“Although this is a tragic situation for any family to endure, with the information and statements afforded to me, I am of the opinion that all policies and procedures were followed and I can find no wrong doings or violations on the part of any Polk County Animal Control Officers involved,” Lacey wrote in the investigation paperwork.
According to statements from Sgt. Marc Riley of the Aragon Police Department, the police were called about the dog running loose at the Dollar General Store because store employees couldn’t find the number to animal control.
The 6-year-old golden retriever named Ace, belonging to the Wilkes family down the street from the store, kept trying to get into customer’s vehicles, according to reports.
Riley said in his statement to Lacey the dog appeared to have mange and “something is wrong with the dog’s ear,” although the report doesn’t indicate the ear was ever checked.
Riley called into 911 under the “sick/injured dog” code.
Kristie Wilkes said Ace didn’t have mange but had another skin disorder, which was being treated with medication.
The only other physical problem noted in the report was that store employees said the dog appeared to be in pain when it tried to sit down and was “whinny,” The report said.
However, those at the store during the incident told The Rockmart Journal last week the dog didn’t appear to be injured at all and even tried to jump in the animal control truck.
Lacey provided The Rockmart Journal with the intake report for Ace. According to that report, the only physical issue with the dog was mange.
The report also doesn’t have a euthanasia date or even a check mark showing the animal was euthanized. It also doesn’t have any remarks listed as a reason for euthanization.
According to the internal report, store employees told animal control the dog had been around the store “numerous times” in the past three weeks.
The family disputes that and said this was only the dog’s third visit to the store. Those at the store said in interviews they were aware the dog belonged to a nearby family, even though the county report makes no mention of any statements from store employees or customers indicating that.
The report said the dog had no identification or microchip and doesn’t mention a collar. The Wilkes said the dog had lost his tags but was wearing a new collar.
The Wilkes said they had tried to call the shelter at 8 a.m. Feb. 23 to come pick up Ace, but got no answer. After calling around, a volunteer told them the shelter opened at noon.
Lacey was asked about the shelter’s schedule. He said opening at noon on Thursdays is part of the shelter’s normal business hours.
According to Lacey, the shelter is closed during the morning in order to clean it and for the veterinarian to perform euthanizations.
According to the report, animal control officer Padgett was doing a wellness check on the dogs at 8 a.m. Feb. 23 and found Ace throwing up blood.
He notified Director Jeff Crawford who looked at the dog, reports stated. Crawford said in the report that the dog’s eyes were matted together, there was blood in the kennel and the animal had mange.
Crawford contacted veterinarian Dr. Todd Hughes, who in contracted for services the shelter, reports stated.
“It was at this time Director Crawford made the decision to have the dog euthanized,” the report states. “According to a letter by Dr. Hughes, considering the condition of the dog, Dr. Hughes did not attempt to override Director Crawford’s decision.”
Hughes submitted a letter regarding the incident to Polk County, including Lacey, Crawford, County Manager Clinton Lester, and Assistant Manager Matt Denton.
In Hughes’ letter, he states he was performing his weekly task of euthanizing animals at Polk Animal Control and this dog was brought to him with four others to the euthanized.
He noted this dog had a chronic skin disease and stated that determining what caused the disease would require lab tests. Hughes also stated the dog had the skin problem for “a considerable length of time.”
Hughes did not note any injuries or health problems in his letter.
According to Polk County Animal Control guidelines sent to The Rockmart Journal by Lacey, any sick or injured animal deemed by a licensed veterinarian to be suffering to such an extent that the humane destruction of the animal is appropriate and the owner of the animal cannot be located, shall be humanely destroyed by the veterinarian.
Yet, Hughes said in his letter the decision to kill Ace wasn’t made by him.
“I did not take a direct role in preparing the morning census. However, given the chronic appearance and the potential for communal or zoonatic disease transmission, I did not attempt to override the Director’s decision,” Hughes wrote.
The Wilkes family, who talked to Crawford when the shelter opened at noon, was upset not only to find out that their pet had been killed but that they wouldn’t be given the body.
Crawford told them their dog’s body had already been disposed of even though, according to the shelter’s internal investigation report, he had been killed that morning.
According to the shelter’s guidelines, disposal must be by burial or incinerator and must be done within 12 hours of death.