Central CA SPCA Oops-Kills Family Dog

Scar, as shown on the KMPH website.

On September 24, the Del Rio family’s dog – a Pitbull called Scar – escaped the yard wearing his collar and ID tag. A Pitbull hating neighbor took the 11 month old puppy to the Central California SPCA and told them he’d been bitten by Scar. Owner Helen Del Rio went to the pound to get her dog back but instead she got one story after another from the staff: Scar bit the neighbor, he bit a cat, he killed a dog. Finally, they told her they’d investigate what really happened.

As you may have guessed, the investigation determined the neighbor was lying. And there was no cat bite or dog killing either. So the pound called Ms. Del Rio on October 11 to come down and pick up Scar:

“Grabbed his leash, ready to take our dog home. We get there and they can’t find him. They call the supervisor out, the supervisor’s going from building to building,” Helen said. “Then Officer Boyce comes in and calls me over and says he’s been euthanized; just like that. He didn’t even say sorry, he was just like, basically with an expression on his face like, it happens.”

Ms. Del Rio later received a letter from the pound apologizing – not for killing Scar – but for “our failure in insuring the return of your family pet to you.”  The letter also promised more training for staff (where have we heard that before?) and a free pet (ditto).

Ms. Del Rio is heartbroken and can’t stop thinking about Scar being walked to the kill room at the pound:

“I kept thinking that what was he thinking when they were going to take him for a walk?”

The Central CA SPCA would not respond to the TV station’s request for comment but people who left comments on the online article state that this is not an isolated incident at the pound.

18 thoughts on “Central CA SPCA Oops-Kills Family Dog

  1. Is it just me or was anyone else most troubled by the offer of an organization that allegedly exists to “shelter” animals, of a free pet instead of having any compassion, understanding or acknowledgment that our pets are not replaceable things?

  2. Friendly dog wearing collar and ID tag and no one with a needle in their hand says, “Wait a minute, maybe this isn’t what I should be doing?”


  3. And yet another incident in which a neighbor caught and surrendered a pet, giving false information, in the belief – the correct belief – that the facility would kill him.

    So – these people are using our disfunctional shelter system for criminal purposes, to kill their neighbor’s pets with minimal risk – I’ve yet to read of a case where there were any serious consequences – and the facilities are allowing it. Why?

  4. Guess I am not the only person & cats who have been victims of MURDER by the SPCA you should try Jefferson Parish SPCA for the same kind of treatment & a cat hating Jehovah’s Witness neighbor it has been 10 years & my family has NEVER healed from this horror.

    1. It’s not necessary to identify the religious beliefs of the neighbor. Cat haters can be found in a variety of shapes and sizes. I’m sorry for your loss.

    1. Not just lazy, Dot. Nasty. What sort of ‘human being’ would rather kill a dog than send him home? Would this have happened had Scar been any other kind of dog?

  5. Unfortunately, at this SPCA pound the breed would have made only a slight difference. Purebred dogs are routinely killed there, even Beagles, Bassets, Boxers, Shih tzus, Shar peis, Poodles, you name it.

    It would take at least two or three people overlooking the dogs quarantine status for a tragedy like this to happen. But with a kill rate of 80%, the routine is to move animals through the system and to the kill room.

    Thank you, and other national advocates for shining the light on this tragedy. We are working hard to change sheltering in Central California (Fresno).

  6. Tonight I learned not to read Yesbiscuit on my phone, while in public. I felt so bad for this family and their dog, I started to cry. This really has to stop.

    1. No, Laura, that’s not what you need to learn. What you need to do instead is to hand your phone to the person sitting next to you on the bus, in the queue, at your work station and let them see what has brought you to tears.
      This is not something we can shrink from if we really expect it to stop. Don’t be embarrassed by your tears, be embarrassed if you fail to show the world why you are crying.
      Share, share, share.

  7. omg – how much – how many – how often – can this continue… How? Because citizens are not publically outraged! Bright lights have to be shone on this facility and others!

  8. This is awful. I dont know who is worse, the people in the shelter, or the neighbor who purposefully brought the dog in.

