APPOMATTOX COUNTY (WSLS 10) – The Appomattox County Animal Shelter is under fire after it made the decision to euthanize a dog volunteers say a woman was waiting to adopt.
The County closed the shelter to volunteers Wednesday after County Supervisors say staff received threatening phone calls.
Aside from that prospective adopter, volunteers say the shelter had room for more animals, and the dog, named Sam, was not aggressive.
The County responded Wednesday after conducting an internal investigation, but for many of the volunteers, it was too little, too late.
“He just melted into my hand when I started petting him. He was just such a good boy. Gentle, he was eating the cheese out of my hand with like one tooth,” said Volunteer Jean Wells.
Wells had been working to find a forever home for Sam, and asked one prospective adopter to come meet him.
“We had a girl that was coming in on Saturday to pick up Sam… We called her and said he’s not here, we don’t know what happened to him,” said Wells.
It took until Sunday before Wells finally got the bad news: Sam had been euthanized.
Wells says she can’t understand why.
“He was not euthanized because of space, he was not euthanized because he was mean or dangerous,” said Wells.
Wells and several others called the County looking for answers, but didn’t receive any.
She showed back up at the shelter Wednesday to talk to staff, but got another surprise.
“There are no volunteers allowed, there’s a sign on the door that only people who are paid workers can go in,” said Wells.
In a news conference Wednesday night, Supervisor Board Chair Sam Carter said the County closed the shelter to volunteers at the request of staff.
“The staff feels uncomfortable because of vicious phone calls that they’ve been receiving here,” said Carter.
Board Member Sara Carter says the dog had been in the County’s shelter for seven months, and staff there painted a very different picture of Sam’s behavior.
“The animal was behaving anti-socially, at least with folks that were in and out of the shelter. There was some indication that the animal was growling when people walked by,” said Carter.
Sam Carter says regardless, the County admits it was in the wrong.
“We made a mistake, it’s as simple as that. We made a mistake and we apologize for it,” said Carter.
Sam Carter says the County is going to send any dogs it can’t handle in the future to the Lynchburg Humane Society.
“There is no more euthanization,” said Carter.
Wells says, that’s a good first step, but for the many volunteers who loved him, it won’t bring Sam back.
“They murdered that dog,” said Wells.
The County says it also hopes to improve communication with volunteers.
Sara Carter says staff hadn’t been in contact with anyone who wanted to adopt Sam since September 6th.
Sam Carter also says the County is considering working with the Lynchburg Humane Society to have them help run the shelter.
At this time, the County says it will not be taking disciplinary action against Animal Control Officer Mickey Caifano, who made the call to euthanize Sam, because she did not break any laws in the process.