County pound hit for dangerous dogs and faulty euthanasia

“Behavioral concerns" and inadequate put-down policies haunt animal services

Public safety has been jeopardized by potentially hazardous canines put up for adoption by the county's already embattled Department of Animal Services, per a June 22 report, recently posted online by chief county auditor Juan Perez.

After reviewing records of "adopted dogs with recorded behavior-potential safety risks," the report says, auditors concluded that the department "does not consistently document communication of behavioral issues to prospective pet owners."

"One of the four records tested had no evidence that the dog's temperament was communicated to the prospective owner prior to adoption," according to the report.

"One dog was incorrectly classified as an adoption when, in fact, it was an owner relinquishment and was subsequently euthanized."

Another canine, the audit says, "was returned from the new adopter with aggressive behavior, which had not been previously noticed, and was subsequently euthanized….

"If full disclosure of a dog's fractious past is not provided to a prospective owner," the report says, "it could pose a potential safety risk to the owner or the owner's family or pets, increasing liability to the county."

Animal services could also do a better job determining whether the euthanasia it performs is justified. Auditors say they examined a sample of 30 cases to find out "whether sufficient documentation of the authorization to euthanize the animal was recorded."

Of the 30 cases examined, 13 were found to have been performed "based on the owner[s] request," with 10 of the 13 having "either no documentation or insufficient documentation to support the animal's initial assessment."

The audit goes on to fault the department's euthanasia screening, saying, "absence of detailed policies for owner requested euthanasia that includes adequate documentation results in insufficient evidence of how the determination was made and increases the risk that healthy, treatable, and friendly animals are euthanized."

Department officials disputed that finding, maintaining that their policy already mandates that supervisors review owner-requested euthanasia involving "questionable circumstances, an inadequate reason, or [a] healthy/friendly animal."

"If staff disagree with the reason for euthanasia (which the owner must indicate on the relinquishment form), then the animal would not be euthanized despite the owner's request," says a June 9 memo signed by Animal Services director Daniel E. DeSousa.

Auditors responded that "we stand by our finding and recommendation," adding that Animal Services should “clearly and consistently document the basis for making the decision to euthanize animals per owner-request, and include the documentation requirement in the [Department of Animal Services] policy or procedure manual."

DeSousa's memo said the department agreed with the audit's other findings, including staff training in use of the euthanasia drug sodium pentobarbital, as well as deployment of "a computer report to capture all behavior memos" as a precaution against vicious-animal adoptions. The fixes were scheduled for completion by last month.

"Those entries will be included in an acknowledgment of behaviors for a potential adopter to review prior to adoption. [Department of Animal Services] staff will be trained in the printing and issuance of the acknowledgment to the potential adopter."

Share / Tools

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • AddThis
  • Email

More from SDReader


My daughter and I were at Gaines St shelter (over 10 years ago). Her first time, she was maybe 12. I had adopted there a time or two since I was a kid so didn't worry, no time to think much about it, she put her fingers into a cage to pet a medium size dog that immediately, no warning, bit her finger. Waited to let them find vaccine record, fine, did have an owner come to retrieve. A couple of years back I tried again, looking at what they claim as adoptable. Tried a year old female German shepherd. When they put us together I got her story, wandered the street most of her life, then sits in a cage alone from what I could tell, antisocial. They really need the dog whisperer. She was an angry b. I have sweet dogs, not gonna bring home aggression. Tried a young blue-gray deaf pit bull, looked so sad on a bed in that doggy-froggy position facing away from the front of the cage. I have a kind, sensitive female white deaf pit and I thought they could help each other. I hear the white ones are deaf most often. They asked me to bring my dog to meet him so I did. That little boy scared Paisley my 3ish year old pit so she was pulling the leash hard trying to get away. When I asked the girl what to do with a deaf dog she told me I could get a shock collar. Even after that mistake I went one more time, saw a miniature Doberman puppy and it took a couple more appointments for them to say the dog was in need of lots of care and doctor visits after surgery. Animal Lovers?

Log in to comment

Skip Ad