Pet euthanized before hold ended at Shoals shelter

Published: Aug. 1, 2013 at 12:19 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 29, 2013 at 1:11 AM CDT
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Rosco was euthanized less than 24 hours after being picked up in Colbert County.
Rosco was euthanized less than 24 hours after being picked up in Colbert County.

COLBERT COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - A Shoals family is speaking out after their dog was euthanized less than 24 hours after being picked up in Colbert County. The move violated state law, which requires shelters to hold impounded dogs for at least seven days.

Mary and Keith Bullington said that when their dog, Rosco, didn't come home, they got concerned and started looking for him. Mary said she went to the shelter the next day with a photo and had been told the dog wasn't there and that workers hadn't seen it.

After seeing a photo of Rosco posted to the Colbert County Animal Shelter's facebook page, Keith and his son went to pick up their dog the next day. "I said we're here to pick Rosco up. She said, 'I can't talk to you right now.' She got real upset and she was crying and started walking out the door and I said, 'look, I need to find out something about my dog.'"

Keith said the shelter workers gave him the run-around about his dog, at one point he'd even been told the dog was placed into a foster home.

After demanding answers for more than an hour, Bullington said the shelter's supervisor finally showed up.

Shelter workers euthanized Rosco around 8 a.m. Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the dog was picked up and brought in - a clear violation of the Alabama dog laws which states impounded dogs and cats must be held for at least seven days.

"He never said I'm sorry that was the wrong thing to do, we apologize, he just never apologized, he never admitted they did anything wrong," Keith said.

The Bullingtons feel Rosco's death could have easily been avoided, and still have unanswered questions and concerns about what goes on inside the shelter. "What was the reason that they killed our dog who was intelligent, well kept, friendly and very loving? Why would they pick him up one day and kill him the next for no reason?"

The supervisor of the Colbert County Animal Shelter, Richie Michael, admits the shelter did not follow regulations and put the dog down before the seven days were up.

Michael said it's a mistake that should have never happened and that he is working with the animal shelter board to conduct an internal investigation into the case.

He said his employees and volunteers are now being extra cautious when it comes to checking animals at the shelter and that they've even started a lost and found log for animals and their owners.

"We were supposed to hold it for seven days, we did not hold it for seven days. It got put down the following day. It's a mistake, it's a horrible mistake, we feel horrible about it and as a shelter we're making changes internally to make sure this never happens again. We would like to publicly apologize to Mr. Bullington. There's nothing I can do to change the facts in this case, there's nothing I can do to bring his animal back," said Michael.

As for why shelter workers gave the Bullingtons the run-around, Michael said he wanted to be the one to tell the family what happened to their dog.

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