It was on Father's Day when Damon Hughes last saw his cat Rahzz. She was a six-year-old tabby he rescued from an abandoned house on a rainy night, that soon became a member of the family.
Hughes said Rahzz split her time between his house and roaming the streets outside. He said it was normal for her to disappear for two days at a time, but she always came home.
But last week, he thought something wasn't right. Rahzz had been missing more than three days.
On Friday, June 20th, he went to the Lubbock Animal Shelter.
"We went through two rooms and several dozen cats and we finally found her," Hughes said. "I looked down in the cage and I thought that might be her, and I had this little whistle that I used to do with her. That got her attention pretty well and she got out of the square that she was in and went straight to the front of the cage, and I knew that it was her. I looked down and told her, ‘Alright, sweetheart, I'll be right back. I'll come get you, I'll be right back.'"
Hughes left the kennel area, believing he could take her home that day, but the Animal Shelter required records that weren't immediately available.
"They said, ‘Well okay, we've got your cat tagged and you can pick her up Monday. Bring your records and you can pick her up Monday,'" Hughes said.
Hughes brought the records on Monday, but discovered that Rahzz needed an updated rabies shot. The Shelter said that they could do it and asked Hughes to wait until Tuesday to pick up his cat.
That night, he and his family prepared for her homecoming, getting new cat food, a litter box and new bed.
The next day, Hughes went back to the Animal Shelter on his lunch break. He walked to the front desk, handed in his paperwork and waited for a worker to bring Rahzz.
Ten minutes went by and the worker returned with no animal. Hughes felt something wasn't right. The shelter searched for Rahzz, thinking she may have been misplaced, and asked Hughes to wait for the supervisor to help them figure out what happened. An hour had passed, and Hughes feared the worst.
"About another hour later, he comes back out and comes to sit down and talk to me," Hughes said, "and tells me we got a 90 percent chance that we put your cat down, and at that point I pretty much lost it.
"The supervisor finally decided to tell me that we're pretty sure this is what happened to her," he said, "and that there was nothing that they could do, and that they had made a mistake and he was very aware that they had made a mistake. And so his only consolation for it was that if I wanted another cat, I could come see him and he would take care of it for me."
Hughes said the supervisor told him there had been a mix-up over the weekend when the cages were cleaned, and that Rahzz had been put in a pen that was set to be euthanized. Rahzz had a chip which the supervisor said should have notified the shelter workers that it was a cat with an owner, but Hughes said the supervisor admitted proper protocol wasn't followed.
"There were three steps that they were supposed to follow," Hughes said, "as far as making sure this pet doesn't belong to anybody before we actually euthanize it, and none of that was done and he couldn't give me an exact reason why it didn't happen. He just pretty much told me that they dropped the ball."
Hughes said that he went home that night and made up a story about why Rahzz wasn't coming home so his four-year-old could understand what happened. He said his mission now is to try and make sure this doesn't happen again.
"It just hurts my heart to think that could happen to somebody else again," he said.
After Hughes brought his story forward, City of Lubbock Officials called him and his family, promising that changes were coming to Lubbock Animal Control.
Hughes said he welcomes those, and hopes to provide advice to the city to help prevent this from happening again.
Tuesday, August 26 2014 5:57 AM EDT2014-08-26 09:57:06 GMT
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