Probe into dog’s death may bring changes to shelter

Barbie, the 4-year-old Pit Bull mix erroneously euthanized last month by Martinez Shelter staff. (COURTESY / On File)
Barbie, the 4-year-old Pit Bull mix erroneously euthanized last month by Martinez Shelter staff. (COURTESY / On File)
Martinez Tribune

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Investigation into the erroneous euthanization of an already-adopted dog last month is nearly complete. As Contra Costa Animal Control Services wraps up its probe, new procedures may be part of the findings.

“We are going to work hard to ensure this never happens again,’’ said department spokesman Steve Burdo, who noted 2011 as the last time such a tragedy occurred.

“We take this hard,’’ he continued, “and we are going to use this as an opportunity to learn from it.’’

An investigation to learn how the process broke down in the case involving Barbie, a 4-year-old Pit Bull mix who was mistakenly euthanized by Martinez Shelter staff June 18, commenced immediately following the incident.

Animal Control has seen a sharp rise in its live release goals since 2011 when the percentage was just 46 percent. By the end of 2015, the percentage had reached 75 percent, and through May of this year, the live release rate had inched upwards to 79.4 percent.

“We clearly did not hit the mark this time,’’ Burdo lamented. “This is more the exception than the rule.’’

Animal Control Services does not have the benefit of managed intake, so it must accept between 25 to 40 animals each day.

As a result, like a used car dealership, it has to hustle to ensure a lot of adopting is occurring at its Martinez and Pinole shelters to balance its available shelter space.

To that end, Burdo said staff works hard to help citizens achieve adoption. This includes a lot of promotions to remove the financial burden that may prevent prospective candidates from taking home a cat or dog.

An example of a promotion now through Saturday, July 9, involves free adoptions of animals at the shelters that already have been spayed or neutered.

Another solution involves working with rescue groups so the caregiver serves as a foster home for the animal as “a way to get (citizens) on the road to animal companionship.’’

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  1. This was no mistake. Jen Ray, the shelter manager did it on purpose even though she knew two rescues were committed to taking the dog. Internal shelter notes prove it. On 6/17 and 6/18 two different rescues said they wanted Barbie. On 6/18 Jen instructed workers to put her down anyway. – even though it was illegal! The public needs to let CCAS know this is not acceptable and Ms Ray needs to be fired.

  2. The 1st time since 2011? It seems dogs that are killed are easily forgotten! Have you already forgotten about Diego? You know, the sweet pup who had rescue pulling (Underdog, i believe)…and this was just a few months back, under Beth Ward watch! Cash…the GSD? Tommy? And I’m learning about Boris, but do not have all the facts yet!
    This was no accident! That was Jen Ray playing God, a Director who can’t reel in her staff and volunteers, a chain smoking spokesperson who blows smoke and is lieing in this little fluff piece! 2011!?! Incompetentence is running amuck in that place pure and simple!
    And I hope whom ever did this investigation finds dismissal of both Jen Ray and Vet tech Laura! To frazzled to check status on a living breathing healthy animal! No excuse!
    I’m pissed and I hope other tax paying CC residents are as well! No excuse…and 2011??? Come on!!

  3. Steve B. was hired, we all thought, as an advertiser for the shelter animals. All he does is spin lies to make the shelter look better in the eye of the public. Rescue organizations and volunteers are who advertise and get animals adopted. They are the ones putting pressure on CCAS to do promotions to encourafe adoption of shelter pets. The sooner CCAS goe No Kill the better. More community support will cone with a faciliry that actually shelters animals instead of impound and kill them for space. Been there, seen it from the inside out, including all the animals in the locked back wards as well as seen happy tail wagging dogs being walked to the kill room. This is not euthanasia, this is a kill shelter at work.

  4. A similar incident to this one happened earlier this year, not in 2011. A dog was euthanized while someone was on the phone trying to adopt it. After that incident, Beth Ward, shelter director, promised that all euthanasias were to be personally reviewed by her. Clearly that isn’t happening, or if it did, it was authorized.

  5. No kill shelter !!!

  6. I am curious, does the journalist fact check statements or simply report on what is said? To be clear, if any fact checked was done one would find that this has happened many times since 2011. Within the last few months this has happened to other dogs. One named Tommy was even reported about on the news. Also, their adoption rate isn’t any better in recent years. The statistics are skewed because so many amazing people involved in rescues are getting the dogs out. Animal services isn’t doing it, rescues are. If the rescues disappeared the shelters euth rate would be the same as it used to be or even worse. They are not bettering themselves at all, the only difference is more volunteers are involved in saving these lives because the shelter itself doesn’t care.

  7. This is deeply disturbing and disgusting. It seems the staff should not be allowed near animals or anyone vulnerable. Horrid. I’m going to get involved

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