Cody Lesher was a responsible pet owner — he had his cat Diddy microchipped. But even this proactive step to protect his pet couldn’t save the feline.
On Sunday, Diddy ran away from the Berks County, Pennsylvania, home Lesher shares with his girlfriend, reports NBC New York. The cat had slipped out before, but had always returned, and Lesher knew Diddy had a microchip with all his information, so the owner was worried but not distraught.
As Lesher searched for Diddy, a good Samaritan in the area found the cat first and brought the pet to Animal Rescue League of Berks County. There, shelter workers scanned the cat for a microchip twice, but found nothing. Unsure if the new arrival had an owner or not, the rescue vaccinated Diddy and placed him in the cat housing area.
The next day, Diddy began to act aggressively toward the other cats and shelter workers, according Tom Hubric, the interim Executive Director of the shelter, who wrote a lengthy post about the incident on the rescue’s Facebook. After staff members searched social media and finding no pet owners looking for the orange-and-white feline, Hubric made the decision to euthanize Diddy.
Hubric claims he made this choice based on Diddy’s behavior and lack of owner information, and because Animal Rescue League of Berks County was overcrowded and he and his staff could not find another local rescue or foster with room for Diddy.
“It was a very difficult decision and one that I did not take lightly,” Hubric wrote.
Lesher, who knows Diddy as an affectionate pet, has a hard time believing Diddy was acting that aggressively. The owner did not discover his cat’s fate until Tuesday, when he stopped by the rescue, where he had adopted Diddy, to ask if the feline had been dropped off at the facility.
“When the owner informed us that the cat was originally adopted by us and it was microchipped, we did a third scan of the cat and found that the chip had migrated high up on his neck, likely close to the base of his skull and the two previous scans did not identify the microchip,” Hubric wrote, revealing that the third scan, this time of the cat’s dead boy, indeed showed Diddy was microchipped.
Lesher was understandably devastated to return to the place where he adopted Diddy only to find the staff had euthanized his pet. The owner told NBC New York he has spent the past few days crying over Diddy’s death and how the animal “didn’t deserve that.”
“It just seems like they’re not taking their job seriously. There definitely needs to be changes for sure.” Lesher told NBC New York .
In response to this tragic incident, Hubric posted an apology to Lesher and the community on the rescue’s Facebook. In the post he cites the changes he plans to make to the shelter, including an increase in their cat holding time and more staff training on how to scan animals for a microchip.
“I would like to apologize to the community for the terrible situation that has occurred and especially to the family who has been so profoundly affected. We will continue to work to make improvements with our procedures to do our very best to minimize the number of animals that are euthanized,” Hubric wrote in the closing of the apology post. “I would also like to again ask for your help. Please consider fostering, especially cats. We are overflowing and desperately need people to take cats into their homes to enable us to have space for additional animals.”