Saturday, August 13, 2011

Kent County Animal Shelter accidently kills family pit bull hours after dog gets loose

By Ursula Zerilli, The Grand Rapids Press

A family’s dog was wrongfully put down last week after a Kent County Animal Shelter worker confused the pet with another dog scheduled for euthanasia at the shelter, a county official said.
“It’s an awful human error and our staff is emotional, as were the owners,” said Bill Anstey, deputy health officer for the Kent County Health Department. “It is not a good situation.”
Elizabeth Kuieck and her fiance, Douglas Fasburg were not home when their 13-month-old red-nosed pit bull, Izza, got loose. Within 45 minutes of her being lost, they went to the animal shelter but were told the dog was not there, Fasburg said.
Hours later a neighbor told them they saw a patrol officer take the dog.
Assuming the shelter would not put down an animal so quickly without contacting them, Kuieck and their three children excitedly headed back to the shelter, said Fasburg.
Soon after Fasburg received a phone call from Kuieck saying “Izza was frozen solid with blood on her neck.”
”They showed the kids and they were laying on the bed hugging her and kissing her,” Fasburg said.
Staff workers checked Izza’s microchip, which is placed in a dog’s ear as a means of identification when it is obtained at the shelter as Izza was last December, but had troubles locating the family, Anstey said.
The dog was placed in a kennel with a similar-looking dog and both had been wearing pink collars and a staff worker brought the wrong dog to the euthanasia room, according to Anstey.
Anstey said he was not at liberty to talk about the employee who made the mistake, but he did stress the event has taken an emotionally toll on the staff.
”We have safeguards in place to prevent this and we are investigating to see if they were all followed,” Anstey said. “The employee that made the error has worked with us for a long time, has a clean track record and she is good at what she does but a mistake happened. We can’t bring the dog back but we wish we could,” Anstey said.
Fasburg believes the shelter did not go through proper safeguards, especially because they had gone to the shelter twice within hours of Izza being lost. He says they did not receive any phone calls informing them that the animal was at the shelter.
”How can you mix up a 13-month-old puppy who is not aggressive with an older dog who supposedly is,” Fasburg questioned. “And then not scan it a second time before killing our dog?
“Not only does it crush my heart, but my kids’ too. Everybody loved that dog. I’m a grown man and I cried.”
A friend reached out to the family via Facebook on Friday to give them a 13-week-old pit bull named Lola but she “will never be Izza,” Fasburg said. They also set up a Facebook page in memory of Izza.

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