(CN) – Animal rights advocates sued a San Bernadino shelter that euthanized a small shih tzu over Memorial Day weekend despite efforts to rescue the dog.
Animal Resources Inc. and its president Dennis Pickersgill say the county-run Devore Animal Shelter mishandled the dog, Hope, which could have been a victim of abuse.
“There is no justifiable reason for Devore Animal Shelter to kill Hope,” according to the complaint in superior court.
Animal Resources claims it was authorized to act on the dog’s behalf in a “Companion Animal Trust” capacity.
On May 18, Hope was allegedly brought to the privately-run Dog Days Inn by her owner for quarantine. The owner reported that Hope had bitten her child, according to the complaint.
Animal Resources says Hope’s behavior at Dog Days Inn revealed a possible history of abuse.
“On information and belief, Hope first cowered when approached and when realized that he would not be struck, began wagging his tail and greeting other individuals in the lobby of Dog Days Inn displaying an eager to please, sweet natured disposition,” according to the complaint.
“San Bernadino County Animal Care & Control formally recognizes that there are many reasons a dog may bite including being teased, hurt or threatened,” the group added.
After Dog Days Inn transferred Hope to San Bernadino-run Devore shelter, several rescue groups allegedly tried to take custody of the dog.
Animal Resources says Devore “has stridently refused to accept those offers,” as well as the trust created for Hope’s benefit.
“Devore shelter erroneously stated that Hope’s then owner requested that the dog be killed when Hope was turned in at Dogs Days Inn for quarantine,” according to the complaint. But Animal Resources says Hope’s owner never requested euthanization.
Though San Bernadino animal control can release abused animals accused of biting to qualified, nonprofit animal rescuers, Devore rebuffed such efforts according to the complaint.
The shelter waited until May 25 to announce its refusal, according to the complaint. “As a result of the defendants’ last minute response to plaintiff’s provision of trust documents and formal request for release of Hope, plaintiff was prevented from seeking a temporary restraining order without interrupting the court’s Memorial Day weekend for the sake of a unable (sic) to provide formal notice to defendant,” the complaint states.
On May 27, one day before Hope was scheduled to be put down on Memorial Day, the nonprofit allegedly emailed and hand-delivered a letter stating its intention to seek a temporary restraining order and order to show cause.
“Hope could be removed from Devore Animal Shelter and be given proper care at absolutely zero cost to San Bernadino County,” the complaint states (emphasis in original). “In fact, removing Hope from Devore Animal Shelter would save the city the costs of killing her and disposing of her [sic] body.”
Hope was euthanized as scheduled.
Animal Resources filed suit a day later, May 29, for declaratory and injunctive relief.
It is represented by Talitha Wegner in Los Angeles.