A 10 year old German shorthaired pointer got lost in Elgin, OK last month. While searching for her pet, owner Teri Bartosovsky received a response via social media from someone who said she had found Major and taken him to the local ACO’s home. Ms. Bartosovsky contacted the ACO, Daniel Linthicum, about getting her dog back:
When first confronted by the dog’s owner, the animal control officer said he never had the dog. After being pressed further, he admitted the dog was taken to the shelter, but that he had escaped or was stolen. It turns out that was a lie too.
Ms. Bartosovsky grew suspicious at the changing stories and felt the ACO knew where Major was but was keeping that information from her.
“I told him if my dog was dead, he needed to tell me that,” said Bartosovsky.
She says Linthicum told her that her dog Major wasn’t dead, and that he was making it a priority to find him.
Ms. Bartosovsky decided to go the Elgin pound herself on Christmas Eve. Outside, she found a pit filled with dead squirrels and other animals, empty kibble bags and a number of black plastic trash bags. It disturbed her and she couldn’t stop thinking about the pit, even while on her family’s vacation. The family decided to come home early in order to look inside the trash bags in the pit. That’s when they discovered the remains of their pet, covered in bloody wounds.
The ACO then came up with another story: that Major had been brought to the shelter too weak to walk, left in a kennel, and found dead the next day – the victim of an attack by a pitbull. The ACO says he lied to the owner in order to spare her the knowledge of her pet’s violent end.
The story didn’t add up to Ms. Bartosovsky. Although Major’s body was torn up, he had no wounds on his neck and his ears appeared to have been cut off, not torn as if by an attacking dog. She has sent Major’s remains to a vet school for a necropsy, hoping to get more information.
For the time being, Bartosovsky says Linthicum’s lies are inexcusable and that he needs to be removed from his position, and may get her wish. Linthicum says after this incident, he plans to step down from the job after he was made out to be a monster.
A couple of basic questions I think need to be answered are whether the finder who took Major to the ACO verifies that the dog was too weak to walk and how the alleged attacking dog was able to access a dog in such a state at the pound. If the ACO isn’t taking reasonable steps to at least protect defenseless dogs from further harm while at the pound, what other basic protections might he be neglecting? How many other owners of lost pets have been lied to in order to spare their feelings? Is the case being investigated for possible criminal wrongdoing? Because it’s incredibly hard to imagine a private citizen offering up these various lies over a dead dog covered in blood and being allowed to walk away.
KSWO reports that the ACO has not resigned but is not currently working. The next city hall meeting is scheduled for January 13 and the pound is on the agenda.
(Thanks Arlene for the link.)
UPDATE, added January 7: The city of Elgin has closed the pound. The Department of Environmental Quality has ordered the dead animal/trash pit to be emptied and not used again. The city is going to look for a new ACO. The current ACO’s contract is “on hold”. The pitbull who allegedly attacked and killed Major got in through a hole in the fence. The article references “broken fencing surrounding each kennel” which is to be repaired. There are still 3 dogs at the pound but the city is working on getting them into homes. No more animals will be brought in until the city gets the situation sorted. Zero on the criminal investigation front. Because I guess you know, it’s just a pit of dead animals, a rogue mystery pitbull who specializes in sneak attacks under cover of darkness, a lying city employee and whatever. Prolly everything’s fine legal-wise.
I love that no one in the city was aware of what the hell was going on at this place until a citizen dove into the pit to find her lost pet and the news did a story on it. Well done, Elgin.
(Thanks Clarice for the update link.)