Gwinnett Co ACO Under Investigation for Beating Dog

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.”

shane

Shane and his owner, after the attack, as posted on Facebook.

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.)

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16 Comments

  1. No doubt this poor dog was not the first, nor will be the last, to suffer at the hands of those whose job it is to protect and shelter them. I don’t believe, for a minute, what the asshole ACO said. He’s in serious CYA mode and I think that’s clear to everyone. Internal investigation? That’s bullshit.
    (Sorry, that’s the only language that I can muster this morning – so sick of this going on and those in charge doing nothing!)

    Reply
  2. Adrianne Mock

     /  November 18, 2014

    Why WHY do these individuals keep getting a free pass on animal abuse? Pet owners are accused, fined and their animals stolen because of a couple pf dirth teeth and a couple of,poops in a run… yet these guys WILLFULLY, and in front of witnesses abuse gogs (and cats!) yet are nevef held accountable for their actions.

    Reply
  3. izzyvanover

     /  November 18, 2014

    That lying son of a bitch needs to be punished severely and he should never be allowed to work with animals again! I’m sick of reading of the horrific ordeals animals face at the hands of shelter employees! We need total reform to turn this around and staff should be held accountable for its cruelty and lack of care! They need to realize that the public is fed up with this and opt out or follow humane rules! I hate these assholes!

    Reply
  4. One hopes that if criminal charges are not brought against him, the owner will bring civil suit.

    The whole thing is appalling. If he had been able to get medical care for his dog sooner, some of the neurological damage may have been mitigated. But no, they lied about the dog for a week to try to hide it.

    Why isn’t everyone at that pound facing criminal charges?

    Reply
  5. D. Lake

     /  November 18, 2014

    Mr. Grbic, Wait on the asshole to leave work, have a baseball bat ready
    and say he was showing his teeth, lol
    Ready, set, swing……….I will back you 100%

    Reply
  6. I’m surprised the dog wasn’t oops– killed. But the other commenters are right– why do shelter employees continue to get a free pass in these documented and witnessed incidents of horrendous abuse?

    Reply
  7. vida

     /  November 18, 2014

    This is horrible, and I can’t help but wonder how badly this poor dog was treated during his imprisonment. The wildly unbelievable stories that are told by ACOs and LEOs when in cya mode is getting to constant eye roll territory. And that’s a bad thing for all of us, four legged and two legged. I hope the dog recovers over time, I hope that there is some accountability but I don’t expect it.

    Reply
  8. Karen F

     /  November 19, 2014

    It’s not directly relevant, but I’m struck by how well reported and written the Gwinnett Daily Post story is. It’s beautifully simple, as all good writing is, and I like that the reporter gives as much weight to the citizen account as to the official report. It seems very significant that the paper FOIA’d all the ACO’s records — that takes resources and time, so not just the reporter, but his editors cared about this story.

    Reply
  9. I am wondering how these people get the jobs in the first place. Most people who do things like this it is not their first time and they will have a history of it if someone is paying attention and not making excuses for them.

    Reply
  10. It’s so typical that the Police seems to always be investigating itself and I’m sure the investigation will result in “new policies and procedures” to ensure this will never happen again. Sheltering animals is not and should not be a police issue.

    Reply
  11. izzyvanover

     /  November 19, 2014

    The police are full of crap! After all the killings of animals by police, the cruelty continues! We desperately need shelter reform! Animals are treated poorly and it’s past time it stopped!

    Reply
  12. Wow. That ACO ought to face criminal prosecution or at least a civil suit. He ought to never be allowed to come into contact with animals or people. The staff involved in the “miscommunication” ought to be fired as well as the shelter manager. Shameful in every way!

    Reply
  13. Connie Cole

     /  November 19, 2014

    If it had been a citizen that had done this, they would have been arrested & charged with animal abuse/cruelty. I see no difference; this person should be treated likewise. And I hope Shane’s owner does see this through; file charges and sue so that he & his dog will get some sort of justice and perhaps it won’t happen to another dog & owner in that area. So sorry about what happened to your dog.

    Reply
  14. Kelly

     /  November 21, 2014

    I am curious as to why the woman who brought the dog on to her property did not intervene. I would have placed myself between him and the dog and demanded that he leave my property. The woman was under no legal obligation to surrender the dog. She could have just as easily found the owner herself. These people are animal control officers they are not cops and unless they have a warrant to be on your property are bound by law to comply with the demands of the property owner.

    Reply
  15. THIS IS WHY I HATE FUCKING SHELTERS!!!

    Reply
  16. Eileen Hoey

     /  November 22, 2014

    What a creep. He obviously doesn’t like animals so why was he employed to handle animal cases? What a horrible situation for that poor dog.

    Reply

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