Let’s start this off with a positive: Many, many shelters and rescues are doing good things for homeless pets. Even when they have to make difficult decisions, there are plenty of organizations that treat animals with respect and care.
But shelters are run by people, and people are… a mixed bag. Some are understaffed and over-capacity with animals. And in many cases, shelters are stressful environments for both the animals who are taken in by them and the people who work there.
This is a cautionary tale and a call to action for one specific shelter: Change needs to take place, and soon, before more wanted animals are put down — “accidentally” or otherwise.
Adam Cooper was on his way to play golf when he spotted a loose white pit bull. Cooper decided to stop and pick up the dog, worried that he might get hurt or run over by a car if he didn’t.
The rescuer did everything within his power and then some to ensure that the dog was taken care of, as he was smitten with the dog’s good manners and sweet behavior. Cooper took the pup to Tulsa Animal Welfare and left his contact info with the front desk, meanwhile finding a home for the dog, which was named Nixon.
Cooper even called the shelter back, multiple times, and donated to TAW. But when his friend Jan Sullivan called to check on the dog after the stray hold was up, the dog was gone.
“There were notes in the system that he was going to be adopted, I was assured he was going to be OK,” Sullivan said.
Cooper posted to Facebook to explain the situation.
“I am writing this because I think everyone who loves your pets like family should know what’s going on,” he wrote on Feb. 1.
‘I was advised that I had to take the dog to the TAW shelter to give his owner a chance to come forward. This dog was very happy and smart. At this point I wish I would have left him on the street because he would have lived a longer life than he did at TAW.”
“I offered to pay to keep him alive but they would not take my money so I made a large donation and ask them to please make sure they treated him good. I then left my business card and said that I would call to check on him which we did throughout the week. At checkin I asked for them to please contact me if they were going to put him to sleep.”
Unfortunately, the group told Cooper that they had a policy against contacting finders, which Cooper found to be a counterproductive rule.
Still, he made sure he had the dates right: the dog would be held until the 31, at which point he’d be put up for adoption, and the soonest they would potentially euthanize him would be Feb. 4.
“We made the calls like asked and even helped find him a new home,” he continued. “When we called to pick him up today they informed us that he was put to sleep. They informed us that the person taking the information got busy and for got to put it on the forms.”
“Do I believe they put him down by accident I sure hope that is the case. That being said with the amount of people who contacted TAW about this dog it’s hard to believe that they failed to make the notes that many times. I know of at least 3 times they were contacted to make sure this dog would remain safe. How can a person fail to make notes multiple times when the task at hand is to help find these dogs homes or reunite them with the owner. I am sickened to hear what happened to him and can not believe these employees failed to do the basic functions of the job.”
Cooper said he knows accidents happen, but he also maintained that a responsible organization would find the person at fault and terminate their employment.
“I told them multiple times that if the owner did not come forward then i wanted the dog.”
“I appreciate all of the people who were involved in trying to help out this guy and just wish we could have helped him survive.”
It’s impossible for us to know all the details of what transpired. Perhaps it was a genuine (and incredibly unfortunate) mistake. Some are less convinced and have suggested that it was done on purpose.
No matter why it happened, the result is sadly the same. According to WPDE, Mayor G.T. Bynum has stated that TAW will be getting more employees in the next few months. Hopefully, more hands on deck will prevent another tragedy like Nixon’s.
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