LPD called for euthanasia due to no medication at animal shelter; cat shot four times

Published 10:15 am Friday, July 5, 2024

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A cat brought into the LaGrange Animal Shelter for euthanasia was shot four times by a LaGrange Police Officer. The cat was brought in after it had been hit by a car and its owner was unable to pay for vet expenses. 

LDN received an email with a news tip from the animal organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) in June about an incident occurring at the shelter on May 24. The organization was contacted by a witness at the shelter, who was not identified. However, Chief Garret Fiveash of the LaGrange Police Department has confirmed the information.

After the animal was dropped off at the shelter for euthanasia, the tip stated an employee placed the carrier outside for multiple hours in 85-degree heat without water. 

After some time the witness reported an LPD officer used their gun to shoot into the carrier four times. 

Fiveash sent out a statement that said that the officer was called to the scene by the Animal Control Supervisor. The supervisor then called a doctor who is contracted with LPD for veterinary services. 

According to the statement, “The doctor further stated that they did not have the euthanasia

medications with them but that the animal did need to be euthanized to prevent further suffering.”

“Our Animal Control Supervisor, in conjunction with the veterinarian’s opinion, felt this to be the most humane manner of handling the situation to prevent prolonged suffering. There are some details in question which our internal investigation is addressing,” Fiveash stated. 

When the witness reached out to PETA, the group filed a complaint to the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA), which handles animal welfare complaints. The group’s complaint was that “Using a gunshot to kill animals at sheltering and control facilities is prohibited by state law, which mandates euthanasia via injection,” as stated in the email. 

Teresa Chagrin, an Animal Care and Control Issues Manager at PETA, said that non-injection euthanasia is only allowed in extraordinary circumstances.

“Where the dog or cat poses an extreme risk or danger to the veterinarian, physician or layperson performing euthanasia, and then such person is allowed to use another procedure that is considered humane,” Chagrin stated. 

However, she said, “This cat was in a carrier, completely confined. The cat was injured. The cat was, according to the witness… was a very friendly cat that someone brought in.”

The PETA representative acknowledged that sometimes if an animal is suffering and there is no clinic or viable way for euthanasia and an animal is suffering then a gunshot could be a humane option, however, took issue with the amount of shots and that the witness alleged the employee did not check the cat was dead before putting it into a trash bag and taking it inside the facility. 

Chagrin said that PETA has offered to fund more training for animal control officers on proper methods of euthanasia.

“Animal control officers across Georgia and across the country, every single day, are able to humanely contain and euthanize all kinds of animals,” Chagrin said. “Including those who are extremely aggressive and posing a danger to people without resorting to a spray of bullets.”

Fiveash said an LPD investigation is still ongoing as is the investigation by the GDA.