NC Shelter Kills Microchipped Lost Dog While Owners Search for Her

It seems like I’ve written this post a thousand times.  Maybe I need to develop a template where I can simply fill in the lost pet’s name, the name of the shelter that killed him, the list of screw-ups that lead up to the killing and the list of people being blamed (which as it happens, never includes those doing the actual killing).  Every one of these needless killings is heartbreaking.  And here we are again.

Bella, as pictured on the abc11 website.
Bella, as pictured on the ABC11 website.

A social media post from Donna Sugar says that her chow mix Bella got lost while they were visiting friends in Durham, NC on November 2.  Bella was 14 years old and, like most large dogs her age, had a little trouble with her rear legs.

The family immediately went searching for her, posted fliers, hired two trackers, listed her as lost on the Animal Protection Society of Durham website and visited the shelter.  They never found Bella, even though she was at APS at the time they visited and she was microchipped.  APS killed Bella 26 hours after impound, citing health reasons.

A Good Samaritan found Bella wandering on the street shortly after she’d gotten lost.  She took the dog to a local vet the next day to have her scanned for a chip.  The phone number registered to the chip was no good and the Good Sam was not allowed to have a dog at her apartment so she called the sheriff’s office to pick up Bella.  A deputy took Bella to APS around 9pm.  He noted in his report that he had scanned Bella for a chip and contacted the registration company for contact info but they only had old info.  (The owner says this is incorrect as her home address was current.)  He also listed the owner’s name as Peggy Edwards which again, is not what the chip registration company had on file, nor is it the name of any known person connected with Bella.  When filling out the impound receipt, which was left with Bella at APS, the deputy left the microchip portion blank.

Bella was left, reportedly friendly and healthy, but with incorrect information on her impound receipt, at APS on the night of November 3.  By the morning of November 4, Bella was having extreme difficulty getting up and walking, per APS staff.  No one scanned her for a chip.

Ms. Sugar’s daughter had visited APS looking for Bella on November 3 and returned on November 4.  She brought a large picture of Bella with her to see if anyone at APS recognized her.  No one did.  She again searched the shelter but did not see her dog.  APS had Bella hidden from view in an area off limits to the public, due to her difficulty walking.

That night, APS staff made the determination that Bella was suffering and, instead of bringing her to a vet, they chose to kill her.  The tech reportedly scanned for a chip prior to the killing but did not find one.

Bella’s family is heartbroken.  Aside from forgetting to update the phone number listed with the chip registration company, they believe they did everything right.  I agree.  And even if they hadn’t, it was still APS’s responsibility to get Bella home.  It’s no good for APS to point fingers at the deputy for the bad info he supplied on Bella’s paperwork. He was at fault, but he didn’t kill Bella.

APS should have checked the lost dog listings on their own website against strays in their shelter.  APS should have scanned for and found Bella’s chip upon impound.  APS should have sent a letter (or a person, if feasible) to the address listed on Bella’s chip.  APS should have recognized Bella from her picture when the owner came searching for her (and even if they didn’t, they should have shown the owner every dog who they thought bore even the vaguest resemblance to the one in the photo).  APS should have shown the owner every dog in the facility when she was searching – even those who couldn’t walk or were being hidden from the public for any other reason.  APS should have taken Bella to a veterinarian when they determined she was in dire need of medical care. APS should have found the chip during the scan that was supposedly performed prior to killing Bella.

And for our standard ending: No one is being fired for killing Bella, the shelter will modify its protocols, blahcetera.

Killing shelter pets is not a thing that just happens. It’s a choice made by shelter directors. And it shouldn’t even be an option.

(Thanks Lisa.)

15 thoughts on “NC Shelter Kills Microchipped Lost Dog While Owners Search for Her

  1. I want to note that the Durham APS, which has an annual budget of almost $1 million, has an on-staff vet, so they didn’t even have to take Bella anywhere to be examined. The APS management like to brag that they don’t kill “adoptable” pets, which is of course a lie they back up by using a very broad definition of “unadoptable.” Also, check out their “shelter FAQs” page, where they peddle tired old lies about No Kill to justify their killing:

  2. Again and again. I hope that the owner sues their asses off because that’s the ONLY thing that makes these people change their casual-killing ways.

    ALL animals should be scanned on intake. Always. Doesn’t matter if someone scanned before, doesn’t matter what you’re told, you SCAN. And you make sure that your SCANNER IS WORKING before you do – I’ve seen with my own eyes shelter workers scan a cat and find no chip – this is TWO different shelter workers with TWO different scanners (because the surrender form said that the cat had a chip and I wanted the number before leaving the building with the cat). Did either scanner have working batteries in it? No idea. But I can tell you that the vet found the chip instantly the very next day, so WTF is going on with the shelter scanners?

    Assuming that the shelter here isn’t lying about scanning her before killing her. Which, I really have to question. Because people who casually kill dogs also lie. A lot.

    But hey, we all love animals and we’re doing our best, right?


  3. So heartbreaking and maddening. I can’t know for sure if it’s incompetence or evil. Perhaps it’s both.

  4. I know this has happened where I live over & over. Yet just recently it was discovered that pregnant females were were given abortions. They say they are striving for no-kill status but say it will take them 4 years to achieve it. Right. Such bull.

  5. Makes me mad enough to want to slap someone. Or several someones. Starting to wonder if these places get paid by the body…

  6. I hope they punish them and hold them responsible for what they did to Bella plus probably more dog’s there we are their voice.I know her family is hurt.

  7. This is horrible but I do want to point out that saying “they should have found the chip when they scanned her prior to euthanasia” isn’t really an argument. I work at a shelter and we scan every animal at least 4 times but we have had chips not register on the first scan only to pop up on the second scan. So that does happen. No excuse for that happened in this situation, but people should be aware that chips don’t always register, hence why the multiple scannings should be mandatory. I feel so sorry for this family :(

  8. I unfortunately am very aware what this family is going through, in AZ the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control MURDERED my 18yr old girl. We have a stray hold law of 72hrs……. They ptd he within an HOUR, for similar reasons this poor baby was killed. We have an ongoing case currently. TJERE SHOULD BE CONSEQUENCES FOR LAWS BROKE. They have no idea what we are going through as a family. I’m so very very sorry for your pain and loss. I can’t say it gets any easier, as of now 10 months later, it’s far from easy. Please look at our page if there’s anything you feel that can help you. We can use all the support as well…… Justice4Roxie @ Roxie’s Rights Facebook page. I pray for your pain to ease and you get the Justice your baby deserves, Corinne

  9. Can’t even count on “humane shelters”. So very sad that we live I. A day and age that no one wants to do good or help others. They just do t want to be bothered and stand for nothing but being focused on themselves and have hardening of the heart. 😰
    Poor Bella and those that loved her and searched for her and all the other pets and the unwanted. May God protect them each and everyone.

  10. It’s clear Triangle Magazine is deleting any comments stronger than “I’m sad” or that point out the epic failures of the “shelter”. So I went back to the original picture that they had shared.

    As much as they are harping about an outdated phone number being on the primary, there was an alternate contact. All information for that contact was up to date. As was the chip number itself on the paperwork, even if the ACO wrote down the wrong name. So they didn’t even have to scan for a chip. All they had to do was pick up the phone and call the chip company for themselves. They answer 24/7.

  11. I want so bad these hell holes and their resident electeds who allow this to be sued into oblivion.

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