Probe finds shelter procedures not followed

Barbie, a dog erroneously euthanized by Contra Costa Animal Services June 18. (COURTESY / On File)
Barbie, a dog erroneously euthanized by Contra Costa Animal Services June 18. (COURTESY / On File)
Martinez Tribune

An investigation by Contra Costa Animal Services (CCAS) officials found staff failed to follow established protocol and practiced poor communication when performing end of life procedures on dogs June 18 when one of five was mistakenly put down.

CCAS shelter staff performed services on five dogs, including Barbie, a four-year-old Pit Bull mix, and Tommy, a 2-year-old Pit Bull.

“If CCAS staff and volunteers had followed the established protocols for recording animal status updates and performing end of life procedures, Barbie would not have been euthanized,’’ the investigation found. Communication errors further contributed to the tragic mistake.

According to the final report issued July 15, shortly after the end of life procedures had been carried out, shelter staff was alerted to a potential mistake in the euthanasia of Barbie. Upon review, it was verified that a 501(c)(3) organization had confirmed they would adopt Barbie, which under CCAS policy would have prevented the euthanasia of that animal.

CCAS staff was also alerted at that time about a potential mistake regarding the euthanasia of Tommy, the report continued.

“CCAS staff and volunteers place a tremendous priority on saving the lives of animals and were heartbroken to learn about the unfortunate error that resulted in the euthanasia of Barbie,’’ said Animal Services Director Beth Ward. “As such, CCAS endeavors to fully understand and address the gaps that led to this unfortunate mistake.’’

The investigation found no wrongdoing with regards to the euthanasia of Tommy.

In the case of Tommy, there was no confirmed adopter or transfer partner recorded in the animal’s profile. While there was a rescue group interested in adopting Tommy, they had not notified CCAS to record a confirmed placement of Tommy.

Along with determining the mistakes that happened in this case, the report of the incident also identified improvements that would be implemented to head off such a mistake reoccurring.

The report stated CCAS is revising its processes and protocols for performing end of life procedures to include additional safety nets that will serve to minimize the chance of similar errors.

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One comment

  1. This was no mistake. The internal shelter notes show that Jen Ray, shelter manager, instructed workers to euthanize Barbie – directly below the note stating that a rescue group was going to take her and find her a home. This is nothing more than a blatant lie and I’d be happy to share the actual note with the public. It’s illegal to put down an adoptable animal if a rescue has committed to taking it, and this is not the first time they’ve done such a thing.

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