A local family is outraged over what they call the unnecessary death of one of their dogs by a local animal shelter.
But officials with the SPCA branch that euthanized the pet say the dog's aggressive behavior justified their actions and they relinquished ownership rights when they surrendered their pet.
“They claim [Josie] showed aggression towards a worker, but she has no history of aggression whatsoever,” said Shana Goane, owner of Josie and her brother, Scout, who is alive and well.
The Goane family made the difficult decision to give up their two Australian Shepherds when they downsized from their home to an apartment.
They tried to find a home for the 1-year-old pups, who they describe as smart, loving and caring -- the best dogs in the world. But friends who were interested in adopting the dogs were away for the holiday weekend, and unable to house them.
As a last resort, they decided to surrender their dogs to the Chester County SPCA (CCSPCA).
On July 1, Shana Goane dropped off the dogs, signed a release relinquishing ownership, and paid a $500 fee. She claims she spoke with an official about keeping the dogs together at that shelter, and they told her they would do their best.
Two days later, the Goanes called the CCSPCA because they had found a new home for their two dogs.
But CCSPCA officials said Scout and Josie had been transferred to the Lancaster County SPCA (LCSPCA) -- a common method for animal shelters to deal with overcrowding.
At the time Scout and Josie were surrendered to the CCSPCA, the shelter had received over a dozen stray dogs in the previous 24 hours. So when the Lancaster County SPCA offered to take the two dogs, they accepted.
Goane was outraged. “I never would have brought my dogs to CCSPCA if I had known that was a possibility,” she said.
When the Goane’s called LCSPCA to inquire about their dogs, they were informed that Josie had been euthanized.
Josie began exhibiting aggression soon after she arrived, according to LCSPCA director Sue Martin.
“One of these instances included a senior staff having to remove the dog in order to clean the cage whereas the dog growled at them showing teeth,” Martin said. “Another staff member had to enter the kennel and remove the dog so the senior staff could safely exit the kennel.”
Goane is aware the shelter reserves the right to do what they need to get animals the best home they can, but insists that shelter staff overreacted to Josie’s behavior.
“It seems absurd to me that a perfectly healthy dog would be put down,” Goane said.
The family drove to the LCSPCA and picked up Josie’s body, along with Scout who shelter staff says did not show aggression and was placed on the floor for adoption.
Martin emphasized that euthanasia is always a last resort, but the aggression exhibited by the dog could be dangerous for her staff, and for the possible person who adopts the dog.
“…it would be nothing other than negligent for the SPCA to put the public in danger as well as lead to a potential lawsuit against the SPCA for knowingly adopting a dog that showed this type of aggression,” Martin said.