Animal rights groups, residents question way shelter dogs were euthanized. They were shot
Animal rights groups and residents of Winona, a city of approximately 4,500 residents located 80 miles north of Jackson off of I-55, are calling for accountability and change after an Animal Control Officer shot several dogs who were impounded by the city.
In Defense of Animals, the international animal protection organization operating Hope Animal Sanctuary and Justice for Animals Campaign in Mississippi, and the Winona Animal Advocacy Group, recently brought the issue to the public’s attention via a press release.
UPDATE:Police chief, animal officer suspended; community wants them fired after shooting dogs
“I am one of hundreds of heartbroken Winona residents,” said Doll Stanley, Justice for Animals Campaign senior campaigner for In Defense of Animals, who has rescued Winona’s animals for 30 years. “Mayor (Aaron) Dees and Chief Daniels need to show good faith and say how many dogs were shot and ensure this will never happen again.”
It is unclear whether shooting is an acceptable method of euthanizing dogs in Mississippi. However, Mississippi Code 41-53-11 allows officials to euthanize unclaimed dogs after holding them a number of days but does not specify a means of euthanizing the animals. American Veterinary Medicine Association guidelines say shooting dogs is an acceptable method of euthanizing them.
Calls to representatives of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals seeking comment for this story were not immediately returned.
A similar case in MS:Mayor: Mississippi police did shoot 8 dogs at animal shelter. But it was legal and humane.
Doll said in the press release that the city’s board of aldermen on March 8 made animal control services a division of the Winona Police Department.
“Chief Daniels introduced his new-hire Animal Control Officer Vidal Anderson, son-in-law to Mayor Aaron Dees,” Stanley said in the press release.
City officials and attendees approved of Daniels’ appointment of Anderson and when he expressed the challenges posed by stray dogs wandering through yards and traffic.
“Chief Daniels was concerned that the city pound was at capacity and most of the dogs had been impounded far beyond the city’s 10-day holding period,” Stanley writes in the press release. “The city facility is in great disrepair and has only six runs, limiting the number of dogs and their stay. For years, city officials have discussed seeking grants to build a new facility.”
Stanley states that on March 9, Anderson and an inmate were seen unloading four dogs from the city truck, tethering them, and then shooting them.
“One, a small black dog was wagging his tail as he was shot,” Stanley says an unnamed witness told In Defense of Animals, and the witness shared pictures of pools of blood on the ground where the dogs were allegedly shot.
Stanley wrote a letter to Dees, copied City Attorney Adam Kirk and questioned the legality and ethics of shooting dogs.
“Stanley and WAAG member Carol Griffin uncovered two of the dogs shot and disposed of in the city dumps, which is a misdemeanor offense,” the press release states. “There were more bags mixed in with discarded furniture pieces and general trash.”
During a meeting between advocates, residents and the Mayor, Dees said that Daniels instructed a police officer to shoot the dogs but Anderson later posted a confession on social media that he had shot the dogs.
“At this intense meeting both the mayor and the chief disclosed that it was ACO Anderson who shot the dogs,” the press release states, adding that the police chief threatened to arrest an individual for “disrespecting him at the meeting.”
Dees and Daniels later agreed to implement a humane policy to kill unadopted dogs, and Daniels apologized for their decision to have the dogs shot.
“An apology is positive, but ACO Anderson and Chief must be terminated,” Stanley said. “Animal care services must be placed back under the mayor, not the police department.”
The press release further states that former Mayor Jerry Flowers rejected allegations that prior administrations allowed the shooting of the city’s impounded dogs.
“During my 14 years as mayor of Winona, our animal control officer never executed any dog with a gun with my knowledge,” Flowers said, according to the press release. “We fed and housed the dogs for a minimum of 10 days. We went to great extents to find homes for our sheltered animals. When efforts to place dogs were exhausted, and it was cruel to continue to confine them without hope, they were humanely euthanized by a veterinarian.”
Regarding the most recent incident, Stanely said, “Four dogs were initially admitted as shot, which later rose to six, but citizens now know the shelter was full. Witness Andreas Woods told WAAG he and other witnesses saw the ACO shoot the dogs and put their bodies in a dumpster, including a mom and pups who were in the shelter on March 1st shot. He heard 8 gunshots.”
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Dogs were shot, killed in Winona, MS, by animal control officer