Deadly mistake: Wrong dog killed at Hernando Animal Services, again

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Hernando County Animal Services has been plagued with problems over excessive euthanasia. On Friday it was discovered that yet another dog fell victim to their mistakes and paid for it with his life.

Poor recordkeeping and confusion resulted in killing the wrong dog
Credits: Maryann Tobin

Poor record-keeping and confusion in cage placement resulted in switching a yellow Labrador mix with another dog.

When it was time to euthanize the dog, Animal Services worker Michael Steele, did not verify the identity of the dog, and instead used the cage number, unaware of the fact that the dogs had been switched. Then the wrong dog was killed.

Hernando County Animal Services has a long history of being more eager to kill than to adopt.

In July 2010 on a visit to the shelter I reported that… “Kennel Worker, Dave Krusko appeared angry and frustrated as he walked past me. Then I heard him comment that he had been “euthanizing all day”, and complained that the people in the front office should not be “letting people back here (to the adoption area) when I’m busy euthanizing.”

In March 2012, the county agency was in the spotlight again after an 8-month-old dog, Zeus, was killed just 15 minutes after arriving at the shelter.

Local residents and shelter volunteers have been suggesting staff and policy changes to remedy the problems at HCAS.

While some changes have been made in recent weeks, deadly problems and bad publicity persist.

The solution may only be found in cleaning out the entire agency from the top, down to the last kennel worker, since partial efforts for improvements appear to continue to fail.

Brooksville’s Pet Luv Clinic director Richard Silvani, who donates veterinary services to Hernando County Animal Services, expressed his concerns and frustration in an email in April, calling the situation at HCAS a “crisis… from failure to vaccinate on intake, to poor record-keeping, to euthanizing at will rather than going through a real evaluation procedure.”

Silvani added, “Things are at a breaking point, and we will either have a house-cleaning and a great leap forward or the whole effort will end.”

With yet another wrongful death of an undeserving dog, it appears that the “breaking point” has passed. Hernando County Animal Services is simply not doing the job taxpayers are paying for.

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Two Dobermans attacked and left to die (Caution: Graphic)

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“OMG…these poor souls look like they have never had the hand of love, respect or kindness, in their entire lives…thank God an Angel found them & they are now in the care of professionals. Judging by their scars they could have easily been bait dogs, even though their breed is large, left to starve weakens one’s body, so they would have had little fight in them. It pains me greatly to see this suffering,  but I can’t stop…people have to see the truth, see what humans are capable of; because that someone may be living next door to you! Somebody must be aware that 2 Doberman dogs have disappeared from the neighborhood, please ask around everyone…the person that let these dogs suffer needs to be caught & do a spot of his/her own suffering…anything you can think of could lead to capture. So please keep this circulating!!”

The situation of two badly-injured Dobermans who were near death was brought to my attention by an amazing and compassionate advocate. Help is desperately needed for the two apparently purebred Dobermans, now named Zeus and Athena. They are currently being cared for at the Elizabethtown Veterinary Hospital in Clarkton, N.C., and their care is being coordinated by Silvia Kim, the director at A Shelter Friend, in Elizabethtown, N.C.

“Note this is the only picture I wish to share, you may look at the others for yourselves.”

Skin draped over bones

Based on the information obtained in a telephone call with Ms. Kim, these precious babies were found by the local Animal Control officer as strays, with injuries that clearly indicated they had been attacked by another dog or perhaps multiple dogs. They both have severe injuries from the attacks, and also bear the scars from what could be prior dog attacks, as well as prior beatings. Their body condition was so bad, they could not have strayed far, because they were far too sick and weak to travel.

View slideshow: Zeus and Athena with terrible injuries (CAUTION: GRAPHIC IMAGES)

Zeus is the worst of the two, with infected and festering wounds on his face and body. When found, he had ants crawling all over him and inside of the massive wound on his face. Poor little Athena was at first terrified of any sudden movements of a human hand; a definite indication that she has been beaten and abused by humans at some point, perhaps numerous times.

As if the injuries were not bad enough, they are both emaciated, with their bodies appearing to be nothing more than skin draped over bones. They were starved for who knows how long, which has made them terribly weak. Zeus had surviving by eating dirt and rocks to fill that burning emptiness in his belly from the hunger. As with most dogs neglected in the southern states, they are heartworm positive and will require treatment for that at some point.

Athena’s body shows signs that she has recently gave birth to a litter of puppies, but there were no puppies near the area where she and Zeus were found. One can only wonder what might have happened to those tiny babies, considering the amount of cruelty and neglect Zeus and Athena have been endured.

Clearly, these innocent dogs have suffered for probably their entire lives, and it was only a stroke of good luck that they were found before they both died. The networking between Animal Controland A Shelter Friend is amazing, as evidenced by the information provided by Ms. Kim. Thanks to this relationship, the euthanasia rate in that area has been reduced over the last five years from a 98% kill rate to only around 10% now. More areas should develop this kind of relationship between the shelters and the rescue groups, since more innocent lives could be saved.

Since Zeus and Athena were found as strays, there is no one to charge with his heinous act of cruelty and neglect. However, if the perpetrators can be found, appropriate charges will definitely be filed against them. Surely someone out there will recognize these two dogs, and perhaps have information about who harmed them and allowed them to be neglected so badly. Please network this story through your contacts in social media, and do what you always do so well, which is help get justice for abused animals.

The cost of the medical care for both of these precious dogs is going to be very high. A Shelter Friend is a registered 501c charitable organization, so any donations made to them to help with the medical care for Zeus and Athena is completely tax deductible. You can make donations to them here, or at the contact information at the end of the article.

Read the following on more news & ways you can help these poor dogs:-

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