Last week, Caroline Stadler of St. Petersburg, Florida was happily preparing to finally exterminate the termites plaguing her home. She contacted the well known company, Terminix and set up an appointment. The actual service would be done by one of their “preferred fumigation service providers”. In preparation for a couple possible appointment dates, they set a lock-box up on her door. Later, plans were confirmed they would be at her home on Monday, April 22nd. The arrival window was set for 3:00 pm. So when she arrived to the home a bit after 1pm, she was shocked at what she saw. They had arrived early, tented her home and began fumigating without confirming the time change. But her belongings and most importantly–her beloved family cat Dahlia–were inside with the poisonous gas.
None of the workers would help rescue her 10-year-old cat from the deadly trap.
As Caroline dropped to her knees in front of her home, she sobbed uncontrollably. Neighbors gathered after hearing her screams. They watched with breaking hearts as the Terminix-hired crew refused to help the devastated woman.
Here are here own words, shared on Facebook with her family and friends.
For those that want the words from the horse’s mouth:
I had scheduled for Terminix to come on Monday and tent my home last week. We set up the lock box with a house key ahead of time. At the time we weren’t sure if we were going to tent that Thursday or the following Monday. Terminix did not share the code to remove the lockbox. So the lockbox remained there, ready for the tent people.
I had verification that Terminix would be at my house at 3 pm to tent. I’d made arrangements for my cat and I at a local air bnb for the week and was scheduled to work from 7 am to 1 pm. I got a call at 8:30 am that morning saying that the tenting people would be there around 2:30 pm.
Agreeing and receiving confirmation over the phone three time, they confirmed the tenting people would arrive no earlier than 1:00 pm. I received a call at 12:30 but as I was working I did not answer my phone.
No message was left for me and no attempt was made to call the backup emergency number that was placed in the contract. I drove up to my house at 1:30 pm with my house tented and all my belongings, food, medicine, and cat still inside. I broke down crying and screaming.
[There is] video footage proving that they began the tenting process at noon and arrived around 11:30.
My neighbors said the PEST people said “it is what it is” when they couldn’t get a hold of me and just continued the tenting process.
They saw the litter box and cat food still out. They saw my almost packed suitcase laying open on my bedroom floor. But since they saw no physical cat they continued. (Newsflash: cats hide around strangers and my cat doesn’t meow!)
While crying and screaming for someone to save my cat I had multiple people call Terminix asking if they could do something, anything. They said there was nothing they could do once the gas was released so no one came.
I sat with my neighbors outside my house for hours trying to get someone to come take the tent down, but no one was willing to. I filed a report with the sheriffs office and department of agriculture and reluctantly retired to my air bnb.
The next morning PEST came to remove the tent.
I confronted them and broke down, begging them to take my cat out. Once they did I knew the worst had come true–my cat was dead.
And what hurt was that the PEST worker said that if they got the emergency call yesterday from Terminix they could have come out with their equipment to save her.
I am hurt, grieving, and beyond enraged. All I received were half-hearted apologies and barely any words from Terminix. And this is not okay. I want #JusticeforDahlia. She was my emotional support animal and one of the best cats I have ever had the privilege to own. She slept with me every night, greeted me at the door when I came home, and curled up with me whenever I sat down. [Dahlia] was my furbaby and will be deeply missed.
Now, still reeling from the ordeal, her friends and family are trying to get answers from Terminix.
Both her father and sister have left messages on the social media pages, getting generic responses in return. Her father, Rob Stadler shared that Dahlia was an integral part of his daughters life.
Dahlia was an emotional service cat that helped my daughter’s PTSD from a serious accident caused by a drunk driver.
This isn’t the first time that pest control companies, poisonous gas and their hired contractors have been at the center of tragic events.
Numerous reports and complaints over the last decade tell sad stories of deceased pets caught in the poisonous gas. These deadly gases linger and can even cause damaging effects after the treatment–to humans and animals.
In regards to this incident, ABC Action News was given 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,” Drew Black, a Communications Consultant said.
With her now broken heart, Caroline has vowed that Dahlia’s tragedy will not be forgotten.
A huge thank you to all of my friends, family, work family, neighbors, and strangers for their condolences and support during this time. I was just notified that my home was cleared for re-entry this morning but emotionally I am not ready to confront the place where Dahlia died just yet. Regardless, it is my home and I will have to return to it. I am very grateful that I have so much love and support around to help me get through this.
Poetry is a form of comfort for me and two poems circulated my head all through yesterday- “Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep” by Mary Frye and “Do Not go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas. The one line that truly resonated with me though was “Do not go gentle into that good night, rage rage against the dying of the light”. I don’t want this story to be brushed away and forgotten. I want this story to be the annoying mosquito in Terminix’s life, always there and reminding them of the tragedy they caused.
This tragedy should be a warning to everyone to take the right precautions whenever pest control and a beloved pet’s paths intersect. And I will not rest until there is #JusticeforDahlia
REMEMBER: Spay, neuter, foster, volunteer, TNR and as always ADOPT don’t shop!
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