Euthanized pit bull at Ohio Township no-kill shelter draws protest from dog lovers
Officials at Animal Friends euthanized a pit bull on Thursday morning because they determined the dog was a danger to the community despite months of rehabilitation efforts.
The decision drew heavy criticism from dog lovers who took to social media to accuse the shelter of betraying its no-kill-policy.
Comments on the shelter’s Facebook page — including an offer from a dog trainer to take in the dog named Blue — became so threatening that officials deleted many comments and disabled the commenting feature.
“It was surprising how viral it went,” said Kathleen Beaver, chief operating officer of the Ohio Township shelter. “It was hurtful and divisive and very unfair.”
Blue was rescued last year from a Troy Hill house. Police arrested his owner for beating to death a German shepherd that also lived in the house.
Blue fatally attacked a small dog at the shelter in March, Beaver said. Shelter officials decided then to continue rehab efforts rather than resort to euthanasia, “and he progressed, he did very well,” Beaver said.
But during Thanksgiving week, Blue attacked another dog when he freed himself from his cage, Beaver said.
“That was the second attack,” she said. “We’re not going to place a dog like that next door to you. As much as we loved Blue and as beautiful as he was, it would not be fair to the community.”
After officials decided to euthanize, word spread. Wednesday night, social media users started posting messages on Animals Friends’ Facebook page urging officials to reconsider.
Paul Anthony, a dog trainer in Beaver County and former K-9 police officer, offered to take Blue in.
“They’re a no-kill shelter but if they can’t rehab the dog with their tool, they just put it down,” Anthony said. “When it comes to euthanizing a dog, I think you should try other tools.”
Animal Friends and other shelters bill themselves as “no-kill facilities,” meaning they don’t kill healthy animals for space.
But they do euthanize in extreme cases, officials said. At Animal Friends, animals are put down for medical and quality of life reasons, or for behavior problems. In 2012, 58 animals were euthanized at Animal Friends, including 24 dogs for behavior problems, according to the shelter’s annual report.
Beaver said officials explored several options for Blue but did not find an alternative that provided a realistic chance at rehab while reducing the public’s risk.
“We were certain of the potential of this dog to be a danger to the community,” Beaver said. “We’ve seen it twice.”
Chris Togneri is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5632 or [email protected].