Edmonton

Shelter 'open to investigation' after rescue cats forgotten inside vehicle for 22 days

The Edmonton Humane Society says it will hire a consultant to review shelter procedures after three rescue cats were forgotten inside a vehicle for 22 days.

'We recognize there is a need for an impartial body to investigate'

A cat at the Edmonton Humane Society on August 8, 2017. (CBC)

The Edmonton Humane Society says it will hire a consultant to review shelter procedures after three rescue cats were forgotten inside a vehicle for 22 days.

In a statement posted online Thursday, the society said the consultant will provide "an objective review of our policies and procedures." The consultant will "make recommendations and develop an ongoing plan," the society said.

The shelter also said it is open to the prospect of a third-party investigation. 

"Over the past few days we have heard the concerns and disappointment from the public regarding the incident," reads the statement from society CEO Miranda Jordan-Smith. "We share the disappointment and feel truly horrible that this occurred.

"We recognize there is a need for an impartial body to investigate when such incidents occur at the organizations which enforce animal protection law. We are open to an investigation and the development of a system that will help navigate processes for when these rare instances occur." 

The society said the three cats were brought to the Edmonton shelter from another agency on March 27, but were overlooked when the vehicle was unloaded.

The animals weren't discovered until April 18 when staff were preparing for another animal transfer.

The society said the cats were dehydrated, hungry and had minor urine burns on their paws, but suffered no major injuries or illnesses.

We will also safeguard our team members from carrying the weight of the error.-Miranda Jordan-Smith, CEO Edmonton Humane Society

When the incident was made public through a news release on June 5, the shelter said it had already completed an internal review.

Since then, the agency has faced a barrage of complaints and conflict of interest allegations, with some animal advocates calling for a full criminal investigation.

The society said the cats were transferred to the Calgary Humane Society where they were medically cleared and re-homed.

"We will take all the necessary steps to ensure a similar incident never happens again," Jordan-Smith said in Wednesday's statement.

"With these improvements, we will also safeguard our team members from carrying the weight of the error."