This story is absolutely heartbreaking and also, quite frankly, really angered me.
At the end of May, Dacia Anderson, an Amarillo-Panhandle Humane Society(APHS) volunteer- who had tried to get answers elsewhere- shared the following story with her Facebook community (it’s since been shared over 6,000 times):
“Please let me be VERY clear. The Amarillo-Panhandle Humane Society is a separate entity. They handle adoptions and rescue. They do NOT handle intake or euthanasia. Let me also be clear, I do not wish harm toward anyone at Animal Management and Welfare. I have had the privilege to know some amazing people that pour their heart and souls into those animals and want nothing more than to see them walk out the front door.
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.
On Thursday, May 10th, while helping an Amarillo-Panhandle Humane Society employee complete a walk through of the facility, I came across an obviously pregnant pit bull in G7. I went into her kennel to take a picture for the APHS Facebook “In the Facility” album. She was friendly, but scared, and jumped up on me for comfort. I looked at her band and noted she had been an owner surrender the previous day.
Later, while running dogs back and forth to and from kennels for evaluations, I noticed that G7 was in labor and had given birth to a single puppy. She had no whelping box and was laying on the concrete. I immediately went to Amarillo Management and Welfare’s main office area to alert someone. I spoke with a gentleman who directed me to tell Mr. Havens (AMW director). Mr. Havens told me to find Christy (the assistant director). I happened to pass another AMW employee on the way and asked if they had seen Christy, as G7 was in labor with no whelping box. They acknowledged and took control of the situation. I then saw an AMW kennel attendant assembling a whelping box and assumed it was being handled.
Unfortunately (and to my surprise), I was met with resistance from an AMW employee when I attempted to enter G building a bit later while looking for a new volunteer. I was told to give them a minute. I could see the AMW staff vet, a few other kennel attendants, and a large, portable metal cage in the building. I immediately knew they were gathering mama from G7. I happened to pass another AMW employee and asked if she was being euthanized. He said that they were probably just moving her to somewhere more quiet, and less stressful.
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.
I am aware that euthanasia is a reality at the shelter. I am well aware of the overpopulation problems. I am also well aware that AMW has to make hard decisions. However, I feel that this action is the exact opposite of a what “the most humane community in the Panhandle of Texas” would do. This act was horrific to say the least. If this is acceptable to the leadership of the shelter, then what is out of bounds?
I have felt uneasy with the spay aborts on dogs that were obviously late term. Tater Tot (a pit bull mix from C1) was given a spay abort on April 20th even though she had been given food and treats less than an hour before she was taken back for surgery. AMW was made aware of this fact. She could have aspirated and died, but evidently this wasn’t a concern. Sally (a pit bull from F11) was spayed while heavily pregnant on Thursday, April 26th, and then brought to PetSmart on Saturday (her foster was unable to care for her), suffering from severe mastitis. This was heart wrenching to see. She was absolutely miserable.
I also cannot understand why certain dogs are treated for ringworm and their story advertised on the media, while others are quietly euthanized. All of these things scream to a complete lack of compassion. You cannot present yourself one way, and then act like a monster behind closed doors.
The shelter already lacks public support, which is so crucial not only for the new breeding ordinances, but the overall agenda. The fact that the Target Zero report was just released makes me even more disgusted that this occurred. Amarillo couldn’t euthanize its way out of our problems in the past, and it won’t work now.
If you agree that this is NOT acceptable, then please take a stand. What happened to G7 should never be allowed to happen again. The shelter needs to be transparent. They need to gain trust within the community. We need change. The shelter needs a larger budget and to slow down intake. Other cities have accomplished this. And they did it with community support!
Please email Kevin Starbuck, the Assistant City Manager, at email@example.com
Or better yet, give his office a call at (806) 378-3077.
Please also let Jared Miller, City Manager, know where you stand on this issue at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Both of these gentlemen are aware of what is occurring and offered no solution. And no apologies. ”
However, according to Richard Havens, the Director of Amarillo Animal Management and Welfare, it was the right call, putting the dog and her babies down because they were a “threat to public safety”:
“The owner of the dog in question contacted 911 to state they had a vicious animal that was there’s [sic]. 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,” 1
But Anderson doesn’t buy it. She believes Havens reasons are a “spin” on whatever the real story is as she said she saw “none of the routine markers” of aggressiveness on G7.
Havens would go on to blame the previous owners of G7 and the public at large for not doing a better job of spaying and neutering their pets.
The system needs to change. As does the idea that, generally speaking, pit bulls are mean, vicious dogs.
Please, if you are in the market for a pet, consider adopting from the shelter. There are so many animals in need of loving homes, currently sitting in the shelter scared, sad, and lonely.
Adopt, don’t shop!