Dog euthanized while in labor at animal shelter, sparks outrage

Published: Jun. 2, 2018 at 2:25 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 4, 2018 at 12:38 PM CDT
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Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Amarillo Animal Management and Welfare is under fire after a volunteer took her concerns to social media.

Dacia Anderson is a dedicated volunteer at both the Amarillo-Panhandle Humane Society and Amarillo Animal Management and Welfare.

But after a recent incident, she's been asked to take a step back from her work.

"I felt disgusted, I felt horrified, I felt like if this was okay then what's not okay," said Anderson.

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On May 10, she saw a dog had given birth to a puppy at the animal shelter. She then alerted staff members to get the dog a whelping box.

"I thought everything was handled and a little while later I came back in and I had been in the building back and forth all day and was met with resistance at the door," said Anderson. "That's when I noticed they were collecting the mother from the kennel."

The dog had been put down.

"She had been euthanized while in labor," said Anderson. "Not before, not after, but during."

After trying to express concerns and even speaking with city officials, Anderson said she decided to make the post on Facebook.

Her detailed post had a strong impact on community members, gaining more than 1,500 likes and thousands of shares.

It even prompted threats to the shelter, however Director Richard Havens said there's another side to the story.

"The owners of the dog in question called us at night and called 911 in distress because they were afraid of their own dog," said Havens. "The dog was becoming aggressive to them and their other animals."

He said they then took the dog into custody because it became a matter of public safety.

"The following morning we ended up euthanizing the dog because of the risk of public safety," said Havens. "The dog was aggressive. The owners did not want the dog. They did sign legal custody over to the City of Amarillo and then we processed the dog out the follow morning."

Havens confirmed the dog was in labor at the time she was euthanized.

"At the end of the day, this was the most humane choice," said Havens. "The owners did not want this dog. This dog was not a candidate for adoption. It was not a candidate for foster. It was our decision to put the animal down humanely for public safety."

Havens said euthanizing a dog is never easy for them.

"We never want to euthanize an animal," said Havens. "We take every decision we make here very serious. We are the ones that have to look these animals in the eyes and it breaks our hearts. But if everyone would spay and neuter their animals, be responsible, we wouldn't have to have tough conversations like this."

However Anderson said the dog was not aggressive, and that she was in general population with no note that she was a risk.

"You can blame the community all day for the problems they deal with and at the end of the day the community is responsible for what's in there," said Anderson. "But once that animal is in that facility, they have an obligation to do what's right for the animal in the most humane way possible. And what I saw that day was not humane."

When asked about their policy on euthanizing dogs that are pregnant, Havens said it depends on the situation.

"It's taken by a case-by-case basis with regards to adoptability, how far along to term they are, and then a lot of the medical decisions are also deferred to our on-sight shelter veterinarian who is responsible for the overall herd health of the shelter," said Havens. "At the end of they day, best practices is to spay-abort. This community already has such an overabundance of animals. Why would we ever encourage more animals to be born into this community?"

He said if it weren't for outlying communities, their euthanasia rate would go up by more than 27 percent.

"That would be irresponsible of us to continue to allow animals to be populated," said Havens.

Anderson said she has been asked to take a step back from her volunteer work for now.

Amarillo Animal Management and Welfare said their volunteer organization did not ask her to step back.

However, Larry Milam with the Amarillo-Panhandle Humane Society said her volunteer status is frozen for the time being.

Both she and Havens encourage the public to step up to foster or adopt animals so incidents like this don't happen again.

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