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Animal Welfare Case Questions Neglect, Animal Services

Social media posts about "Hope," a dog animal advocates say was starving and dehydrated, led to a KEZI story and then to a response from the Eugene Police Department. Hope the dog, whose name is actually Zena, according to EPD, has since been put to sleep by her owner.

Animal advocates including Tamara Barnes of No Kill Lane County have complained about the way the case has been handled by animal services as well as about Lane County's policy of not filing criminal charges in animal neglect cases. A petition has been started at Change.org and a Facebook page, Justice for Hope, give details on the issue.

The KEZI story, which can be read or watched in its entirety here, starts off:

A group of local animal lovers say they saved a dog Friday after a friend saw the animal emaciated in the backyard of a home.

Gail Kiefer says when she got the call about the dog, now called Hope, she went to the house near the intersection of Bertelsen and Elmira, called animal control, and tried to track down the owner.

No one was home so she went into the backyard, took the dog, and rushed it to the Four Corners Vet Clinic where the dog got food, fluids, and medication.

The vet says he’s never seen anything like this. Kiefer says while she knows she could get in trouble for taking the dog, she couldn’t leave the dog to suffer.

The KEZI story led to a response from EPD, which talked to Zena's owner who said the elderly dog with heart disease had lost "a significant amount of weight" over the last year "but still seemed happy." That release is below.

News Release

February 24, 2015

Animal Welfare Case Information

After a local media report about a dog who was reported to possibly be neglected, there have been people concerned about the dog. Eugene Animal Welfare would like to clarify information about the dog and its situation.

On February 3 - there was a single report of a young dog that was possibly the victim of animal neglect in the Bethel area. Animal Welfare attempted to follow up on the original report five times between February 8 and February 18. An animal welfare officer went to the home on February 8, February 9, February 11, and February 15  and February 18. On February 15, the animal welfare officer took a police officer with him, and on another visit he asked roofers nearby if they could spot the dog in the backyard. They were unable to see the dog. Police officers and animal welfare officers are not legally permitted to enter private premises without probable cause, consent or a warrant.

On February 20,  a woman broke into the yard and stole the dog. She tried to leave the dog, Zena, at 1st Avenue Shelter, which can’t take dogs that have been removed from their owners without permission. Shelter staff provided water for the dog and instructed the woman to wait for Animal Welfare to respond to. The woman left the shelter with Zena prior to the arrival of the animal welfare officer and took her to a veterinarian in Santa Clara. The veterinarian also could not take the dog under that type of circumstance. The woman then called a third party, who had her take it take it to the vet at Four Corners. That third party  took the dog home after it was treated.

On February 22, Zena’s worried owner reported her stolen.  The owner had been away from home and had a dog sitter caring for the animal, which may account for not being able to get ahold of him.  A police officer was able to track the dog down and took it to an emergency vet for treatment. The veterinarian kept the dog overnight. According to the emergency vet, Zena is a 17-year-old, geriatric dog with cardiac disease and a heart murmur. Cardiac disease causes chronic wasting. According to the emergency veterinarian, who last checked the dog, she was in relatively good condition, despite her age, blindness and heart disease.

An investigation showed the owner had Zena on a healthy diet to try to put weight on and kept her mostly inside the house. The owner has had Zena since she was a puppy. He told police that over the past year, she has lost a significant amount of weight but that she still seemed happy. Yesterday, the owner made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize his well-loved pet.  

This is a difficult case to investigate as it involves people with good intentions who felt they were doing the right thing, but did not have all the information.    The pet owner was faced with difficult end-of-life decisions for his pet of 17 years. 

 

No Kill Lane County's response to the EPD release and updates are on the Facebook page.