Recovering Addict’s Therapy Kitten Euthanized

Daniel Dockery, of Phoenix, Arizona, started hand-feeding Scruffy even before she opened her eyes at 4 days old. He raised money to have Scruffy spayed. The kitten ate from fresh cans of tuna and slept on Dockery’s pillow at night.

Dockery is recovering from a 20-year heroin addiction and has a lengthy prison record; raising Scruffy, his closest companion for the past nine months, brought hope and joy back into his life and helped him maintain his sobriety.

On December 8, Dockery rushed his beloved kitten to the Arizona Humane Society’s Campus for Compassion in Phoenix, for treatment for injuries after she was cut on a barbed-wire fence. These were not life-threatening injuries, and were easily treatable.

Scruffy Euthanized Even Though She Was Not Seriously Injured

Two days after Christmas, officials confirmed that Scruffy was euthanized just hours after Dockery brought the cat in for treatment, not because of its wounds, but because its owner could not immediately pay for her care.

Dockery 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).”

Treatment Available For Two Cats; Scruffy Was The Third

Apparently Scruffy was transported to the Humane Society’s second-chance clinic along with three other cats; doctors were available to treat only two. So they killed her.

The clinic refused to accept Dockery’s mother’s credit card authorization by phone, saying they don’t accept credit cards. They also refused to wait, to give her time to wire the money needed to take care of Scruffy.

On Friday, the Humane Society said it will review its credit-card policy.

That was little solace for Scruffy’s owner, but despite his anger, Dockery is encouraging people not to pull funding from the Humane Society.

Please Take Action Now!

This is a horrible situation. It is also a series of events that surprises me. As the owner of several cats, I have always been impressed by the compassion shown by both the Humane Society and the ASPCA.

Still, even if this is an aberration, it is both tragic and cruel, especially in the light of Scruffy’s role as a therapy pet.

If you agree, please sign our petition to make Arizona a no-kill state to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again.

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Photo: Screenshot from news


SeattleAnn S.
Ann S5 years ago

This is a horrible thing for a "humane society" to do. They needlessly ended the life of a therapy cat and damaged the life of a human without any excuse at all. The decision makers for this should have their employment terminated.

Steve S.
Steve Sninsky5 years ago

What a sad story. An innocent animal is euthanized by an organization that is supposed to treat animals, and a recovering addict suffers the devastating loss of his beloved pet that may have been giving him hope for a new life. I can't even imagine what he is going through now. RIP Scruffy.

Marcia Machado
Marcia Machado5 years ago

So sad.
A institution like Humane Society can not treat an animal this way.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons5 years ago

Humane Society is just another for pay for profit system that cares very little for the pets they proclaim to be there for. Far to many of the animals they "rescue" end up being rescued to death.

Lika S.
Lika P5 years ago

Diane, those are awesome suggestions! :)

Carrie Anne Brown

signed, thanks for sharing :)

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

Another possibly remedy or suggestion for anyone else who finds themself in this poor man's situation is thru their neighborhood food bank or homeless shelter. Where I live, we have a food bank that works with many local businesses that donate bread, canned goods, etc., and Petco has a program where, when one pays $.75 for it, there is a wrapped can of catfood and a cat toy put into a bin to distribute THRU the food bank to those who have pets and can't afford to feed them. Yes, 75-cents is more than what a single can of Fancy Feast costs, but it also is wrapped and includes a toy, and you see it being put in a bin. Highly unlikely that money is going back into their cash drawer.

Maybe Petco, Petsmart or those places could offer free health care for needy pets thru their "Banfield" sites? Maybe those in need could sign up thru the food bank and prove "need" and they can coordinate the efforts?

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

Yes, well said, Lika! I don't "twitter" or participate much on Facebook. I'm now very suspicious of the security in Facebook considering all the recent hacking and links with Care.2. However, I have also heard/read that some adults have "twittered" offering to drive any teens who are out there drinking, with rides "questions asked". How wonderfulis that?

Why can't we figure out a way of networking where someone "in need", such as this man, can get temporary help/assistance with their pet, without having to feel forced or obliged to surrender all rights to that pet? I am not sure if I'd feel comfortable sending money to a complete stranger,but why can't we have, let's say, a Care.2 site where people could ask for help and maybe somebody here, maybe a moderator or volunteer, monitor it and take care of seeing that others could donate money directly to that person's shelter or clinic of choice? I see "alerts" all the time for requests for donations for a dog under threat of being put down that is a stray, or even already been euthanized. Why not have a site where we can just help another person with a temporary issue, such as this man and his cat? Look at the outpouring of offers for the Pitbull in Detroit, which had long since been put down?

Lika S.
Lika P5 years ago

Humane means you don't put down a living critter because of money issues. Thanks to them, this man may end up relapsing. To me, if the kitten was strong enough to clean him up, they could have done a double duty on humane treatment. Help an ex druggie stay clean AND give a kitten a good life.

Hypocritical that they would promote a spay/neuter & release for an outdoor cat, yet would put down a pet. ???

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright5 years ago

Where is the "humane" in humane society???? This is dispicable story........I pulled my support from The Humane Society a long time ago...thankfully. There is nothing humane about them.

This should be a wake up call for others to consider doing the same. There are more and more no kill shelters and groups who are compassionate and caring. This should NEVER have happened.

I hope those responsible rot in hell for all eternity. Shame on them. Karma will come back to them big time.