When a friendly dog who’d apparently been shot with a paintball gun showed up at the home of the Lassiter family in Alamance Co, NC on January 6, they took him in from the winter rain. He quickly settled in with the couple, their children and their other dog. They tried to find his owner, if he had one, but didn’t have any luck by the time a neighbor called AC on the dog three days later. Michelle Lassiter arrived home to find the dog she had named Si on the AC truck in her neighbor’s yard. She explained the circumstances to the ACO and asked if she could have Si back but he refused, stating the dog had to go to the pound.
“If he would have given her the dog off the truck, then there’s no opportunity for the real owner to get the dog,” [Lt. Mike] Hoover [of the Alamance Co sheriff's department] said Friday.
The Lassiters say they tracked Si down at the pound but when they expressed a desire to adopt him if he went unclaimed, the staff treated them rudely. And then the bill started ballooning:
They originally were told they’d need to pay the standard $25 impound fee plus $5 for each additional day Si was held there. Then, when they’d prepared to spring him, employees told them Si couldn’t be released without documentation of his rabies shot or payment of a $50 fine.
The Lassiters were given an additional 3 days after the mandated holding period to meet the requirements placed upon them. Michelle Lassiter left her contact information with the pound, told them she wanted to adopt Si and specifically requested to be notified if they were going to kill him. She was prepared to come get Si, whom no owner had claimed, within the designated time period and called the pound again to make sure there would be no additional requirements. That’s when she was informed Si had been killed. Oops.
The Burlington pound investigated itself in the matter:
An internal investigation found that a shelter employee didn’t follow policies related to receiving and recording information about parties interested in animals held there, Burlington Animal Services Director Jessica Arias said Friday.
Each animal taken into the shelter has a file. An employee who spoke to Lassiter about the dog didn’t properly file her contact information. Arias said the issue is a personnel matter and was being dealt with “appropriately and swiftly.”
A personnel matter? Hardly. This is a systemic failure. The 2012 state report indicates the Burlington pound primarily functions as a pet killing facility where more than 70% of the animals impounded are killed:
It’s obvious that so many friendly pets are killed at the Burlington pound every day, no one there even bats an eye at the practice. This is not a personnel matter. Unless you want to argue that workers at the pound are not doing their jobs to shelter animals, in which case I’d be inclined to agree. But blaming the needless killing of a friendly dog who had a family waiting for him on a paperwork oops is a no sale.
If anyone at the Burlington pound is truly interested in doing their jobs, they could start by taking advantage of a foster offer to keep a dog out of their pet killing facility for the mandatory holding period. The Lassiters could have kept Si at home for the holding period and the pound could have photographed him and posted his information at the pound and online in order to find an owner, if he had one. Instead, they insisted on taking yet another dog into their pet slaughterhouse. Next, the staff could start being polite to adopters. Because nobody WANTS to kill animals, or so I’ve heard. And how about looking for ways to get animals into homes instead of jerking people around on fines and vaccination records and assorted obstacles? And finally, if they really want to start doing their jobs, they should stop killing animals.
The next time a Burlington pound employee sees a healthy/treatable pet in the kill room, he should recognize immediately that a mistake of epic proportions is occurring and take immediate action to protect the animal. That’s what should happen, if employees at the Burlington pound were doing their jobs. Tragically, killing friendly animals is something that happens thousands of times a year in Alamance Co and no one at the place appears to give a damn.