After trying to get answers internally, Dacia Anderson is speaking out against a system that decided to euthanize both a shelter pit bull that was still in labor and her newborn puppies.
In a Facebook post that has now been shared over 5,000 times, Anderson, an Amarillo-Panhandle Humane Society (APHS) volunteer, tells of this tragic incident, which occurred on May 10 at an Amarillo Animal Management and Welfare (AAMW) facility, where APHS rents space and helps adopt out animals, and the work she did to help the mother dog, referred to as G7 in the post, to no avail.
“I need to write about something that I recently witnessed and found completely appalling and unacceptable. I have found immense joy through my volunteering, and I have struggled with the potential pushback from speaking out. I have also sought to remedy wrongs through the proper channels. I have held on to this post, hoping that I would not have to share, but I cannot seem to get anywhere. Today, I am coming to the public for support,” Anderson writes in the post dated May 31. She also adds that the post is not meant as an attack against APHS, which does not handle the facility’s intake or euthanasia decisions, or AAMW, which does. Instead, she created the post to draw attention to what is happening at AAMW and to encourage the facility to be more transparent in order to gain the trust of the community.
The story Anderson shares starts with her volunteering with APHS at the AAMW facility and spotting an “obviously pregnant” pit bull that was friendly, but scared, and new to the shelter after being owner-surrendered the previous day. The dog was located in kennel G7, hence the name she is giving throughout the post. The long-time volunteer went to check on G7 later and realized the soon-to-be-mom was in labor and did not have a whelping box, a box designed to protect puppies during birth, only the hard concrete floor to welcome her puppies.
Worried for G7 and her future babies, Anderson found and talked to several AAMW employees about getting a whelping box and other help for G7.
“They acknowledged and took control of the situation. I then saw an AAMW kennel attendant assembling a whelping box and assumed it was being handled,” Anderson recounts in her post.
Unfortunately, this is where the story takes its tragic turn. When Anderson tried to return to the area containing G7’s kennel she was prevented from entering, but saw G7 being moved. She writes that an AAMW employee told her that G7 was likely being moved to a more comfortable area to give birth. Anderson later found out the truth.
“A bit later, I heard that a message had been sent stating G7 was euthanized. She was in labor, and euthanized. An AMW employee later confirmed that it was indeed the same dog. Her last moments, while she lay dying, were spent still trying to clean her newly birthed puppies. Their words, not mine,” Anderson writes.
Richard Havens, the Director of Amarillo Animal Management and Welfare, told KAMR there was more to the decision.
“The owner of the dog in question contacted 911 to state they had a vicious animal that was there’s . We responded after hours we took the animal into custody and then the following morning we ended up euthanizing it due to the nature of the call and the behaviors the animal exhibited,” Havens told the station.
Anderson told KAMR there were none of the routine markers on the dog’s kennel deeming her aggressive, and the behavior she saw G7 exhibit was not aggressive. Anderson believes Havens reasoning is a “spin” on the real story. G7’s death has been weighing down the APHS volunteer, who has decided to stop offering her time at the AAWM facility that APHS rents space out of, following years of 20 to 30-hour weeks of volunteering at the facility.
In her post, Anderson writes that she understands that euthanasia is a harsh reality of the shelter world, especially when pet overpopulation is such an issue, but worries if putting down a dog still in the process of giving birth “is acceptable to the leadership of the shelter, then what is out of bounds?”
In an effort to ensure what happened to G7 never happens again, Anderson writes that she is encouraging the public to contact Amarillo city managers to ask that the shelter be allowed to slow down intake and that the facility receive a larger budget, so there isn’t the same pressure to euthanize animals. She also challenges AAMW to be more transparent with what is happening behind closed doors at the shelter, so it can gain the community’s trust and support.
Havens told KAMR that euthanizing the puppies and the mother pit bull while she was giving birth was “unfortunate” but “the right call,” since the dog was a threat to “public safety.” He also said the incident could have been prevented if the pit bull’s former owner spayed the dog and socialized her.
“With our limited budget we just simply can’t save all the animals,” Havens told KVII. “We’re doing the best we can to give them the best chance but when animals come in with behavior issues, those animals will be ultimately put down.”
As a solution to these woes, Havens points to the need for more residents to adopt instead of buying pets and lower cost spay/neuter operations.
Anderson believes the answer to AAMW’s issues starts with gaining the support and trust of the community first. In a follow up Facebook post, Anderson encourages everyone moved by what happened to G7 to attend a meeting at the Amarillo Downtown Library on June 6 at 6 p.m. Central Time to show AMWW that there are plenty of people dedicated to helping them serve every animal in their care.
“So no matter where I once stood, I will tell you where I stand now. I stand for those with no voice – the sad, the broken, and the forgotten. I stand with those who are doers – the fosters, volunteers, networkers, transporters, fence builders, photographers, donors, adopters, kennel workers, rescuers, and the educators. We are stronger together,” Anderson writes.