Not Every Cat has Nine Lives at AHS

The Animal Humane Society’s five area shelters provide impound services for over 20 cities in and around the metro area, including Afton, Minnesota. In September 2009, a group of Afton residents asked their City Council to review the animal control arrangement between Afton and AHS. This request arose from the discovery that in May 2009, seven cats were caught in live traps, taken to the AHS shelter in Woodbury, and euthanized the same day. By doing so, AHS failed to honor the five-day waiting period as required by Minnesota law. After looking into the matter, the Afton City Council voted unanimously to terminate its impound contract with AHS.

The immediate killing of the seven Afton cats was not an isolated incident. A response from AHS to a complaint filed by Animal Ark, the Animal Rights Coalition, and the No Kill Advocacy Center confirmed that AHS regularly kills strays they believe may be “feral” on arrival without holding them for the required period and without giving guardians of those cats an opportunity to find them. In fact, AHS admitted to killing about 500 cats this way in 2009.

Although AHS routinely kills “feral” cats upon arrival at their facilities, they have no established protocol for determining which cats are feral or which ones may simply be terrified companion animals. ARC, Animal Ark, and the No Kill Advocacy Center believe that guardians of shy, fearful, or unsocialized cats have as much right to reclaim their animals if they are impounded as do guardians of friendly cats.

There is no statutory language in the law that provides a basis for killing feral cats without holding them the required five days even in the unlikely event AHS staff could accurately determine which cats are feral. Additionally, there is nothing in state law that prohibits people from keeping outdoor or unsocialized cats.

Animal Ark, the Animal Rights Coalition, and the No Kill Advocacy Center are doing all we can to ensure that AHS follows state law and stops the practice of killing cats immediately upon arrival at their facilities. See Chronology of the Animal Humane Society Stray Cat Craziness for additional detail on this issue.