A cat that helped a Phoenix man overcome his heroin addiction was euthanized just hours after he brought it to an Arizona Humane Society for treatment of a laceration.
Humane Society officials confirmed Tuesday that the 9-month-old cat, named Scruffy, was put down not because of its wounds, but because its owner could not immediately pay for its care.
Scruffy's owner, Daniel Dockery, who had been searching for the cat since taking it to the Humane Society's Campus for Compassion on West Dobbins Road three weeks ago, said he was devastated.
"Now I've got to think about how I failed that beautiful animal," Dockery, 49, said. "I failed her. ... That's so wrong. There was no reason for her not to be treated."
Dockery said he surrendered ownership of Scruffy on Dec. 8 after clinic officials declined to take a credit card from his mother over the phone or wait 24 hours for cash. He said staff told him Scruffy would be treated only if he signed over ownership.
A story about Dockery's search for Scruffy on Saturday in The Arizona Republic led to an outpouring of support. In more than 150 e-mails and phone calls, residents offered Dockery financial help, new kittens and free veterinarian services.
"The treatment of Mr. Dockery and his cat, Scruffy, was extremely sad and made me very angry at the lack of compassion he received," Andrea Peterssen wrote in an e-mail. "This type of situation tarnishes the reputation of all the good people who work and volunteer (at the Humane Society)."
Residents also expressed outrage on the Humane Society's Facebook page, which was flooded with messages from donors threatening to pull donations and demanding that Dockery be reunited with Scruffy.
A Humane Society spokeswoman said Tuesday that a lack of resources led to Scruffy's fate. She said staff members did not want to publicly discuss the issue before now because they had no way to reach Dockery.
"The Humane Society took that cat with every intention of treating the cat and putting it in foster care," Stacy Pearson said. "It was never intended for that cat to be euthanized."
Pearson said Scruffy was transported to the Humane Society's second-chance clinic along with three other cats; doctors were available to treat only two.
"This truly is a worst-case scenario ... and it is one the Arizona Humane Society must deal with every day," Pearson said.
She said if Dockery paid for the treatment or the clinic had accepted the credit card by phone, Scruffy would not have gone to the second-chance clinic.
On Friday, the Humane Society said it will review its credit-card policy.
That was little solace for Dockery, who credits Scruffy with helping him maintain sobriety after a lifetime of heroin addiction. Dockery, who has an extensive prison record, said he raised Scruffy from birth.
Despite his anger, Dockery is encouraging people not to pull funding from the Humane Society.
"I don't want to turn people away from the Humane Society," he said. "They do do good works."source