On April 20, 2014, MA pet owner Maghan Moynihan says her family’s 2 year old dog Capone escaped through an open door while not wearing his collar. She immediately got in her car, searching for him on every street in the area. She also called Fitchburg ACO Sue Kowaleski, with whom she had established a relationship due to Capone’s previous escapes, to advise that he was lost.
Ms. Moynihan says she didn’t receive a return phone call from the ACO until Tuesday morning. Oddly, the ACO was calling to ask her if Capone had ever been aggressive. Ms. Moynihan said that Capone had absolutely never displayed any aggression and that she trusted the gentle pet with her children, ages 4 and 8. Odder still, the ACO showed up at the Moynihan family’s home a few hours later. This time, the ACO requested Ms. Moynihan and her partner drive down to the pound to identify a stray dog whom the pound had killed for aggression recently. That dog was Capone:
“It was horrible. He was freezing cold. He was on a table. They had a blanket over him. They pulled it down to show us the face. We all lost it in there.”
Ms. Moynihan was heartbroken and wants to know what happened but the pound has provided very little information to date. It is known that Capone got into a building on the day he escaped where a Good Samaritan held onto him until AC arrived. The Good Sam, who was with Capone most of the day, described the dog as being friendly to him and his girlfriend, growling only at their dog and at the ACO who impounded him with a chokepole.
Regarding the circumstances that resulted in Capone’s quick killing:
Amy Egeland, the part-time manager of the Fitchburg Animal Shelter, also said she is unable to comment because of the investigation. The shelter is mostly staffed by volunteers, including Carol Stacy who said Capone was a vicious, aggressive dog that indirectly caused Egeland to be injured and was a known problem animal in another city.
Stacy said Capone was aggressive and tried to escape his cage in front of Egeland and visiting certified animal experts who train and evaluate the visitors. Stacy said Capone got halfway out of his cage and attacked another dog, which became agitated and attacked Egeland.
So it was the other dog, not Capone, who injured the shelter manager. But Capone, having bitten no person, is the one who had to be killed?
He was a problem in another city? Does the city of Fitchburg play the Telephone Game in order to determine which pets they want to kill?
Fitchburg staff and/or vols failed to keep Capone properly confined at the pound and allowed him to get into a fight with another dog they had irresponsibly placed directly in front of his cage. Then they killed him, effectively destroying the evidence of any wrongdoing.
“It wasn’t that sweet little dog people are making it out to be,” said Stacy.
This is how the Fitchburg vols talk about family pets who were killed during the holding period? Just eww.
The city now claims that ACO Kowaleski was sick on the day Capone escaped and did not receive Ms. Moynihan’s message. Though ACO Kowaleski was apparently available to talk on the phone to Ms. Stacy regarding Capone:
She said Kowaleski was notified of what happened but did not see Capone. Kowaleski authorized [Assistant ACO Michael] East to euthanize the animal, Stacy said.
The city of Fitchburg’s website gives ACO Kowaleski’s phone number as the solitary contact for owners to report lost pets. There are no other contact names or numbers. The opening sentence on the pound’s Petfinder page reads:
Fitchburg Animal Shelter holds all stray dogs for 7 days.
I keep going back to that initial phone call to the owner by the ACO on Tuesday morning, asking if Capone was aggressive. Does this whole thing not reek of cover-up?
The city of Fitchburg still has not provided Ms. Moynihan with answers regarding why Capone was killed during the holding period. The city police department is investigating the city AC department in the matter. Ms. Moynihan wants the person who authorized Capone’s killing to be fired. And she wants people to know that her pet was family to her:
“He loved playing with other dogs, he loved playing with the kids. He was just like my son. Just another kid.”
Fitchburg taxpayers, this is your animal “shelter”. Demand that the city staff start doing their jobs to shelter animals and hold lost pets so their owners can reclaim them. Maybe if the city starts doing its job instead of killing owned pets, the pound might attract more compassionate volunteers, which would also be a plus.
(Thanks Clarice and Bonnie for sending me this story.)