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9/5/2013 6:00:00 AM
Shelter euthanized dog as Kingman family searched for him
Workers at the Western Arizona Humane Society accidentally euthanized Thor, an American Bulldog that belonged to the Pruitt family in Kingman.
Workers at the Western Arizona Humane Society accidentally euthanized Thor, an American Bulldog that belonged to the Pruitt family in Kingman.
Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Natalie Pruitt went into Smith's Food & Drug on Stockton Hill Road at about 5 p.m. on Aug. 27 for an emergency restroom stop. She left her dog, Thor, in her SUV with the motor and air conditioner running.

Little did the Kingman woman realize neither she nor her six children and two grandchildren would ever again see the beloved family pet, an 8-month-old American Bulldog she said she purchased in California last February for $3,000.

Thor was dead within 24 hours, the victim of an unscheduled killing at the Western Arizona Humane Society.

"The puppy was accidentally euthanized," said shelter Chief Executive Officer Victoria Cowper. "From an organizational standpoint, this is the direct opposite of our goal, which is to save lives. We're all very heartbroken around here."

Here's how this sad story unfolded from Pruitt's perspective.

She said somebody stole Thor from her Dodge Durango while she went in to use the restroom.

"I never thought I'd come out and my truck would be there and my dog wouldn't," she said.

Pruitt notified Animal Control of the situation. The next day, she saw a post on that described her dog.

She called the woman who placed the ad, who told her Mohave County Animal Control picked up the animal, that she had male dogs and she was worried about Thor because he had a cut on his face.

Mohave County Sheriff's deputies confirmed the dog was picked up and delivered to the Western Arizona Humane Society, but workers there, said Pruitt, said they had not seen the dog.

Pruitt contacted other shelters in the area. None of them had a record of taking in Thor.

Three times a day for a week Pruitt went to the Western Arizona Humane Society to see if they found the dog.

"The humane society kept telling me to go to the sheriff's office and the sheriff's office told me to talk to the humane society," she said.

On Tuesday, Pruitt went to the shelter and was met by deputies, who searched the records and found the log that pertained to Thor.

The record showed he had been put down on Aug. 28, less than a day after someone took him from Pruitt's SUV.

"Thor was a loving dog," she said. "But he was a dummy. He would willingly go with somebody."

Her grandchildren, she said, are "devastated" by the news. She has a 15-year-old son who has autism and he has been particularly affected.

"Evan bonded with Thor," she said. "He hasn't said a word since we told him Thor wasn't coming home."

While Cowper said the Western Arizona Humane Society deeply regrets what happened, Pruitt is angry.

She said Cowper has been empathetic to the family, but other workers voiced no sympathy whatsoever.

She wants $5,000 to cover the cost of the dog and for "the pain and suffering of eight people."

And she wants somebody to lose his or her job.

Cowper said the shelter would be closed today until noon so an investigation can be conducted and staff can be retrained on the process.

The protocols already in place should have prevented the accidental killing of a dog that was neither aggressive nor sick.

According to Cowper, every dog and cat the facility puts down can only be euthanized when two people sign off.

Shelter computer software assigns random numbers to each animal that comes in, and a minimum three-day waiting period is put in effect. Cowper said every number assigned to a dog is accounted for.

She is scheduled to meet with an attorney to discuss what laws would apply and what the legal precedents are. She hopes to have an answer for Pruitt by Friday in an effort to settle the matter and avoid litigation.

Pruitt wonders how an organization with so many safeguards in place could have made such a terrible mistake.

"This is just so stupid," said Pruitt. "They didn't have to kill him. He was a good, healthy, loving dog."

Cowper agrees, and while she makes no excuses for what happened to Thor, she did say the shelter is under great strain in Kingman, where it took in about 1,450 dogs in fiscal year 2012-2013 ending June 30. Of those, the owners of slightly more than 300 dogs were reunited with their pet.

The percentage of unclaimed dogs is higher in Kingman than in other communities in which the humane society operates, a fact Cowper said is due to too many dogs going without a collar or microchip, and dog owners who won't bother looking for missing animals. She also said there is an abnormally high number of vicious dogs in the Kingman area.

Pruitt, she said, did everything the owner of a missing dog is supposed to do, except for putting an identifying tag on Thor's collar.

