ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A family cat met a horrific end after Terminix tented a Florida home and then filled it with sulfuryl fluoride, a deadly poison. The cat was still inside.
The 10-year-old, black-and-white tuxedo cat named "Dahlia" was found inside the home at the end of her owner’s bed.
“I automatically screamed and cried and fell to my knees. I was screaming so loud my neighbors came out to see what was going on,” Caroline Stadler said.
Stadler said she told crews at Terminix that she had to work on Monday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., and that she would be home around that time to get her bags and take her cat to an Airbnb. But Stadler said the company that Terminix contracted, P.E.S.T., showed up at the house early.
“It sounds like there was a lot of miscommunication. Sounds like there was a lot of carelessness,” Stadler said. "I did a lot of crying a lot of screaming. I am so enraged by this. I'm so sad.”
According to signs posted outside the home, the workers began fumigating the home at 12:45 p.m. Stadler arrived at the house less than an hour later and said she begged and pleaded for someone to go into the home with the proper gear to save her cat.
Despite multiple calls to Terminix, Stadler said no one attempted to save her cat. On Tuesday, Stadler said someone went in and removed the dead cat.
“I only really saw remorse from the guy that brought her out,” Stadler said. “The whole team, they were being very defensive, they said they were just doing their job. They did not do their search thoroughly and they did not do their due diligence in making sure the house was clear.”
A representative with Terminix sent us this statement:
“We were recently made aware of the incident involving a fumigation at a customer’s home. The safety and satisfaction of our customers is our top priority, and we are looking into the matter internally with our preferred fumigation service provider,” said Drew Black, a communications consultant.
WFTS called P.E.S.T for comment as well but have not heard back.
Stadler showed WFTS the booking she made for an Airbnb Monday at 3 p.m. and text messages she sent to a friend Saturday confirming she was having the home tented later in the day and not to worry about getting the cat Monday morning.
Stadler plans to file a lawsuit against Terminix.
“I would like to see this never happen to someone again,” Stadler said. “I would love to have my cat back, but that’s not possible.”