SALT LAKE CITY — An 8-year-old Utah boy wrote a letter to his local newspaper after an animal shelter worker failed to write a note to save his cat from being euthanized: "Yesterday grown-ups killed my kitty, my best friend, when they weren't supposed to."
The letter appeared in The Herald Journal, of Logan, on Thursday. By Friday, it had received the fourth-most comments on the newspaper's website — behind three letters about Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Some berated the shelter for failing to keep the cat safe. Others criticized the family for letting the cat outside, failing to have it on a leash or not looking for the cat at the shelter sooner. Still others faulted the neighbors who had trapped the cat and denied having seen it when asked.
But the boy, Rayden Sazama, just wanted to share his love of his cat, Toothless.
"I just wanted to tell people about Toothless — that I loved him," he told The Associated Press through his father, Jason Sazama, on Friday. "And that people shouldn't lie."
Sazama said he's surprised how many people didn't get the point of Rayden's letter: "It was about a boy sharing his love for his cat — and saying, 'C'mon grown-ups.'"
Toothless, a fluffy, black cat who roamed the cow pasture next door and often brought home "presents" of field mice, slipped out his kitty door Sept. 28 and didn't return home. By Sunday, Rayden and his younger brother, Devin, were going door to door, asking neighbors if they had seen the cat.
Everyone said they hadn't seen Toothless.
Jason Sazama checked the Cache Humane Society's website but didn't see any photos resembling Toothless. After two busy days on the road for work, he decided to swing by the organization's shelter Tuesday to see if Toothless had turned up.
The shelter had already closed for the evening, but a worker allowed Sazama inside, where Toothless sat in a cage. There was just one problem: Sazama still needed to pay the impound fee at a government building that was also closed.
The worker assured Sazama the cat would be fine, and he returned home, crowing: "I found Toothless! We'll get him tomorrow."
But when Sazama returned the next day, the receipt for his impound payment in hand, he discovered that Toothless had already been euthanized. The worker had forgotten to put a note on the cage.
The Cache Humane Society did not return a telephone message Friday from the AP. When reached by The Herald Journal, Director Brenda Smith confirmed Rayden's story, saying the boy's father had visited the shelter after business hours, when the worker was busy training another employee.
"She let him in to look for the cat, but unfortunately, in training someone she forgot to leave a note on the cat's cage," Smith told the newspaper. "I've just been sick about it, and so has she."
Sazama said he has no ill will toward the shelter.
"I had to explain to my son that several adults made mistakes here," he said. "The worker made a mistake, and I should have gone to the shelter sooner."
comments on this story
Sazama said he even understood why the neighbors trapped the cat; he hadn't known that Toothless had been visiting the neighbors' sandbox and leaving different kinds of presents there.
But Rayden said in his letter that the neighbors lied when he asked them if they had seen the cat. "My dad and mom tell me and Devin not to lie and that is right," he said.
"Now I don't know what to do," the letter concludes. "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?"
Sazama's letter: http://bit.ly/QKGGjn