El Paso Shelter Oops-Kills Dogs and They Can’t They Won’t and They Don’t Stop

fox and person
Fox and his person, as shown on the KTSM NBC website.

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.

tank el paso
Tank, as shown on the Fox Baltimore website.

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.)

15 thoughts on “El Paso Shelter Oops-Kills Dogs and They Can’t They Won’t and They Don’t Stop

  1. I too hope the owners sue El Paso and the vet Guanina De La Torre should lose her license. Several years back I was shocked to notice that people who work at the city/county pound where I reside in WA needed no experience to apply for openings, but ALL had to agree to be able to kill animals even if they were just hired to clean cages. I see a present-day vacancy notice in TX describes the Animal Control Officer Trainee position as requiring “no experience” and other frightful parameters: http://agency.governmentjobs.com/houston/job_bulletin.cfm?jobID=1093128&sharedWindow=0

    1. “There are frequent exposures to extreme levels of temperature, air pollution, noise pollution, chemical gases and substances, and/or contagious diseases or physical trauma conditions of a short-term disabling nature, such as broken bones or temporary loss of sight or hearing.” Do job descriptions now have to list the outcome of every possible scenario? They left out drowning from accidentally falling in the toilet.

  2. But… it’s a HARD job that no one really wants to do anyway and there are SO MANY pets coming in and if only the public was more responsible and stuff, accidental killings wouldn’t happen and after all, we all really LOVE animals that’s why we’re here and how much time have you spent volunteering or donating or anything anyway?

    Like a frikken broken record, these places. Tell you what, FIRE the person/people who allow an “accidental” killing to happen and sue the asses off of everyone who took part or was in the least way responsible and you can bet things will change. But no, let’s just keep saying, “Ooops, sorry!” and review our procedures and make sure there’s enough space in the landfill for our mistakes, okay?

    And who the hell kills a dog WEARING TAGS for a broken leg? You’re a VET. Splint and pain meds at the very least. Damn. They probably kill a dog for fleas at this place. Suffering, you know…

  3. WTF? In addition to engaging an attorney, Juan Gudino needs to file an official complaint with the Texas board that governs veterinarians against that obviously incompetent vet, Guanina De La Torre. As you pointed out, a fractured leg is dealt with medically, not with Fatal Plus. The action of De La Torre is incomprehensible. I guess it was easier for her to just murder the animal than to set his leg. With the way things are going I welcome the End of Days.

  4. By using the passive voice – ‘incident’ – they’re not just downplaying the killings, they’re implying that they were the result of circumstance rather than volition. It’s a very common means to avoid taking responsibility & shifting blame. I expect they’re hoping that by implying it was all unfortunate happenstance, we won’t notice that they, the human beings who killed these dogs, were in control of the environment & circumstances in which they did it. Not the dogs. Not the dogs’ owners. Not gremlins. Them.

  5. This is so maddening, and it speaks volumes about the shelter culture there that dogs in the same general category are offered up as though it’s simply a matter of looks. As though they don’t see the dogs as individuals

  6. Huskies, brown and white pits . . . pick one that we haven’t killed yet. I, too, hope both owners sue this place and every single person responsible for the ‘oops’ killings that seem to happen a lot. How many haven’t we heard about. And that vet, the do not harm help animals person, ought to be prevented from being near animals again. So much wrong here . . .

  7. I am an admin on the Lost & Found Ohio Pets Facebook page, and this sort of thing is what my nightmares are made of. We work hard to reunite people with their pets, and we tell them to check their pound in person DAILY, but this kind of thing still happens.

  8. So they killed Tank *before* the ten days were up? Unless they sent his head/remains for testing that was a major criminal law violation. Did anyone bother to contact the person/people Tank allegedly bit to get rabies shots? That would also be against the law if they haven’t.

  9. I wanted to share this to Facebook and I see a link here. This needs to be investigated by ALL proper authorities! To break hearts like this is beyond inhumane. This is just as bad as abuse of any animal.

  10. if I were the VICTIM of the alleged bite I would also sue if the dog in question did not complete the mandatory 10 day quarantine — animals are not 100% protected against disease from any vaccine – even the Rabies vac. in 99.9% of the cases they work fine, but there are animals may not produce sufficient antibodies.

  11. I honestly feel sorry for this. I lost my dog and I know it was at the El Paso Animal Services. After 3 months of looking for him he was nowhere to be found. It is awkward and weird that they posted any pictures of him online and I checked the kennels twice two different times and unfortunately was nowhere to be found. I was told EP Animal Services took him. I know they don’t follow the uthanization protocol because am sure they kill him before the 10 days. They don’t really update the pictures online and have dogs hidden waiting to be euthanize because nobody claim them. This makes me sick.

    1. I mean they never update the website pictures online nor daily. Nearly do it after the vacations. This causes miscommunication too and poor performance. I’m sad for my dog. I saw a vision where he was crying.

Leave a Reply