Volunteers question Chesapeake Animal Services euthanasia policy

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Chesapeake Animal Services euthanized a pit bull named Ozzie on Thursday, even though volunteers wanted to save him and find him a home. They believe workers are euthanizing animals before giving them a chance to be adopted.

Ozzie was found near the High Rise Bridge with a broken pelvis and a broken leg last week. Bill Lawton, once a volunteer at Chesapeake Animal Services, is a bit of an animal lover, so Ozzie’s story melted his heart.

“When I looked at him I cared about him the second I saw at him,” said Lawton. “He was laying on the blanket, tail wagging and stuff like that. He couldn’t really move too well.”

Ozzie was hit by a car and left on the side of road so long his jaw froze to the ground. An animal control officer brought the dog into Chesapeake Animal Services.

Lawton wanted to save Ozzie, so he posted the dog’s picture on his personal Facebook adoption page.

“We worked with quite a few people after we posted him online,” Lawton said. “They offered to give us money for his surgery. I had a vet who offered to look at the x-rays and do the surgery at discount. We even had a volunteer at Chesapeake Animal Services that wanted to foster him.”

But, before Lawton could do any of those things, Ozzie was euthanized. Lawton and other volunteers believe Ozzie was put down before he was supposed to be.

Chesapeake Police tell 10 On Your Side they hold dogs for seven days to allow for an owner to find them, after that, they are adopted out or sent to foster homes. Lawton says Ozzie was put down on his sixth day.

“I personally believe it’s because of the breed of the dog, and the manager likes breeds like Jack Russell and things like that,” said Lawton.

Lawton alleges Chesapeake Animal Services euthanize pit bulls and rottweilers more often than other dogs.

The superintendent of  Chesapeake Animals Services would did not give 10 On Your Side an on-camera interview, but instead sent us the following statement:

The well being of every animal in our care is of the utmost importance to the staff and volunteers at Chesapeake Animal Services. Euthanization of any animal in CAS’s care is never taken lightly and is only done after a careful evaluation of all pertinent facts.

While Ozzy’s story is indeed a sad one, the unfortunate reality is that the most ethical choices related to the humane care of a severely injured animal are often also the most difficult to make. Staff consulted with a total of four outside veterinarians, and based on their combined recommendations the decision to euthanize Ozzy was reluctantly reached.

The Chesapeake Animal Services staff routinely rehabilitates injured, neglected and abused animals and places them in loving homes. Through the tireless work of staff, volunteers, and rescue and advocacy groups CAS’s adoption rate has increased 44% in the last year – a number they are very proud of.

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