In October, Juan Gudino was worrying over his lost dog, Fox. The five year old German shepherd had been missing for two days and to Mr. Gudino, he was family. He was very relieved when he received a call from El Paso Animal Services letting him know Fox was at the shelter. He dropped what he was doing in order to immediately head to the shelter to pick up Fox and bring him home. Upon arrival, Mr. Gudino was shown three German shepherds, none of whom was Fox. There could not have been any mix-up as Fox had been impounded wearing his collar and ID tag and the shelter had called the owner from that info. So where was Fox?
It turns out, despite Fox having his ID tag, despite the shelter calling the owner and despite the fact that the owner was on his way to reclaim his pet, the vet at El Paso decided to kill Fox because of a fractured leg and a lack of
professionalism communication compassion everything:
Guanina De La Torre is the veterinarian who authorized the euthanization. She says Fox’s death is a result of miscommunication between the office.
“If I had known that there was an owner, I would have not made the decision on my own. And we’re working on systems to improve our communication within the shelter,” says De La Torre.
De La Torre said that while she doesn’t regret making the decision to kill Fox, she would not have done so if she had known he had an owner.
Here’s the problem. Here are all the problems:
- Fractured legs in dogs are generally treatable. You know who treats them? Vets.
- Euthanasia is only appropriate when an animal is deemed medically hopeless and suffering by a veterinarian. Had De La Torre examined Fox and determined he was medically hopeless and suffering? If not, why did she kill the dog?
- Does the vet at El Paso Animal Services you know, check with anyone before killing a dog to ask any questions like say, is any owner racing over here right now thinking he’s going to be reunited with his lost family member? Protocol should dictate a system of checks with multiple shelter staff being involved in verifying a pet’s identity before any action is taken against an animal which can’t be undone. Does El Paso adopt out pets without verifying there isn’t any known owner? I hope not. And if they don’t, why do they kill pets without verifying same? The former is not easily reversed and the latter – not at all.
- What the hell is up with the staff showing the owner three other German shepherds before figuring out their vet had killed his? Oh you’re here for a GSD? Here are some. They are interchangeable, yes?
- How many other pets have been killed at El Paso because of this unprofessional and outright alarming lack of communication?
I don’t know the answer to that last question except to say: at least one.
A few weeks ago, a dog owner received a call from El Paso Animal Services advising her that her brown pitbull, Tank, had gotten out of his yard and bitten a person. He would have to be quarantined for ten days. The owner waited ten days then went to the shelter on March 6 to reclaim Tank. After the proper paperwork was completed, staff brought out a brown pitbull and gave him to the family:
“Right away my husband said this is not our dog, you need to take him back and give us back our dog.”
She said the dog was a skinny, dark brown and looked different than her dog, Tank.
“I pulled out my phone. I showed them a picture of my dog and the veterinarian came out and said, ‘OK we’re sorry we’ll go ahead and find your dog.'”
She said she was told they couldn’t find her dog, but to come back tomorrow.
Dang, these owners must be the snooty, “only our dog will do” type. Apparently brown pitbulls are not as interchangeable as German shepherds.
The owner returned and met with a supervisor:
“As soon as we sat down, he said that there was no easy way of telling me, but that they had accidentally euthanized the wrong dog,” she said. “That they had confused him with another pit bull that was brown and had killed him.”
Oops. El Paso had killed Tank before his ten day quarantine had expired:
She was told her dog got moved from his cage and switched with another dog scheduled to be euthanized.
Oops. The owner is understandably distraught and considering legal action:
“I believe they should have a better system. Maybe separate the quarantine animals from the animals that need to be euthanized,” she said.
Ya think? El Paso’s multi-person, multi-check system to verify pets’ identification before killing appears to be non-existent. Like their sense of responsibility:
KDBC requested an on-camera interview with the City of El Paso, but they declined. Instead they issued the following statement:
“Animal Services did erroneously euthanize a dog that had been quarantined at the shelter as a result of a biting incident. We sincerely apologize to the family for the loss of their pet. Animal Services is investigating the incident and will take corrective measures necessary to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.”
Similar incidents. I like that. It’s not killing someone’s family member out of incompetence, it’s an incident. Like the cashier getting your coffee order wrong after you told him twice. Although they presumably meant to say “similar more again incidents that we can’t stop doing” but that’s probably just me being picky. Oh and nice taunt putting that “biting incident” right there in the first sentence to make sure everyone knows Tank was not a good dog so no big whoop. Just taking out the trash for you, El Paso. You’re welcome.
I hope the owner sues their lazy, inept asses.
(Thanks Clarice for the links.)