A Pomeranian dog was recently dropped off at the Santa Rosa County Auditorium. According to witnesses, the woman was crying while she was turning in her grandmother's pet, claiming she could not keep it.
The small dog generated interest from several parties, according to Elyse Winters, who says she was interested in adopting the dog. She wrote a post about the dog on Facebook, which created some stir in the community. By the end of the day, there were five people interested in the animal.
Winters says the interested parties were ready to adopt the dog, regardless of any underlying health issues. She claimed that the Animal Shelter said the dog had to be evaluated before the dog would be available for adoption. The dog ended up being euthanized, according to Winters. She says she is heartbroken and she wants to know why willing citizens were not allowed to take home an unwanted dog.
"If I remember correctly, it was an older dog with some health issues," said Dale Hamilton, Santa Rosa County Animal Services interim director. "I'm not sure what the circumstances were. If it's the one that I was thinking of, it had some health issues."
Instead of the dog ending up available for adoption, Winters says it was euthanized, even with a line of people willing to bring it home and make it a family pet. She and others are demanding to know why Animal Services would not let them take it.
Hamilton said they typically hold on to animals for five days, evaluating their behavior before putting an animal up for adoption. They check to see if an animal shows signs of aggression around people or other animals. They also evaluate the incoming animals for health issues and signs of sickness.
"We just can't be adopting sick animals out to the public," Hamilton said. "We have to see if there's a threat to the public."
Hamilton says Animal Services is supported by a network of local veterinarians that donate their time to help care for the animals that end up at the shelter. They provide care for the animals for a variety of different ailments and conditions. The shelter provides animals with up-to-date shots and spays and neuters any adopted animal.
In a lot of situations, animals are euthanized, according to Hamilton. He said there's no specific time frame in which animals are put down. Each animal is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
The shelter took in 7,844 animals last year and euthanized 6,122 of them, according to public records. The number of animals taken in by Animal Services is trending downward, over the past five years. Adoptions are also trending down, from 709 and 789 in 2008 and 2009 to 532 last year.