Hanover makes changes after dog is wrongfully euthanized

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - After a high-profile case, Hanover County has made some crucial changes in how it deals with missing animals. As a result, more pets are now being reunited with their owners.

In late July, heart-break hit after a woman's dog escaped from her yard. The 13-year-old lab mix, who didn't have tags on, was turned in to Animal Control and euthanized after being held for the 10 day limit. The sad story has led to positive changes though -- both from Animal Control and pet owners.

Gracie is back -- safe and sound at her Hanover County home. The high energy Jack Russell escaped through a hole in the fence back in September.

"I put her out like as normal and we came home and there was no Gracie. We looked and we looked and Gary got in the car and he searched for her. We couldn't find her anywhere. We called the dog pound and they were already closed," said Dianne Jackubowicz.

But when Dianne and Gary called the next morning, Animal Control informed them Gracie was okay. A lucky break for a dog who wasn't wearing identification. It's a situation that could have led to heartbreak. Dianne remembers how she felt that day.

"That I was a bad mother...ha-ha...she was gone, we had just adopted her. I just felt really bad that I let her get away, so I was very thankful to get her back," said Dianne.

It was not the same happy ending for Teresa Jacobsen. Her beloved dog Hershey got spooked by fireworks and took off on the 4th of July. Teresa searched for her and checked the Animal Control website daily, but by the time Hershey's picture showed up, it was too late. Pushed for space, the dog was put down.

"In her eyes, you could see she was sad and lost, and it shouldn't have happened," said Teresa.

After this tragedy came change. In August the Hanover County Board of Supervisors accepted recommendations to change how Animal Control searches for and deals with missing pets. They have revamped their procedures and are working to get pictures on the shelters website faster.

There's also now a link to connect owners of lost pets with people who've found pets. Another big change, which Kilgore says they've seen working better, is being more generic, realizing that a pet owner's description might not match exactly what he or another officer sees.

"We are getting less specific about breeds and become much more general and that's helped a lot. If it's a brown dog, it's a brown dog and anything that is even the remotest possibility of that animal, we'll call somebody now," said Hanover County Animal Control Sgt. Kevin Kilgore.

It's up to you too -- so don't forget your responsibility as a pet owner. Your best chance at being reunited with your dog or cat is to make sure they have on proper ID tags. Also consider getting your pet micro-chipped and make sure to keep the information updated.

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