township, Pa. - Samantha Curran's pet, Sir Didymus, may have been named for a puppet fox-terrier character in the cult movie "Labyrinth," but by all accounts he was a happy and friendly American shorthair cat.
Curran, 23, and her boyfriend, Cody Lesher, 26, of Fleetwood had adopted the nearly 3-year-old "Diddy" in January at the Animal Rescue League of Berks County in Birdsboro, quickly falling in love with the cat.
Less than a year later, the couple would tragically find themselves back at the ARL, being told by shelter officials the cat had been euthanized.
The loss of Diddy comes on the heels of another incident last month in which an Exeter Township kindergartner's cat named Violet was put down for "aggressive behavior."
"I just don't want this to happen to anyone else," Curran said Tuesday. "I feel like it happened so easily for my cat, that it's probably happening all the time."
Curran's tragedy began at noon Sunday when Diddy escaped her apartment, which she said was a common occurrence. Diddy would usually return when she would stand in the yard and call his name.
Curran worried when Diddy hadn't returned Monday morning, so she contacted the pet microchip company to notify it that the cat was missing and found out his chip hadn't been scanned.
What the couple didn't know was that neighbors less than a block away had found Diddy hiding in their garage, and since it was going to be a cold night, they decided to take him to the ARL.
Curran said she discovered through local lost pet pages on social media that the neighbors had found Diddy and where he was. She had to wait to get to the shelter first thing Tuesday morning because the ARL is closed Mondays.
Curran and Lesher were told by shelter workers that Diddy wasn't registered in the ARL's system and that a cat of Diddy's description had not been dropped off.
They went home, collected paperwork from their adoption at the ARL and spoke with the neighbors who had found the cat. The woman's daughter had a video of the cat, which confirmed it was Diddy.
By Tuesday afternoon, the couple were back at the ARL, sharing that certainty with staff. Curran said they were pulled into an office and assured a search was being made. Told that if a cat shows any behavioral problems within 24 hours, it must be destroyed, Curran began to focus her questions on Diddy.
She was told he had displayed aggressive tendencies and had been euthanized.
A technician had scanned Diddy's lifeless body and only then found his microchip.
Tom Hubric, interim executive director of the ARL, said Tuesday that the euthanization of Diddy was a result of "human error." He said the cat had been scanned twice by technicians, but that the rice-sized microchip had moved farther up his neck from where it is usually placed between the shoulder blades and was not found until it was too late.
Hubric said since the October euthanization, the shelter has instituted new procedures requiring a discussion among several staff so that a similar incident wouldn't happen again.
A discussion about Diddy was held Monday afternoon, Hubric said, and a consensus was formed to euthanize Diddy because he was "becoming aggressive" and technicians weren't able to put food or water in his cage.
Asked how many cats have been euthanized because of aggressive behavior, Hubric said he didn't know.
"The last thing any of our staff wants to do is euthanize an animal, especially with what just happened with Violet," Hubric said. "This is not good."
Curran said she was offered a free cat to adopt at the shelter on Tuesday, but the gesture was little consolation for her loss. She said she also worries about how many other family pets may have met the same fate as Diddy.
"People feel it's comforting to be able to take stray animals to somewhere like the Animal Rescue League, and now you have to worry something like this is going to happen," Curran said. "I just think it's crazy that it's a judgment call after 24 hours; you get to judge an animal after a 24 hour hold period. So I feel like my cat didn't stand a chance."
Contact Michael Yoder: 610-371-5033 or firstname.lastname@example.org.