Hold the Buffalo Animal Shelter Accountable for Unlawfully Executing Gizmo, Beloved Cat

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Hold the Buffalo Animal Shelter Accountable for Unlawfully Executing Gizmo, Beloved Cat

This petition had 2,372 supporters
Justice for Gizmo started this petition to Director, Buffalo Animal Shelter Kelly McCartney and

Our beloved cat Gizmo was killed by the Buffalo Animal Shelter. We demand answers, accountability, and adequate remedies. This is his story:

On Saturday, August 20, 2016, our cat Gizmo, aged 9, approx. 10lbs, and part of a family of dozens of people across the globe, was taken to the Buffalo Animal Shelter where he was unlawfully murdered shortly after he arrived.

Gizmo's home was on 16th Street, Buffalo, New York, where he had a loving family, including a 12-year old boy and his best friend Sadie, another cat. He would often go outside. Together they would roam freely about two houses in either direction. They were so cautious that they rarely crossed the street.  

Gizmo had really travelled the world. He was born and lived for several years in Israel, where he nearly died from a tick bite and we carefully nursed back to health through weeks of intensive care and love. He then came to live in our home Brooklyn, a home filled with intense joy, love and laughter. Then, finally, he came to Buffalo in June 2016, where his dream came true of being with another cat and having the freedom to explore safely outside.

He was neutered and had a chip implant. 

On Saturday, August 20th, he was taken to the Shelter by someone who thought he was a stray. A fellow cat lover, she meant well and did what she thought was appropriate. At the Buffalo Animal Shelter, she asked them if it was a "no-kill" shelter, they said yes. (On the volunteer run Facebook page for the Shelter, they said "We make no claims to be no-kill"). She also gave them her information and told them to call her if Gizmo could not be adopted, or if any issues arose. They never called.

Sometime shortly after, we think on the same day, Gizmo was murdered.

Gizmo and Sadie would often hide in the big house where they lived. Sometimes they would come and go and no one would notice, or they would be up in the attic. On Tuesday we began searching for him. On Wednesday, we put up signs four blocks in either direction and in local shops. Everyone knew Gizmo by his Siamese baby-cry meow, his bright blue eyes, or his perfect fur and presentation. Everyone said that they knew he was not a stray—he was too beautiful. That same day, I went door to door asking people about him. I met a woman who said she had taken a cat to the Shelter matching his description, thinking he was a stray (sadly, she had not seen Gizmo before and apparently many strays are present on the street).

I rushed to the Shelter where I asked them if any cats had come in over the weekend. I knew that they were supposed to hold the cats that came in for at least 72 hours, business days only, so he should still be there. I was taken to one of the cat rooms, at that time I didn't know that there were two. Gizmo was not there. Two people told me no cats had come in over the weekend and also said if Gizmo had come in they would remember, as he is so beautiful.

I talked again to the woman who turned him in and she said perhaps one of the city rescues picked him up as they often do when the Shelter is full. Full of excitement that I would find him the next day, I planned to go to every rescue in the area and even show up with a collar with Gizmo's name on it. First, however, I thought it would be smart to stop by the Shelter and see which rescues they work with, so I'd have some leads.

When I arrived at the Shelter, I was told again that they would remember such a beautiful cat and there's no way that he would have come in and not be here. I went again to look in the back and Gizmo was not there. I told the people at the front desk that I would not leave until they went through every record. After some hesitation and unwillingness, they did and again found nothing. Then, finally, the man who I spoke to first on Wednesday, who told me that he would "never forget" such a cat, said "oh yeah, we euthanized that one, he was really dangerous." He said he was also working Saturday, the day that Gizmo was brought in. When I asked for Gizmo's records, the director of the Shelter told me "it's private, you can request through the FOIL process." I was reluctantly given a copy of his intake card, with minimal identifying information and ID #33259604. No apology, no condolences.

We later found out over the phone that Gizmo was murdered because he was "too dangerous," that they would "not be able to clean his cage." They told us that we were "overreacting."

The Shelter cannot claim that he was feral as he had a chip implant. Either they failed to check, or checked and failed to care.

The Buffalo Animal Shelter seemed horrible. It was filthy when I got there. Cats were in cages with dried vomit. It smelled like feces and death. There were dogs there that were well over 60lbs and very aggressive. 

Why do these dogs get to have their cages cleaned and survive, while a perfectly groomed domesticated tiny cat is dead? Dogs and cats are treated differently. If the Shelter can't handle a little cat, they should not be open. If they can euthanize him, they can equally sedate him to clean his cage. 

I have filed a formal Freedom of Information Law request for Gizmo's records and other facility records. The New York State Department of Agriculture has also committed to investigate the facility.

Section 374, Article 26 of NYS Agriculture and Markets Law mandates a five day waiting period for adoption or "destruction" of animals found or lost, except if the animal is terminally ill or a danger to public safety. Careful records must be kept. The Shelter failed on all accounts.

We demand the following:

1. A full accounting of what happened to Gizmo, including records of intake and veterinary records, and who was involved.

2. That the Shelter take full responsibility for what happened to Gizmo. That we have a dialogue.

3. A clear, public, statement of their policies for taking in stray cats, including clear guidelines for when, how, why they are euthanized.

4.  A full investigation by the Mayor of Buffalo, Byron Brown, into abuses at this Shelter and any complaints filed therein.

5. A law in Albany protecting the rights of cats specifically, Gizmo's Law. Currently, laws exist specifically naming dogs, but not for cats. According to the ASPCA, cat owners tend to wait 3 days before searching for their pet, this must not be a license to kill by the State.

The Buffalo Animal Shelter saves the lives of many animals, but the treatment of Gizmo raises real concerns about how the Shelter is managed. Without a doubt Gizmo was unlawfully, intentionally/negligently, and shamefully murdered.

We also suspect that if Gizmo was not marked as living on 16th Street in the West Side, a neighborhood known for newly arrived refugees and low-income minority communities, that the Shelter would have thought twice before taking his life. That they assumed no one would care or have the ability to follow up.

He was loved by so many. He was our best friend. He was our family. Thousands of people have already come out in empathy, fury, and solidarity, both through personal communication and through social media.

This could happen to anyone's animal companion: taken to a shelter, placed into these conditions, it's no surprise one would be angry and upset. All it takes is one shelter employee to say he or she is more easily put down than cared for properly.

We won't rest until there is #JusticeForGizmo, and all beings held at the Buffalo Animal Shelter and other shelters.

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