OKEECHOBEE COUNTY, Fla. — A dog surrendered to the Okeechobee County Sheriffs Office Animal Control is dead.
The situation caused an outcry on the internet after it bit a staff member and was placed in quarantine. Staff at the sheriff’s office admitted to an error by making an aggressive dog available for adoption.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, the two Jack Russell mix dogs, Batman, and Robin, were surrendered in Okeechobee County. During the transfer process, Robin aggressively bit a staff member.
Sheriff’s office spokesman Jack Nash said the handling of that dog leading up to the transfer could've been handled differently.
The State Health Department requires that after a dog bite, owners need to quarantine it for 10 days. After that process the sheriff’s office confirmed they are a kill shelter.
"The decision to euthanize an animal is one of the hardest decisions a pet guardian can make," the sheriff's office posted on Facebook. "Veterinarians and animal control professionals more commonly broach this topic with progressive decline in physical health, severe injury, and associated quality of life.
"Behavioral euthanasia, or the decision to euthanize due to behavioral concerns, occurs when the severity of a dog’s behavior negatively impacts their quality of life, and the safety of the pet guardians, or poses too much risk to the public."
People like Melissa Rogers said the case could've been handled better.
"Nobody wants to be bit but it was her fault for handling that dog incorrectly she should have never handled that dog without a muzzle never so it was her fault," Rogers said.
The situation took off on social media and Oasis Pet Rescue’s Facebook page where the account of the incident was shared more than 600 times and sparked a petition with more than 1,200 signatures in an attempt to save Robin.
WPTV tried reaching out Oasis to several times and haven't heard back. The organization wanted to adopt both surrendered dogs. The Sheriff's Office did confirm they have received hundreds of calls as a result of the social media outcry.
“I would be saddened by that because that dog could have a life somewhere with somebody that could control him," Rogers said.
The sheriff’s office confirmed the dog was euthanized, adding they "can’t allow a dog with a history of biting or aggression to be adopted due to risk of future attacks."
The case prompted an update to sheriff’s office procedures including documenting signs of aggression of animals at the shelter and displaying it on kennels.
The staffer who was bit received counseling on proper securing and transfer of animals. Rogers agreed with that move, saying: “They do need to be retrained yes but so does the dog the dog needs a chance to.”
Over the past two years, Okeechobee Animal Control has taken in 2,359 dogs due to various reasons and has found more than 2,100 of them homes through adoption or returned to their rightful owners.