Jon Broadwell never gave up hope that he would find his English setter, called Cody, who became lost in February 2014. He was still posting ads about Cody last December when someone on Craigslist saw the lost dog notice and realized her family had adopted Cody from Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue (SPDR). Cody had reportedly been impounded by a shelter while lost, pulled by SPDR and adopted to this family. Upon learning that Cody’s previous owner still very much wanted him back, the family decided to return the dog to SPDR so he could be reunited with Mr. Broadwell. An SPDR representative advised Mr. Broadwell he needed to fill out an adoption application in order to get his pet back:
“I just thought it was a formality, that I would reapply, and I would get the pet,” Broadwell said.
Instead, SPDR responded to Mr. Broadwell’s application by mail, telling him in a letter that the group had killed Cody “due to escalating displays of aggression”.
“I was just totally shocked when they sent that letter out,” Broadwell said.
No doubt. Gretchen Schumacher with SPDR explained the circumstances surrounding Cody’s killing to KIRO:
Schumacher said a Seattle Purebred volunteer handling Cody’s case moved the dog to a foster home instead of working with Broadwell, as she should have. At the foster home, the dog showed some aggression and the volunteer made the decision to have the dog put down.
Whoa. Apparently SPDR volunteers have complete discretion and total authority to withhold lost pets from their owners and have the dogs killed instead. The SPDR rep would had to have known that the dog had been returned to SPDR for the sole purpose of reuniting Cody with his original owner. Sending the dog to a foster home is inexplicable.
Further, Cody could not have possibly been at this foster home for any significant length of time. Dogs aren’t normally killed for “escalating displays of aggression” unless a judge orders it or the rescue group has exhausted all rehabilitative efforts over an extended period of time, can not find another qualified party to work with the dog, and the board of directors all agree upon the killing. Cody obviously didn’t fall into either category which makes the explanation offered that much more puzzling. On top of all this, to send a letter to the original owner who thought he was getting his long lost pet back only to find out by mail that his beloved dog had been killed – it’s mind boggling.
SPDR has publicly apologized for killing Cody and fired the volunteer who took his life. In order to rebuild trust with the community, the group will need to do more. Clear directives must be given to all volunteers defining what actions may be taken without consent of the board and what actions require the board’s consent. SPDR needs to reassure the public that dogs are not killed for convenience under its policies nor are lost pets kept from their owners. And I don’t think a mail campaign is going to do the trick. As a pet owner, I know I wouldn’t want to open any letters from SPDR.
(Thank you Anne for the link.)