Shelter accidentally euthanizes family's pet

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by By JANET ST. JAMES / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on June 12, 2009 at 7:30 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 19 at 5:04 PM

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Janet St. James reports.

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Dogs get scared when storms happen.

About 22,000 dogs end up in the Fort Worth Animal Care and Control Center every year.

Each day, 40 are euthanized because they don't have enough shelter space.

But that's not why one North Texas family lost its pet.

The shelter mistakenly put their pet down.

For eight years, Avery, a Rottweiler, brindle mix, was a loving part of the Medlen family.

"He was like a child to me and I just can't stop thinking of him, whenever I do anything," said Katherine Medlen.

Last week, Avery got loose from a Fort Worth neighborhood, during an early morning thunderstorm.

He was picked up by animal control and brought to the city's shelter, where his family found him.

They didn't have enough money on them to get him out.

That was the first day.

Twice more, the Medlens were turned away because the vet hadn't implanted a microchip.

When they returned Monday, Jeremy Medlen was told the shelter had mistakenly euthanized Avery.

"Everybody here is devastated by this incident," said Jason Lamers, a spokesman for the shelter.

Lamers says preserving life is the purpose of the shelter.

Dogs whose owners claim them are supposed to be red-tagged with a large 'hold' ticket.

For some reason, Avery's was only marked with a small sticker.

And then, three workers, who are supposed to check paperwork before euthanizing an animal, apparently didn't.

"It was a terrible mistake and it was human error and we're extremely sorry and we're trying to work with the family to find out what we can do for them," said Lamers.

Right now, there are no penalties for the shelter.

The Medlens believe there should be, to deter mistakes, and better protect pets that are beloved family members.

"We believe they are accountable. They killed our friend," said Jeremy Medlen.

Three workers are facing possible suspension.

The shelter is now pouring over paperwork to make sure no other accidents happen and have promised to pay for Avery's burial.

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