A former employee at an Indiana animal shelter says management asked her to kill sick or injured cats by putting them into a freezer.
Bridget Woodson says she was asked to freeze cats to death on two separate occasions during the three and a half months she worked at the Spencer County Animal Shelter in Chrisney, local news station WEVV reports. She said she refused on both occasions.
The Spencer County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation into the allegations but turned the case over the to the state to prevent potential conflicts of interest. However, detective Chris King of the sheriff’s office told Tristate Homepage that, based on several witness reports, the shelter did indeed kill animals by freezing them alive in at least two instances. On one of those occasions, four kittens were frozen, King said.
Phone calls to the Spencer County Animal Shelter from HuffPost went unanswered. But the Spencer County Animal Control Board, which oversees the shelter, released a statement to local outlet 14 News, acknowledging that “actions have occurred that are fundamentally opposed to that mission.”
The statement says that, in response, the board has “carefully reviewed its policies and has adopted new policies and procedures to address these unacceptable actions.”
Woodson wrote on Facebook that her last day at the shelter was Aug. 11. She said she hadn’t spoken out before then for fear of retaliation from management.
She told WEVV that she felt “sick to her stomach” after being asked to put live cats in the freezer, stuffed inside trash bags with no sedation.
The first time, Woodson’s boss suggested freezing a severely injured kitten, she says, but gave her the option of taking the cat to a vet to be euthanized there, which she did.
The second time, she says, her boss told her to put a cat into the freezer and did not present it as an option. Woodson wanted to take the cat to a vet instead. She posted a screenshot on Facebook of what she says is a text conversation with her boss. In the screenshot, Woodson wrote that she was going to take the cat to the vet and the shelter could take the cost out of her paycheck, if necessary.
“That’s fine but so you know, the freezer option is no less humane,” her boss replied.
That is not true. The American Veterinary Association’s euthanasia guidelines for companion animals specifically state that hypothermia is an “unacceptable method.”
Animal welfare organizations, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, typically say euthanasia of pets and shelter animals should be by injection of sodium pentobarbital, administered only by trained professionals and performed only when necessary.
Woodson emphasized to WEVV that she does not think it’s in the community’s best interest for the shelter to shut down completely. Instead, she wants to see an overhaul in shelter policies, as well as in its board and management.
“This is the only shelter resource in this town and for many surrounding towns,” she said. “I don’t want it closed.”