Dog euthanized in Raleigh, NC shelter hours after TV appearance

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A shelter dog in the Wake County (NC) shelter was euthanized just hours after she appeared on TV to promote her adoption. Sassy, an 8-month-old labrador/hound mix was on WRAL TV’s noon news show Tuesday, as a shelter staff member reported her ready to go to a new home.

The shelter even posted her on its Facebook page.

But WRAL News reports later that day she was “put down around 5:30 p.m. because she showed signs of an illness.”

A spread of illness and an increase in the number of dogs coming into the facility are being used to explain away a troubling increase in the number of dogs being euthanized of late. WRAL reports the rate was approximately 18 percent (131 dogs) in January. And the number had increased to 327 loosing their lives in August, a rate of 42 percent.

I know the economy is bad and more people across the country are turning over their pets to shelters. But I’ve read some positive news of late in how local shelters, including the one in my hometown, are doing much better in reducing the euthanasia rates and increasing the number of adoptions.

It is clear more needs to be done in Wake County to turn the trend around there.

Sassy was obviously fine at 12 noon on Tuesday. As an animal-welfare columnist over the last decade, I’ve not been one slam municipal shelters across the board. But I am going to be hard-nosed in cases where homeless pets are dying in gas chambers or through the use of heart sticks or in cases where pets are dying as part of routine and/or hardline practices, where other options are available.

And there is this conflicting paragraph in the WRAL piece –

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Wake County officials said some animals could be treated with antibiotics and saved, but the shelter doesn’t have a quarantine area to treat them. SPCA officials say Wake County does have a quarantine and isolation area.

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Which is it?

All I can do in this case is read the WRAL reporting. The station reported later in the day Wednesday that a staff member witnessed Sassy coughing, with green nasal discharge. I’m not a vet, but that seems to be a short time frame for these symptoms to come on, to a point where the dog is immediately killed.

If this had been the policy one county up the coast from my home, we would not have been able to adopt Ernie, a basset lab mix who is one of the world’s greatest dogs. He was listed as an “owner turn-in” and later became ill, with similar symptoms to Sassy. We monitored his condition through the shelter manager and once he was well enough, we picked him up.

Ernie is the most gentle, snuggle-loving dog I’ve ever been around and my wife and I would have considered it a tragedy if we did not have him in our lives.

But again, I can’t comment on stories such as this without placing the primary blame squarely on the backs of irresponsible people and entities such as puppy mills. If more people would spay and neuter their pets and not contribute to the constant flow of millions of dogs and cats going into shelters each year, we wouldn’t read stories like this.

Far too many pets are going into shelters each day, all across the country. Irresponsible people are to blame – period. Yet every time solutions are presented, in an attempt to force irresponsible people to take care of their pets, the other side whines. Every time animal advocates suggest new laws to shut down puppy mills, a few organizations cry and whine and throw up roadblocks.

3 thoughts on “Dog euthanized in Raleigh, NC shelter hours after TV appearance

  1. With the story carried today (12-19-12) on WRAL-TV & Yahoo, about a dog being killed within a short time of being left for adoption, and with staff telling the family they could come and take the dog back, it sound like there are systemic problems with the staff.

    Firing those responsible is the clear best choice.

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