Animal advocates question Appomattox dog euthanasia case

Published: Sep. 20, 2016 at 5:45 PM EDT
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Becky Marsh has a soft spot for what she calls "special dogs."

"I just seem to connect with them," Marsh said. "The ones that others don't want."

She adopted her friend "Rosie" from the Appomattox County Animal Shelter.

"Her first few years of life were difficult and she is very cautious around people," explained Marsh.

It took some patience, but Marsh says Rosie eventually warmed up to her.

Things worked out so well that she planned to adopt another dog from Appomattox.

Sam was a Springer mix, roughly three years old. Marsh planned to pick him up last weekend, but when she got to the shelter she was told Sam was gone.

She later found out he'd been euthanized.

"I was sad, confused, and angry," Marsh said. "I still am."

Jean Wells worked with Sam as a volunteer at the shelter just a few days before he died.

She said he didn't have any health problems.

"I found him to be an extremely gentle dog," said Wells.

Wells said the shelter had several empty animal runs and, even though Sam had been up for adoption since February, she doesn't believe he was put down because of space issues.

"A euthanization is done when there's a reason to put a dog out of its misery," Wells said. "This was murder. This was execution."

Appomattox County administrator Susan Adams told WDBJ7 Tuesday she is very concerned about Sam's death. She's investigating the situation and has requested the dog's medical records.

In her preliminary findings, Adams said there doesn't appear to be a medically-related reason for Sam's death.

"I think that euthanasia has it's place," said Marsh. "I don't think this is a situation where it was called for."

Marsh said she hope's Sam's death will lead to a change in how adoptions are handled at the shelter.

Adams pointed out that the shelter has successfully adopted out 38 dogs and 16 cats over the last six weeks, despite only operating on limited hours with a small staff.