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'Grown-ups killed my kitty': Boy's letter sparks outcry

October 08, 2012|By John M. Glionna
  • This screenshot shows Herald Journal News' letter to the editor regarding a mistakenly euthanized cat that received almost 300 reader comments.
This screenshot shows Herald Journal News' letter to the editor regarding… (HJNews.com )

The letter to the Logan, Utah, newspaper was a youthful cry of anguish over the fate of a lost cat.

It was written last week by an 8-year-old boy named Rayden Sazama whose precious pet, Toothless, was euthanized by the local animal control shelter without his family’s knowledge.

“Yesterday grown-ups killed my kitty, my best friend, when they weren’t supposed to,” it read in part.

By Monday, the boy’s letter had become the most-commented-upon letter on the newspaper’s website, far above the presidential campaign or Mitt Romney's supposed failings as a candidate.

“It’s amazing,” Logan Herald Journal managing editor Charlie McCollum told the Los Angeles Times. “Animal stories in our community always touch a nerve. This one sure did.”

Toothless, a fluffy black cat who was allowed to roam the cow pasture next door, went missing in late September when a neighbor reported the animal to local officials. The cat was picked up by city workers as Rayden and his brother Devin went door to door asking about the animal.

Nobody had seen Toothless, it appeared, including the family who had turned in the animal to control officials.

Days later, after returning from a road trip, the boys’ father, Jason Sazama, went to the animal control office after business hours. A clerk let the man in and to his surprise, there was Toothless in a cage. But Sazama needed to pay an impound fee and was told he could do it in the morning.

The worker assured Sazama the cat would be fine, and he returned home assuring his son: “I found Toothless! We’ll get him tomorrow,” Sazama told the Herald Journal.

But the worker neglected to put a note on the cage that the cat had been claimed and Toothless was euthanized overnight.

The boy’s letter to the editor carried a stern message to adults. Don’t lie, he advised, in reference to the neighbors who denied seeing the cat. “My dad and mom tell me and Devin not to lie and that is right,” he wrote.

“Now I don’t know what to do. My cat Toothless is dead; the people that killed him didn’t even give him to my dad so we could bury him. What do I do now?”

So far, the letter has prompted more than 280 comments in the town of 49,000 residents near the Idaho border. Some blamed the shelter for failing to keep the cat safe. Others berated the family for not keeping the animal on a leash and for not going to the shelter sooner. One man’s anti-cat diatribe became so angry that newspaper editors removed his comments from the site, McCollum told The Times.

Another reader wrote directly to the grieving boy.

“It is sad when anyone loses a pet,” the commenter wrote. “Remember, people make mistakes.”

McCollum said he believes the boy’s letter served its purpose.

“I think his dad just wanted him to write it as a form of closure,” he said.

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john.glionna@latimes.com

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