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The legacy of an empty collar

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Collar

An empty collar. It represents a beloved family member who has passed away, and a sad heart. It also seems to be an image that is increasingly associated with the legacy of former Humane Society of Indianapolis CEO Martha Boden, now CEO of SPCA Tampa Bay.

Recently, Pinellas County (FL) funeral director Daniel Miller made the painful decision to euthanize Casino, his family’s beloved 14-year-old dog, who was declining steadily and suffering. He made the arrangements with SPCA/TB and completed the paperwork to have Casino cremated individually and the remains returned to him.

Instead, Casino was cremated along with several other animals and the ashes were disposed of in the county landfill.

“Tossed him in the garbage. I felt that’s exactly what they told me,” a heartbroken Miller said.

The empty collar image also appeared on an Indianapolis news story in 2006 during Boden’s tenure here. It recounts how Kim Gastineau’s beloved dog Spencer, who managed to slip out of his yard, was taken to HSI by a neighbor and was killed there while Gastineau repeatedly called HSI, only to be told his dog wasn’t there. No effort was made to contact Gastineau, although two contact numbers were on Spencer’s collar. He was told the dog had no identification, and was treated with utter contempt.

A funeral director, Miller has a keen awareness of the grief process and the importance of respect. He also may have some community visibility. Boden attempted to placate the family with a refund and offers of alternative memorials. But all they wanted was assurance that this would not happen to another family.

Boden says procedures have been implemented to prevent future mixups.