MONTGOMERY, AL — An animal shelter in Montgomery is admitting it made an “awful error” when it euthanized a Montgomery family’s dog. Kim Wright’s pit bull, Vinnie, was missing when she returned home from work Monday. On her door was a notice from a Montgomery Humane Society officer saying the dog had been picked up while running loose in the neighborhood.

When Wright called the shelter, no one could find Vinnie. He wasn’t in his kennel, and after a battery of questions, shelter employees determined Vinnie had somehow gotten loose and promised to mount a search for him, according to an account in the Montgomery Advertiser.

Wright enlisted her neighbors to help in the search, posting on social media that she was “legit hurt” over the losing the dog and just wanted him back home.

Then the horrible truth about what had happened to Vinnie came out. Mistaking Vinnie for another pit bull, the beloved family pet was euthanized.

“I broke down,” Wright told the Advertiser. “That’s my dog. I think it’s harder for my son. My son looked at Vinnie like a best friend. It is hard for me to see my child go through that.”

Steven Tears, the shelter’s executive director, told the newspaper the dog was euthanized despite safety nets that are in place, but Wright wonders why her dog was killed so quickly after having been at the shelter for only a few hours.

“There’s no excuse for him to get picked up at 9:45, and when I get off work at 2:30, he’s no longer around,” Wright said.

Animal control laws in both the city and Montgomery County prescribe waiting periods of five and seven days, respectively, before decisions about euthanasia are made.

About 670,000 shelter dogs are euthanized every year, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The rescue group Save-A-Bull cites research showing about 75 percent of municipal shelters immediately euthanize pit bulls after they’re taken in and only one in six is adopted. That stems largely from the perception that pit bulls are dangerous, a topic that has generated vigorous debate.

Tears told the Advertiser Vinnie’s breed had “nothing to do” with the error that resulted in his death, and said the Montgomery Humane Society has “fought for [pit bulls] when other people were turning their backs.

He said “there’s absolutely no excuse” for what happened to Vinnie, and the shelter is taking a look at its systems.

» Read the full story on the Montgomery Advertiser.

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