When a lost rottweiler called Shane was spotted wandering around a Georgia neighborhood on August 30, Annabella Flynn-Dempsey says the dog was brought into her fenced yard. Shane played with her three dogs and her grandson tossed a ball until the dog went into nap mode.
“He was just big and fluffy and friendly and just a sweetheart,” Flynn-Dempsey said.
When Gwinnett Co ACO Austin Fetner arrived to pick up Shane, he tried to snare him in a chokepole, which the dog avoided. Then witnesses say, the situation turned violent:
The dog was running past Fetner when, according to Flynn-Dempsey, he “took a full baseball swing” with his catch pole, cracking the rottweiler on the head.
“It was so damn loud,” Flynn-Dempsey said. “One of the neighbors that was behind me said, ‘Oh dear God, did he shoot him?’”
Flynn-Dempsey alleges that Fetner hit the dog with his pole five more times, mostly on the head and face. There was blood everywhere as Shane was finally dragged to Fetner’s truck, she said.
“One neighbor screamed, ‘Why are you beating that dog?’” Flynn-Dempsey said. “He screamed, ‘If you don’t like what I’m doing call my supervisor.’”
The entire ordeal took just 15 minutes.
Shane’s owner, Sabahuddin Grbic, began searching for his lost dog immediately. He visited and called the Gwinnett Co pound several times asking about Shane but was turned away every time with staff telling him that no rottweiler had been impounded. A week later, pound staff finally admitted that Shane had been there all along, characterizing the misinformation as a mix up. Mr. Grbic recognized Shane physically but teared up upon seeing him because he could tell his dog was not the same emotionally:
Shane has since been evaluated by several different veterinarians and animal hospitals. They found scar tissue from an injury inside his eye, as well as a cataract — possibly trauma-induced but impossible to say for sure. Doctors believe his behavioral changes are “caused by emotional trauma and not neurological damage.”
Mr. Grbic says Shane’s tail stays tucked between his legs now, he is wary of strangers and no longer promptly complies with simple commands.
A citizen’s complaint was filed against ACO Fetner and he resigned last month. The Gwinnett Co police department, which runs the pound, is investigating itself in the matter. Neither the pound manager nor Fetner would speak to the Gwinnett Daily Post about the case.
The paper FOIAd the report that Fetner filed on the day that witnesses say he brutally beat Shane without cause. Excerpts from that report:
“I stood in the middle of pen and walked his direction to try and put my pole on the K9. When I got close just the pole between us the K9 growled, showed teeth, and ran my direction. When the 120 (pound) rott ran towards me showing teeth and growling I was in fear for my life and I had to hit the K9 with my pole.”
“The size of the K9 and the small enclosure we were in made me feel that much more uncomfortable and nervous when the K9 ran back and forth and if I did not keep my distance from him with my pole I believe I would have been seriously injured or killed.”
It sounds like Fetner was terrified of the dog. Maybe he could have called the child who had been playing ball with Shane for assistance. Bringing that much negative energy into a situation while using a chokepole to try to ensnare a lost dog in a strange environment is a recipe for disaster. Tragically, multiple witnesses say Shane was the victim of that disaster.
Mr. Grbic has retained an attorney but has no plans to sue the county at this time, choosing instead to wait on the outcome of the police department’s internal investigation. It seems hard to imagine that a department which appears to have attempted to cover up the beating by denying the county had the dog for a full week before finally admitting the truth will be capable of conducting an unbiased investigation. And if I lived in Gwinnett Co, I’d certainly be wondering who else the police are dispatching on calls to pick up lost, napping dogs who got tired out after playing with kids and what tools/weapons they are giving them. How many owners have gone to the Gwinnett Co pound and been told their lost pet isn’t there when in reality, the animal is there, bleeding on the cage floor after having been beaten by a county employee?
(Thanks Clarice for the link.)