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Dubuque Humane Society volunteer fired over cat comments

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

A volunteer for the Dubuque Regional Humane Society was fired recently over her remarks made about the decision to euthanize a cat.

Lois Sutton Richardson volunteered at the Humane Society for about three years. In that time, she brought many stray cats there, but only if she thought they could be adopted, she said.

But it was one cat in particular, Brooklyn, and her comments about the cat that got her fired.

Richardson brought the cat into the Humane Society last month. Officials said she was suffering from multiple ailments.

At the time, Richardson told the intake staff that she wanted to foster the cat if it wasn't healthy enough.

"I said, 'Because the vet here gets a little kill-happy.' She said, 'Excuse me?' I said, 'Yeah,' I said, 'That's my opinion, that she's a little kill-happy,'" Richardson said.

That got Richardson a reprimand, but she was allowed to keep volunteering.

Brooklyn was treated for nearly two weeks, and became increasingly aggressive. 

"At one point, she even ran away with a needle from a vaccination still stuck in her. So it was a tough decision, but because she had acted out to multiple employees, we didn't feel as if she would be safe being put up for adoption," said Maria Benham, President and CEO of the Dubuque Regional Humane Society.

Her veterinarian staff decided to euthanize Brooklyn. Richardson couldn't understand why, so said she emailed staff multiple times in the search for answers.

After getting no reply, she posted a status to Facebook about it, which got more than 750 shares. And it was that post that got her barred from volunteering there.

Benham said they've had to do it four or five times in the past.

"Unfortunately, there have been times when people have spoken out against the Humane Society and the things we do, and do not support what we do, so we do have to ask them to not volunteer, because it only makes it a little bit harder for both parties," Benham said.

She also released a four-page statement over the weekend responding to the post. 

Richardson said her main concern lies with who gets to make the decision to euthanize an animal.   

"My thing was against the vet. The vet has done this in the past. They pull cats out of adoption and euthanize them, because they might've hissed at her or swatted at her. So that's why I'm upset because of this cat, and this vet has so much control," she said.

Benham, though, said the decision to euthanize is made by multiple people, not just the veterinarian. 

And although the post caused an outcry against the Humane Society, Richardson said that was never her intent.

"They do some really great things there -- I never meant to have people speak out against them," she said.

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