Sources tell ABC at least 4 animals were recently mistakenly euthanized before "Jo-Jo" on Tuesday
8:22 PM, Oct 11, 2013
11:21 PM, Oct 11, 2013
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - Hillsborough County Animal Services continues to investigate the accidental euthanasia of a 1-year old German Shepherd mix on Tuesday.
A family planned to pick up "Jo-Jo" the same day he was euthanized.
"I don't ever want to lose one. So, for me, this is too many," HCAS Director Ian Hallett said.
HCAS officials have apologized for the mistake, but accidental euthanasias are not new.
Melody Daily made the same error last year.
"I feel horrible," she said. "There's nothing I can do about it."
One day last November, Daily held "Cindy" in her arms and gave her a lethal injection. Soon after, she realized computer records showed the note "do not euth". Daily calls it a miscommunication and fatal oversight that came as a result of efforts to reduce euthanasia.
Because animals are kept longer, and rescue organizations have more time to make decisions, Daily says her job got confusing.
"They'd use other people's passwords to make changes," she said. "Putting notes on stuff then changing their mind, 'Oh wait, I want it now.'"
Hallett disagrees about Cindy's fate.
"It was clear that the animal should not have been euthanized," he said. "What we have in place is solid, but at the end of the day, the employee has to follow the procedure."
However, inside sources who spoke to ABC Action News on the condition of anonymity tell a different story of hazy methodology and overwhelming workload. According to records they shared with ABC, there were at least 4 mistaken euthanasias over the summer. They included a cat and her kitten, as well as a dog named "Deputy", and another dog named "Dingo" who was part of an animal cruelty investigation.
Sources report that another investigations dog, "Big Boy", was discovered in the euthanasia hold pen with minutes to spare.
"There's too much work and not enough people," Fred Martin said.
Martin recently quit after 14 years at HCAS. He blames poor implementation of recent efforts to reduce euthanasia, part of the new "Be the Way Home" program that's received criticism for animals dying in cages or in new homes due to infectious diseases after prolonged hold times in the shelter.
"The people who are in charge making bad choices, the pets are paying the price in the way of collateral damage," Martin said.
After 13 years at HCAS, Daily lost her job over Cindy's accidental death. Her bosses, she says, told her there would be challenges as the new protocol smoothed out, and asked for patience.
"'Just ride it out.' Well, you can only ride it out so far when they boot you off the boat," she said.