When Karen Lopez went out of town and learned her dog Red had accidentally escaped her yard and been taken to Houston’s BARC shelter, she reacted as many of us probably would. She contacted the shelter immediately on September 25 – the same day Red was impounded. She assured the shelter her beloved family member was wanted and she would be picking him up as soon as she returned to Houston on October 1. She gave her contact information just in case the shelter needed to reach her for any reason.
I can imagine Ms. Lopez might have felt relieved to know Red was in a safe haven and not possibly getting into trouble somewhere. It wasn’t as good as him being home, but it was the next best thing. Or at least it should have been.
But when Ms. Lopez tried to redeem her pet on October 1, a supervisor told her BARC had killed Red on September 29, as soon as the mandatory stray holding period had expired. Oops. A heartbroken Ms. Lopez told the supervisor that Red was not a stray, that she had called to claim him and that the city had taken her contact information as Red’s owner.
“He had no reason, no explanation but he did say they had failed to look at the police report and that (they thought) he was a stray,” Lopez said.
BARC says Red had bite marks on his face and the stray hold was up. So kill, obviously.
BARC investigated itself in the matter and has reportedly instituted changes in “the way personnel communicates with medical staff and 311 operators, who usually handle calls from people reporting stray dogs and owners looking for their pets.” These changes are aimed at avoiding additional oops-killings of owned pets. Who knows, maybe they’ll help. Or maybe BARC could stop using killing as its default and start doing its job to shelter animals. Bite marks and stray status, erroneous or not, should not be an automatic death sentence. Pets are family. Shelters such as BARC need to start treating them that way.
(Thank you Clarice for the link.)