When Ace, a senior Chihuahua mix owned by Brian Humphries, dug out of his yard on May 3, his family immediately began looking for him. Ace had walked with a limp since birth but got around very well (obviously!) and was not in any pain. The family searched the neighborhood all weekend and tried the Gaston Co pound, only to find it closed. Mr. Humphries kept checking the pound’s website to see if Ace’s photo had been posted but never saw his beloved pet. When the pound opened Monday morning, Mr. Humphries was there to look for Ace. But pound staff denied that Ace had been picked up by the county.
Since Mr. Humphries was unable to find Ace anywhere, he kept calling the Gaston Co pound, pressing them for information. Finally the pound staff admitted Ace had been picked up on May 4 and killed immediately upon impound. The reason? Ace “wasn’t able to put much weight on the leg” he had limped on his entire life.
The reason that most shelters make exceptions for the mandatory holding period is to avoid forcing a pet who is medically hopeless and suffering to linger in a cage for several days. An example would be a pet who’d been so severely injured by a car that a vet determines there is no reasonable hope of saving the animal’s life. But this was a senior dog who “wasn’t able to put much weight” on one of his legs – hardly a case where immediate euthanasia to prevent further suffering in a medically hopeless animal is required.
Still, when asked by Mr. Humphries for an explanation as to why Ace was killed so quickly, the county police chief e-mailed a response “citing North Carolina law which says the animal can be put down before the minimum holding period is up if the animal is seriously ill or injured.” And Gaston County Animal Control Sgt. Jim Phil classed the whole thing up by blaming the owner:
“There was no kind of ID on this dog,” he said. “If we don’t see that on the dog, it doesn’t do us much good. That’s a responsibility as dictated by the county leash law. If the dog wasn’t running loose, we wouldn’t have picked it up.”
Gosh, the Gaston Co police seem nice.
Mr. Humphries is heartbroken and angry:
“They continued to deny they’d done it,” he said. “If they had given me another 10 to 15 hours from when they picked my dog up, I would’ve been up there to claim him.”
“He might have injured himself getting out of the fence and they could still say, ‘Well he’s injured, so we’re going to kill him.’”
“That was my little buddy, and my daughters’ too,” he said.”
Pets are family. But in Gaston Co, the so-called irresponsible public gets blamed for everything, including the scrapping of a proposal to go no kill last year:
Officials say the problem stems from people not spaying or neutering their pets.
So long as Gaston County officials continue to kill pets and blame the public for the killing, animals will pay the ultimate price. But since the county hasn’t been able to kill and blame its way out of its myriad pound problems so far, maybe they’d be open to trying something different? Maybe doing their jobs even? Or not:
WBTV reached out to Gaston County Animal Services multiple times. They have not returned our calls.
If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.
(Thank you Clarice, Bonnie and Patricia for the links.)