"He wouldn't wear a collar," said Pruitt. "He just refused, but he was inside all the time. He wouldn't go outside for long. He thought he was a member of the family, and he was."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, September 26, 2013
Article comment by: Puppy Luv

I also know that the humane society is far from perfect. they did some damage with my dog that i adopted from them. but also remember they are not the ONLY ones at fault.
1 shelter
2 person who released the dog
3 pruitt

im simply trying to discourage the monetary lawsuit, and maybe sue for something more like higher standards and frequent check ins to make sure they are abiding court issued orders. THAT i would be all for. especially since they adopted a puppy to me with parvo costing me over a thousand dollars to cure.

Posted: Thursday, September 26, 2013
Article comment by: Puppy Luv

KDM online reader

yes i blame her. she left a supposedly pure bred dog un chipped and un collared in a car,in arizona, in an unlocked car. now the dog is dead. i never said anything bout dogs being home while the owner is at work. i have two dogs myself and work full time. but they are in a LOCKED air conditioned home with water Ssafely. i never leave my dogs alone in the car. ever. i know my dogs are at risk in that situation and i CHOOSE to not put them in it.
She made the CHOICE to leave her dog, and sadly there was a price for it. but she had to know the possibility of something bad happening. People needto stop thinking " it wont happen to me" and remember that it can

Posted: Thursday, September 26, 2013
Article comment by: DOG LOVER

this type of situation happened to me with an animal shelter. I had a small dog that ran away shiztu, called shelter they said they didnt have it but did have a lapso apso. they called me 3 days later and said they had had the dog the whole time. they tried to charge me for kennel fee and food..THAT didnt work....i got my dog back....

Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Article comment by: Candace Jonas

Good Point Kiley Privett.
This is a huge story abt how the Shelter did not do their job. Victor/Victoria?? even acknowledges the Shelter did not do their job. So the Dog is Dead, the Employee gets their hand slapped, & the Shelter Mgr/Director still carries on. Yea, wtz up with that?? This is not the 1st time this has happened. That's why there's a time frame to begin w/ that the Shelter needs to hold an Animal so an owner has time to retrieve their beloved pet. This situation w/ Thor was just lucky enough to get in the paper. Why are we as citizens paying for this Agency to run this Shelter??

Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Article comment by: Kiley Privett

What is the update on this? Has there been a settlement? Public apology? What is the shelter doing/done to ensure this does not happen again?

Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2013
Article comment by: R .

@ Golden Valley Man

It sounds like maybe they mixed up records on the dogs...wouldn't that be a great ending if it turns out that little guy is still alive and you have him? Hope you're able to make contact with Miss Pruitt and that we can get an update if this turns out good!

Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2013
Article comment by: Hey Peeps

If you lose your dog the first thing that you do is go to the dog pound and ask to look and see if your dog is there. They often don't know the actual breeds of dogs and if you call or just go in the office they will tell you the dog is not there because they have put the wrong breed of the dog in the paper work. So take if from someone who's dog was almost put down because when I called they said they did not have the dog when all along they did. If I had not went to the pound to check for myself my friend would have been killed the next day. Bottom line for pet owners, Go look yourself.

Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2013
Article comment by: Highly Amused

You might also want to see if any local animal control officers were in the area. I've heard from several local friends who've had their dogs lured from their yards/vehicles by officers. I know people who used to work there...there IS a quota they have to have for bringing animals in, as well as euthanizing them. So far, none have been caught with physical proof (video, photos etc) but they have been seen doing it!

Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2013
Article comment by: R t

Why do all these people believe this pile.If you look at Craigslist under lost and found dated 29aug she post dog was last seen on Gordon and Bond. I think this is a scam????

Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2013
Article comment by: Golden Valley Man

Mrs Pruitt...
You photo looks so close to the dog i adopted fro western az on thursday the 29th and it made me wonder if they could be he same,he even hates the color being worn, however I have records showing him being at a vet weeks before. I have even gone as far as to look up pictures on your facebook. How old is that picture in the paper? Did you go bak and look at the dogs while at the shelter?

Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2013
Article comment by: brenda smail

[Comment exceeded word limit.]

Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2013
Article comment by: Casey Heath

[Comment exceeded word limit.]

Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2013
Article comment by: WATCH DOG !!!

The story of Thor being put down is nothing has had happened many times before and will happen again unless there are major changes made starting at the top with the over paid inept Cowper.

