Animal Control Officer in Trouble For Euthanizing Stray Dog
An animal control officer in Elba is on the hot seat after a person reported him to authorities for euthanizing an injured dog. The incident took place recently at the Elba Animal Shelter and involved a female dog (name unknown), two volunteers at the shelter name Cayci Chambers and Ruth Leland, and an animal control officer named Bryon Carpenter. At this point, all we have is Chambers' side of the story so it's tough to draw any conclusions. But if her account is accurate, it implies Carpenter lost sight of his mission, took the behavior of a scared and injured animal personally, and had the dog euthanized in a move that would contravene established procedures.
What We Know
Details are still sketchy at this point, but Chambers is unequivocal in her assertion that Carpenter lost control of himself and wound up putting down an animal for no good reason. According to Chambers, she arrived at the shelter last Wednesday afternoon to pick up the dog and take her to receive medical care for an unspecified injury. The medical treatment was to be paid for by a donor that her friend Leland had found. Chambers states that when she arrived at the shelter things were already a bit out of control.
"...he (Carpenter) drug her (the dog) from here to over there" Chambers told reporters as she recounted the incident at the shelter. "...then he just picked her up by the leash, then he just, like, slung her in there". With "there" apparently referring to another part of the shelter. Even if this were all that happened, it would still point to an animal control officer who was clearly out of control. But Chambers’ story doesn’t stop there.
"At first the dog was okay" Chambers continues "then he was pulling it and it got scared." At this point, Chambers' tale takes a decidedly darker turn. "... it (the dog) got terrified and she was trying to get away from him (Carpenter) and he was trying to get a hold of it…" At this point, according to Chambers the dog bit Carpenter which elicited an angry response from the animal control officer. "...he got really mad at that point and he dragged the dog by the leash over to his truck and slung it into the back of the cage" say Chambers. She says the dog actually hit the back of the cage so hard when Carpenter tossed it that it was knocked out by the force of the blow. "...it dropped and it did not move after that…" is how Chambers puts it.
Did the ACO Have Cause to Have the Dog Euthanized?
Some who have heard the story compare it to a similar tale out of Chicago several months ago when an animal control officer was twice bitten by an aggressive dog at the city pound. That dog was also euthanized. There was not a lot of outcry in that situation so some are wondering why the situation in Elba should be any different. But whereas the officer in Chicago had clear bite marks on her leg, it's still unclear just how badly Carpenter was bitten, or even if he was bitten at all.
According to Chambers Carpenter's wound was only superficial and she speculates it might have been caused by the dog's claws and not her teeth. "It's like, a little bit of blood…" she said of Carpenter's wound. She went on to characterize it as being "like a scrape."
Once the dog was unconscious (according to Chambers) in the cage Carpenter allegedly informed her that she couldn’t have it to take for medical treatment because he needed to take it to get tested for rabies, which is standard operating procedure any time a dog bites a human. At some point, before he departed the shelter with the dog Chambers apparently got wise to Carpenter's plan to euthanize the animal instead of simply isolating it for a prescribed period of time.
According to her when she confronted Carpenter he responded that the city of Elba was not in the habit of paying to hold onto dogs that have bitten people. When Chambers allegedly told Carpenter that the city would not have to pay because she and Leland had already lined up sponsors for the animal, Carpenter allegedly replied: "No she bit me, she is going to get euthanized.” After that he left with the animal and it was indeed put down.
Chambers says that after the encounter she called another animal control officer and asked him if euthanizing a dog that bit someone was standard operating procedure. The officer allegedly responded "no." So she took to social media to raise awareness of the issue. "I wanted people to know, so we can make sure this does not happen again." She says. Her Facebook post has since been shared more than 300 times and the story has been picked up by media outlets near and far. Many are outraged and are demanding answers from the city of Elba.
A Difficult Call
While some are calling for Carpenter to lose his job in the wake of the incident others are pointing to the Chicago incident as proof that Carpenter was within his rights to have the dog euthanized, if it did indeed bite him. Others are simply preaching patience until all the facts are in
At this point, all we have is Chambers' version of events which is certainly horrific, but is only one side of the story. Carpenter has chosen not to speak to the press as of this writing and no one else at the Elba Animal Shelter has come forward to confirm Chambers’ story or defend Carpenter. How the whole unfortunate incident will eventually play out is anyone’s guess, but it certainly shines a light on the importance of having qualified animal control officers working in our shelters as well as well the need for having well-established protocols in place in the event an incident like this does occur.