The question is, was there another option? The Deputy Chief of the department, Mike Register, said the dogs were euthanized because of “flu-like” symptoms including runny nose, coughing, and sneezing. He told local news channels covering the story, “If we don’t euthanize the number of animals that are exhibiting symptoms, you run the risk of jeopardizing the whole facility.” When asked if they considered using medicine to treat the dogs, Register said that option was not considered. The dogs were diagnosed with flu-like symptoms last week, quarantined over the weekend, and euthanized on that Monday. The shelter did not reach out to rescues or news organizations for help.
Many people don’t accept this explanation and want answers, and are now petitioning for a change at the shelter. Animal advocates, rescue workers and volunteers believe they could have helped these dogs out of harm’s way if they had known there was a problem.
Dave Edwards is a rescue volunteer who oversees Atlanta Pit Bull Networking on social media. Edwards says that the only disease he can think of that would automatically require this type of mass extermination is rabies. In his opinion, other diseases are treatable with the right funding and he believes the main reason Clayton County didn’t save the dogs comes down to money.
The mother of a litter of six puppies was among the dogs euthanized. In an email, Clayton County Animal Control stated that this dog was put down because she was aggressive, but later Mike Register said there was a “miscommunication” within the department and that the dog was put down because she had the flu-like symptoms. Her pups are now being bottle-fed.
On Tuesday, Clayton County Commission chairman Jeffrey Turner heard public complaints at a meeting, and agreed that something needs to change. He told the group that plans have been in the works for a new facility and predicts a new shelter, approved by voters in 2009, will be finished within the next 18 months.
Animal advocates don’t believe that addresses the issue of the mass euthanizations, and continue to demand answers about why this happened.