In Tampa, Florida, the Hillsborough Animal Shelter has come under fire for mistakenly killing a dog that had already been adopted. JoJo, a 1-year-old German shepherd, was waiting for his new family to pick him up last week when staff euthanized the pup. He was scheduled to go to his new home later that very day — a fact that staff somehow managed to overlook while reviewing the puppy’s file.
The staff member who carried out the procedure has been relieved of duties related to euthanization, and the facility is currently undergoing an internal investigation by human resources to decide if any disciplinary measures need to be carried out. That isn’t stopping local animal lovers from organizing a protest outside the shelter on October 19th. While the director of the shelter has personally apologized to the family who wanted to bring JoJo home, there’s not much the shelter can do to make up for the loss of life after the fact.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time this sort of mix-up has occurred at this particular shelter. In April 2012, someone decided to adopt a black and white mixed breed named Zeus, only to arrive at the shelter and find that the dog was already dead — mistakenly euthanized only an hour after arriving at the shelter.
The Hillsborough shelter has come under criticism before for its high kill rate — about 12,000 animals a year. It’s also experienced recent outbreaks of illness among the animals housed there, including Parvovirus. The rate of illness among pets in the shelter is so high that two of the shelter’s veterinarians have publicly resigned, citing their concerns about new management. Clearly, the problems at this facility go deeper than low-level staff misreading a file.
While JoJo’s story is particularly tragic, sadly, it’s nothing out of the ordinary for a rescue dog. In the United States alone, shelters euthanize 3-4 million animals a year. While some pets on “death row” are able to find foster families or loving forever homes, many more end up being put to sleep before they have a chance.
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