  9. I read online that the Lancaster Animal Control Shelter seized animals because it was paid to silence the alleged owner. That person has denied owning an animals but the DA says she had a moral responsibility to provide the basic necessities such as water and food. 2 testimony one from a woman who is convicted on numerous fraud charges who advertised on Craigslist as a housekeeper and a Sgt. from the Lancaster Animal Control. The convict in handcuffs testified that the alleged owner had hired and paid her $2000 to clean a property that had animals on it. She went to the Animal Control on the very first day because she says she saw animals without food or water. The alleged owner published online phone text messages from the convict and several members of her family who had repeatedly threated acts of violence and contacting animal control because they wanted more money. Animal Control Sgt. testified the cats were ill with 12 different diseases she couldn’t determine how old the 12 she examined were but that they appeared skinny. 2 expert witnesses hired by the alleged owner says that sick cats can appear skinny even if food is provided. The alleged owner provided receipts for food she bought for the animals as well as vet receipts and their reports demonstrating the animals were fed and if they needed medical attention they received it. The Sgt. testified she had destroyed the animals after having them for 3 days.

    Employees of this facility got in touch with the alleged owner and provided her with images of what appears to be dead dogs they claim were shot with a gun while they were in cages at their facility. Video reports of this same shelter show animals inside cages at this facility with no water and food, looking frail and when the cameraman said something to one of the staff they reacted with indifference.

    The hardest thing as far as working with animals … is to explain to people that, in order to prosecute someone successfully, you have to prove intent. It’s difficult to prove that someone did something intentionally to harm an animal. It’s also necessary to prove the animal has been mistreated in some way. Just because you see a skinny cat or empty bowl you can’t walk in and seize animals. In this case if we were to believe the testimony of these 2 witnesses if the Sgt. really believed the animals were in gave danger meaning being tortured and killed they had an obligation to go in at that moment and seize those animals. Instead they waited a month to execute a raid, why wait so long if these animals were being starved/abused?

    Online I have viewed receipts for food the alleged owner provided to these animals, I am not talking about a one time deal, rather a receipt showing over $600 of food was delivered to the animals on that property. It is alleged the food alone averaged about $500-700 per month and the store records seem to vouch for the alleged woman’s credibility. I also viewed online a Vet report of how the alleged woman took in stray cats who wandered onto the property and spent money on medicine/care for that animal doing it all it says out of her own pocket. This woman now faces 4 felony counts for basically not providing food, water or medical care to animals that someone from the Lancaster Animal Shelter claims happened who testified to this being a real fact when of course it wasn’t. This shelter murdered the animals seized from this property in Lancaster and to grind the knife deeper the Sgt. from this shelter sent the alleged owner an email asking about the animals after having killed them leading the alleged owner to believe the animals were still alive when they weren’t. I have read the transcripts because they have been uploaded on the web and the images of dead dogs lying on the cement floor of their cages at this facility are images that are to say the least appalling.

    We have to tread those waters carefully, we also have to watch that, when shelters are contacted about animal cruelty, it’s not just someone being vindictive or having their own agenda.

    A humane officer also can’t march onto someone’s property and take an animal that seems to be in distress yet this agency waited a month and testified that they knew animals were being starved/abused yet they did nothing. The only way that can happen is if the animal is in imminent danger and on the brink of death. People have rights, and pets are considered property. We have to respect that. If the animals seized by Lancaster Animal Control were in imminent danger then why wait a month to do something?

    Issues of animal cruelty aren’t always obvious — it’s not just someone beating an animal or keeping one in a tiny cage.

    For instance, a dog that is kept outside needs constant access to water and shelter yet the testimony of the Lancaster Animal Shelter representative said on the morning of the raid there was no food or water yet her own agency and I have viewed the videos (yes there are more than one) online show animals without water in their cages or food some of those animals at that facility look skinny and appear to have no energy to even move. What seems like cruelty to one person might not be cruelty under the law. We, as pet owners who love our animals unconditionally, want to give them 5-star hotel accommodations. Others just give them the minimum care — it might be all they can afford.

    We have to follow the law, not our opinions that might not be the way we would take care of an animal, but as long as it’s within the guidelines of the law.

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