Tyson, a 5 year old Pitbull mix, was at a shelter in Attleboro, MA for 6 months, waiting to be adopted. During that time, he became a favorite at the shelter and a volunteer described him as a “lovebug”.
On August 28, Tyson was adopted and his new owner took him to visit a friend in Providence, RI. While there, Tyson slipped his leash and ran off. The owner immediately notified local police and animal control.
More than a dozen people, including volunteers from the shelter where Tyson had become so beloved, offered to help search for him. The volunteers hit the streets early the next morning, searching the area for 4 days, posting hundreds of fliers and contacting the local ACOs multiple times each day to ask if any dog matching Tyson’s description had been seen. The volunteers repeatedly got the same negative answer, peppered with derisive comments about how Tyson was “one of those dogs”. The searchers refused to give up because in fact, Tyson was one of those dogs – a special canine friend who had earned the love and devotion of those he met.
As it turns out, the ACOs did know where Tyson was the entire time – in their freezer.
A Providence resident responded to one of the many fliers in the area. He told the searchers that a dog who looked like Tyson had been hit by a car the night he went missing and limped into his yard about 1 am. He tried to make the dog comfortable while waiting for AC to arrive. The ACO picked up Tyson an hour later and loaded him into the van.
Armed with this knowledge, the volunteers were able to piece together the events that followed.
The ACO took Tyson to a vet and told the vet he suspected Tyson had parvo, due to an odor he could smell on the dog. Tyson, who suffered from irritable bowel disease, had in fact been vaccinated for parvo at the shelter in Attleboro. The vet performed a SNAP test – which are well known for being unreliable as a sole diagnostic tool for parvo – and it came back positive. The ACO told the vet to kill Tyson right there in the back of the van. This was done and Tyson was brought back to the Providence shelter, his body tossed in the freezer. Remember – all this occurred the same day Tyson went missing – after the owner had reported him missing to authorities and just hours before the team of searchers showed up with fliers and inquiries.
When confronted with this information, the ACOs admitted the events. But they followed the admission with another lie – that Tyson had been immediately cremated due to his highly contagious status. That lie was exposed as well and the shelter volunteers viewed Tyson’s body to confirm it was him. They requested Tyson’s body be given to their ACO to take home to Attleboro with them. Providence AC refused. The volunteers then requested their shelter vet be allowed to take samples from Tyson’s body to be tested for parvo. Again, Providence AC refused, saying Tyson was in the incinerator at that very moment.
The Attleboro shelter tested all their dogs for parvo since Tyson had been play buddies with all but two of them. All negative. A lawsuit has now been filed alleging the AC unit broke the law in how they handled Tyson:
[…]Rhode Island law requires animal control officers to keep a dog for at least five days and make “every possible reasonable effort” to contact its owner.
They are also required to put up notices in three locations, including the city clerk’s office.
None of that was done, according to the suit.
Euthanasia because of an illness that endangers people or other animals can be authorized by the director of the Department of Environmental Management if he determines the dog’s health to be a danger to humans or other animals. There was no indication that was done, either.
Providence AC has a history with parvo and Pitbull type dogs:
A story published in The Providence Journal in July described how 21 of 23 pit bulls were euthanized at the Providence shelter, which claimed it was having a problem with the spread of parvovirus.
The ACO who “diagnosed” Tyson with parvo, ordered him killed, then repeatedly denied to searchers that he knew anything about the dog they were looking for issued a comment via e-mail. It reads, in part:
“I am committed to ensuring that animals in our care are treated with the upmost [sic] care and compassion.”
Compassion is a virtue. It describes the deep feelings of empathy and sympathy for the suffering of others. A compassionate person wishes to act in order to eliminate or at least lessen another’s suffering. Just so we’re straight.
Thank you Nathan Winograd for the heads up on this story.