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Sorenson-Kapica

There is no excuse for killing a young dog even if no one claimed this dog, it looked highly adoptable to me. I am looking for the Pitt-Bull boxer mix that went missing at the Kingman hospital parking lot. He is definitely wanted by his owner.
P.S. I tried to leave my 2012 ford truck running with the air conditioner on for my dog, but now you cannot lock your vehicle at least ford vehicles when they are running the locks keep popping back up . Good idea, I guess so people don't accidently leave there vehicle running and lock themselves out. But you can't keep you pet cool and comfortable.

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by: Road Runner

@ Comment – Oh don’t get me started on the war on Syria or a singer’s performance on TV, believe me I have my opinions on those subjects as well. This subject just happens to be about a dog, which myself and others are just expressing our thoughts.

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by: Kingman resident

First mistake – leaving the dog in the car. I have a mutt, worth nothing in the dog world, but worth everything to me, would have come with me on a “bathroom break”. You could have gone to Petco/Petsmart or even Home Depot with the puppy in tow! Second mistake was not having this expensive puppy micro chipped. You leave your expensive car running and an expensive puppy inside to go potty? What happened to your Thor was horrible, but you I’m afraid started the whole chain of events which led to this.

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by: comment .....

@road runner.....I have to alter my previous comment - this thread about a dog now has twice as many responses as any other at the Daily Miner. I wouldn't trouble you with the apocalyptic developments regarding an upcoming war on Syria, but I do consider it a sign of sanity to weight things properly (something like placing nuclear war on page 1, and a pop star's latest rant on page 26. Got it?). Hope the doggie problem gets resolved, maybe just before Lake Mead runs dry (see the Las Vegas Review Journal today) and Homeland Security moves in for the kill (what else do you do with 2 billion rounds of hollow-point ammunition?).

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by: dog owner

@ Michaele Lee…..your right this shouldn’t have happened, but it did. I’m sure the people who work at the human society don’t enjoy euthanizing pets, but what are you going to do with so little room and a county full of irresponsible pet owners who don’t spay/neuter their pets? There are no-kill shelters who do take in unwanted dogs/cats, but it’s the same old story – money! The more donations they get maybe some of these shelters can expand and help more animals.
The Humane Society does need an overhaul. Every animal that is brought in should have a picture taken and immediately put on a website and posted in the office – especially if it’s a stray. Every effort should be made to find the owner and if not – a home. There should also be a bulletin board in the back area (where its visible to the officers who bring in the animals) so they can immediately look to see if the animal they brought in is listed by the owner. I also would send the pictures to the nearby vets in case they recognize the animal. Just saying….

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by: Blah 1 Blah 2

Jack Dundee

No with a locked car, none of this would have happened.

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

From all of the negative comments about the horrible animal shelter there is only one answer. SHUT IT DOWN! Let animals run free and attack kids and other animals. Let them breed in massive numbers. SHUT IT DOWN!

This is simlar to people whinng about taxes in Kingman - and much like my suggestion regarding the city, i.e. disband it so there are no taxes - SHUT DOWN THE ANIMAL SHELTER! Do away with it - problem solved!

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by: Road Runner

My only comment…. There are many here who care about dogs and other animals. Sorry you have a problem with that!

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by: Kim Truelove

This doesn't surprise me, many people have problems with WAHS. First I would be looking for the security footage from Smiths to see if you can get an i.d. for who stole the dog. But its sad when you see WAHS coming down the street you have to warn your neighbors to put their dogs in the house because they might open the gate to let your dog out. Or "something" happens where your dog was aggressive and had to put them down. I adopted a Husky from there but seeing who those employees just didn't care about a thing really ticked me off. Maybe some new employees and management would do that place good??

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by: Kingman dog owner

I’m curious about this woman who placed the ad on Craigslist. How did she end up with Thor? Did she herself steal the dog and if not perhaps she can provide info on the person she got the dog from. The person who took Thor in the first place should be held accountable – I mean stealing a dog worth that much, couldn’t that be considered grand theft? Of course I would still be very upset with the humane society, but this wouldn’t have happened if the dog wasn’t stolen.

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by: A Scavone

@ NA - Typical of an insensitive troll to sit behind your computer and make one hurtful comment after another...shame on you.

@ Randy Petronio - Very good points and an interesting and probable theory.

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
Article comment by: mandy Bull

You know, you're able to take dogs to Walmart now. And Home Depot, and Petsmart. & Petco. Probably more.

Choose your bathroom break wisely, my friends...

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