ENVIRONMENT

Animal Shelter Mistakenly Kills Family Dog Due To Mix-Up

Joey Varker says his family is devastated over the loss of their 16-month-old Australian cattle dog, Blaze.

A North Carolina family is grieving after their pet was mistakenly killed at an animal shelter due to a mix-up involving being put into the wrong kennel.

“This mistake has taken a member of our small family and hurt not only me and my wife but also our 3 boys,” wrote Joey Varker, one of the dog’s owners, in an emotional public Facebook post on Wednesday.

Blaze was a 16-month-old Australian cattle dog ― also known as a blue heeler ― that had nipped a 6-year-old boy in the family, Varker told the Winston-Salem Journal. The injury was minor, but due to health precautions Blaze had to be quarantined at the Davidson County Animal Shelter for 10 days. After the quarantine period was over, the plan was for Blaze to go back home.

But when Varker’s wife, Rhea, stopped by the animal shelter for a visit on Tuesday, Blaze was dead.

“We were told that the cleaning crew put our dog in the wrong kennel and that’s how it got confused,” Varker told local news station WGHP, describing his wife and sons as “devastated.”

The animal shelter did not immediately respond to a request for comment from HuffPost and declined to comment when reached by the Journal. However, county officials have confirmed to local media that the incident happened and that it was a mistake.

“Due to the overwhelming number of animals coming in and a limited staff, especially on weekends, this dog was crisscrossed with another dog scheduled to be euthanized that probably looked similar,” Assistant County Manager Casey Smith told the Journal. “It was an unfortunate mistake.”

County Manager Jeb Hanner told WGHP that the family could have quarantined Blaze at home, had they shown proof he was up to date on required vaccinations. But Varker told the news outlet that he was never informed that was an option.

Varker also told the outlet that the county offered him $300 in compensation for his dog. However, he wrote on Facebook that he does not want any money, he simply wants someone to be “held accountable.”

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