On Friday, April 13, 2012, an 8 month old dog called Zeus was surrendered to Hernando Co Animal Services in FL. It was 4:15pm and volunteer Laurie Boynton was getting ready to leave for the day. Before she did, she snapped a photo of Zeus and spent a few minutes playing with the dog. After arriving home, she posted Zeus’ photo on Facebook and an adopter contacted her, making arrangements to pick up the dog on Monday. Unbeknownst to Ms. Boynton or the potential adopter, the pound had killed Zeus 15 minutes after intake.
[I]n a memo to [Director of Public Safety Mike] Nickerson, [Code Enforcement and Animal Services Manager Liana] Teague said Zeus was euthanized due to space and fearfulness. The dog wouldn’t even walk on a leash, she said.
“At the time that Zeus came in we had zero pens and were just beginning euthanasia for the afternoon,” she wrote.
But Ms. Boynton says space was not an issue:
“When I left the shelter at 4:25, there were 10 empty kennels out of 58, and one dog was being returned to its owner,” she wrote. “On top of that, only eight kennels had more than one dog in them, and those were just the small dogs. The shelter closed at 4:30.”
Further, Ms. Boynton says she observed a staffer dragging Zeus down the hall by the neck without even attempting to get him to walk on his own. And that any evaluation to determine adoptability could not have been properly conducted in such a short period of time.
Mr. Nickerson counters that it takes just a few minutes to evaluate a dog. And he says the volunteer must have gotten the wrong impression about empty cages at the pound because a bunch of dogs had just been killed which of course, freed up space. (Please no one ask me how that statement makes any sense. I got nothing.) Oh and that dragging-down-the-hall-by-the-neck thing? He’s got good news on that too:
“The dog was not, in our estimation, dragged the entire way by its neck.”
The Hernando Co pound has a written agreement with a local nonprofit to hold all animals, including both strays and owner surrenders, for 7 days. The killing of Zeus appears to violate that agreement. An investigation was initiated by the county to determine the facts of the case.
Two weeks later, Mr. Nickerson declined to evaluate Ms. Teague’s work performance despite the fact that she was due for her annual review mandated by the county:
“I really don’t have a reason, to tell you the truth,” he said.
At a town hall meeting on May 8, about 150 people showed up to speak for the county’s homeless animals and specifically to find out what was being done in the aftermath of Zeus’ killing:
Since the Zeus incident, the county has enacted a seven-day hold on any dog or cat brought to the agency.
Gee, the 7 day hold the county already had in place with the local nonprofit didn’t protect Zeus then, how will it protect other pets in future?
The sheriff recently offered to absorb the county’s 4 ACOs into his department but wants no part of the stinkbomb that is the pound:
“We would not be interested in dealing with that,” he said of the shelter, where animals are frequently euthanized.
This Friday will mark 8 weeks since Zeus was dragged by the neck and killed at Hernando Co Animal Services. The county’s investigation has yet to be completed.