If you're the kind of person who cries at animal movies, you don't want to read this.
There are so many awful layers to 8-year-old Rayden Sazama's story of a euthanized cat: the neighbors who trapped his pet and lied about it, the false hope of getting the cat back, and finally the shelter employee who forgot to leave a note sparing the cat's life.
It's a gut-punch of a tale on its own — and that's without the letter Rayden sent to The Herald Journal, in which he recounts the story and his sense of loss.
My name is Rayden. I am 8 years old and I live in Logan. Yesterday grown-ups killed my kitty, my best friend, when they weren't supposed to. Because I really don't know how to write, my PaPa is writing down the things I think and say.
My kitty's name is Toothless. When I got him I had just seen "How to Train a Dragon" at the movies. My kitty looked just like the dragon Toothless with big green eyes and the hair around his head. Toothless, my cat, has long fluffy hair and sleeps on my bed and loved to play with my brother and me. Toothless would let us carry him around all the time. He was our best friend.
When Toothless didn't come home one night, Rayden and his 5-year-old brother Devin went to every house on their block to look for him. No one had seen anything — or so they said — so the boys' father Jason decided to check the animal shelter.
Jason discovered that Toothless was in fact being kept at the shelter, but he wasn't able to take the cat home that night.
My dad wanted to take him home, but they said he had to go to another office building and pay a fee. The lady at the shelter said it would be OK and told him to come back the next day and we could get Toothless. When my dad came home and told my little brother and me he found Toothless we were so happy and we weren't scarred or worried anymore.
You already know where this is going.
My dad went back the next day to get our kitty and they told him they didn't have any long-haired black cats. They only had a white fluffy cat. My dad waited a long time for the lady to come back and talk to him. The same lady that told my dad to come back the next day said she was sorry. She had forgotten to leave a note to tell the people my dad would be there for Toothless and they had just killed my cat that morning. She had just forgotten to write a note to save a member of my family. They killed him and I don't know why.
To make an awful story worse, the Sazama family learned that their animal-hating neighbors had actually trapped the cat and sent him to the shelter. Not only were the neighbors lying when they said they hadn't seen Toothless — they were responsible for his disappearance.
When Devin and I knocked on their door and asked if they had seen Toothless they told us no, and that was a lie. My dad and mom tell me and Devin not to lie and that is right. I didn't think big people lied because they are grown ups and know what is right. 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?
The Herald Journal confirmed Rayden Sazama's story through Cache Humane Society Director Brenda Smith, who explained that the worker who forgot to leave a note on Toothless' cage had been busy training a new employee.
Jason Sazama doesn't blame the animal shelter, and he takes responsibility for not going to the shelter sooner. He explained to Rayden that "several adults made mistakes here."
As for why he wrote the letter, Rayden told the AP, "I just wanted to tell people about Toothless — that I loved him. And that people shouldn't lie."
[Image via Shutterstock]