A family’s beloved Australian cattle dog was mistakenly euthanized at a North Carolina animal shelter after a devastating mix-up.
The Varker family, from Lexington, N.C., discovered their 16-month-old pup Blaze was put down over the weekend, when workers at the Davidson County Animal Shelter were unable to find the pet.
Blaze was being held in quarantine at the local shelter after he bit a young member of the Varker’s extended family and was also found to be behind on his rabies vaccinations.
The furry family member was being held for a routine 10-day stay after the biting incident when Rhea Varker and her three children decided to visit him on Tuesday.
“Our family just got a new dog to add to our family and my wife was at Petsmart getting supplies and thought, ‘while I’m out this way I’ll go to the animal shelter and check on Blaze,” Joey Varker, Rhea’s husband, wrote in a Facebook post.
“When she gets there she is shown a picture of a completely different dog and asked if that was our dog and of course my wife says no . . . after checking the kennels it is found out that our dog (a full blooded blue healer) was mistakenly put down!!!! How does this happen?”
According to the heartbroken Rhea, the family was told the fatal mix-up occurred when Blaze was accidentally put in another dog’s kennel.
“The blame was left on the cleaning crew that comes in and cleans kennels, basically stating that they just put the dog in the wrong spot. No other explanations were explained. I wasn’t offered the opportunity to identify my dog,” she told WXII.
However, Assistant County Manager Casey Smith blamed it on a “mishap” with Blaze’s paperwork.
“Just a mishap with the paperwork. The intake paperwork, this was a bite dog that came in late last week. And when we had the paperwork, sometimes we had interim paperwork from animal control officers that we intake into our official intaking system at the shelter, and we had not done that yet because we only have two people there on the weekend, and a lot of animals that come in and the paperwork got crisscrossed, and an accident happened,” Smith told WXII.
And to add insult to injury, Joey said the grieving family was offered a “replacement dog” from the shelter and monetary compensation of $300 from the county manager.
“It was an unfortunate incident and a mistake was made,” Jeb Hanner, the county manager, was quoted telling Fox 8.
The Varkers did not accept the money nor the new dog. Instead, they just want certainty that this will never happen again.
“I want procedures put in place where this doesn’t happen again,” Joey Varker told The Post.
“It’s about our children. I don’t want anyone to lose their job, but just procedures put in place to prevent this so it doesn’t happen to someone else.”
Smith emphasized that this is the first time such an incident has ever happened at the shelter.