Shelter admits putting down cat was mistake

Woman angry her rescued cat was euthanized before she could pick it up

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A St. Johns County woman says she was horrified to learn that her cat of four years had been put down by an animal control facility less than an hour after it was found safe in the engine of a rental car.

Chelsea Santoro said her cat, Tails, went missing Monday and that she had placed posters in her St. Augustine neighborhood in hopes of finding her cat.

She told News4Jax that her cat never wandered off, but that while she was having work done inside of her home, Tails walked away and ended up in the engine of her neighbor's rental car.

Santoro says a worker at Ford Bozard -- 12 miles away -- found the cat and took the animal to the St. Johns County Animal Shelter.

Santoro says when she learned about the cat being found, she was excited and called the shelter, only to find out Tails had been put down.

Santoro said the cat was neutered and declawed, so someone at the shelter should have known Tails had an owner.

"I was horrified when I found out," said Santoro. "It just made no sense at all because he was perfectly safe and it was supposed to be a miracle story that he survived a trip in the engine and then was reunited with his owner. There's just no reason for this type of outcome."

The St. Johns County Animal Shelter admits that putting the cat down was a mistake.

"Our initial inquiry into this incident indicates that the county's policies and procedures were not followed, and there was no justification for the actions that occurred, said Michael Ryan, St. Johns County's communication manager. "The issue is currently under investigation and the employee in question has been placed on administrative leave. Appropriate measures will be taken to prevent this from occurring again. The loss of a pet under any circumstances is tragic and our condolences are extended to the family."

Santoro said she hopes her loss brings awareness to people about the importance of people helping others get back their missing pets quickly so something like this doesn't happen again.