Healdsburg Police said they are not getting involved in a probe of the details surrounding the euthanization of the dog Posey at despite earlier published reports that they would be looking into it.
Healdsburg Police Department’s Lt. Matt Jenkins said Friday the department has not been asked to investigate whether the Healdsburg Animal Shelter broke the law in making a decision to euthanasia Posey, the mixed-breed dog that was destroyed on Dec. 21.
"We have not received a directive to investigate," Jenkins said. Jenkins added that even if the request had been forthcoming, the department likely would have deferred such work to experts in the animal welfare field.
“The determination to euthanize an animal is one we leave to the experts,” he added. “We contract with the animal shelter for their expertise, and they had their experts make that determination.”
Healdsburg Mayor Susan Jones confirmed with Healdsburg Patch Thursday that she had asked City Manager Marjie Pettus for an investigation as to whether a city ordinance had been broken.
"There was an allegation that they [HAS] had broken the law," Jones said. "We take that seriously."
It was not immediately clear what occurred after Jones' made her request to Pettus. Pettus was unavailable for comment Friday due to city office closures.
The story broke on Dec. 30 when dogthusiast.com writer Jen deHaan wrote that Healdsburg Animal Shelter had broken Hayden’s law by not turning Posey over to a 501(c)(3) organization that put a rescue hold on the dog.
“The Healdsburg Animal Shelter in Sonoma County calls itself a No-Kill shelter on their website, but they recently killed a savable dog, Posey, despite an offer from a reputable 501(3)(c) rescue that offered to take her,” deHaan wrote on the website.
An email obtained by Healdsburg Patch indicates that All Aboard Search and Rescue did place a rescue hold on Posey.
“I am a nonprofit and [I] help troubled dogs and am putting a rescue hold on Posey,” Quinn stated in the email marked Dec. 20, 2012, the day before Posey was euthanized.
While Healdsburg Animal Shelter chairman Bill Anderson has stated that Quinn refused to give a physical address to HAS animal services director Judi Adams, Quinn disputes that statement.
“I was going into a meeting when we were on the phone,” said Quinn. “I told her [Judi Adams] I had to get permission to give the facility’s physical address.
"Judi said she would get back to me after she talked with her board of directors, and I said I would give her the address at that time," Quinn said.
“She never called back, and they euthanized Posey later that day,” Quinn said.
Quinn runs All Aboard Search and Rescue, a rescue organization that specializes in troubled dogs, particularly pit bulls.
Quinn said she was contacted by a Healdsburg Animal Shelter volunteer who had worked closely with Posey and who asked her to place the rescue hold. The volunteer strongly believed that the dog could be rehabilitated, Quinn said.
The volunteer, who no longer works at the shelter, declined to be identified publicly.
The volunteer said he also contacted Green Dog Rescue Project for help for Posey. Green Dog founder Colleen Combs, who also runs King's Kastle animal care facility, said she declined to place the rescue hold, as she had been sent a letter from the Healdsburg Animal Shelter last year stating they did not wish to work with her organization.
In recent days, an apparent disagreement has surfaced in the interpretation of Hayden's Law which falls under the Food and Agricultural Code of California.
As reported Wednesday by Healdsburg Patch, “the decision to euthanize a dog named Posey at Healdsburg Animal Shelter was HAS Chairman Bill Anderson said.
Anderson said Posey's situation fell under Food and Agricultural Code law section 31108.5 (b), which governs animals surrendered by owners because of a history of aggression.
Adams, the HAS animal services director, said Friday that the code referred to by Anderson was determined by the HAS animal welfare team of experts to be the appropriate code section and was applied in the Posey case. Adams listed the relevant code section as follows:
"Upon relinquishment, the dog may be made available for immediate euthanasia if it has a history of vicious or dangerous behavior documented by the agency charged with enforcing state and local animal laws."
Adams said the shelter did document everything and "we followed all the protocols set up by our advisory board," she said. The shelter did not euthanize Posey immediately, but instead tried to work with Posey for three months, Anderson said.
However, deHaan on dogthusiast.com disputes that Hayden's law did not apply in a second article, written Jan. 2, 2013.
According to deHaan, owner relinquished dogs are protected in the same manner as strays under Hayden Act provisions 31108 and 31752.
The following is a portion of Section 31108, as supplied by deHaan:
(b)…any stray dog that is impounded pursuant to this division shall, prior to the euthanasia of that animal, be released to a nonprofit, as defined in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, animal rescue or adoption organization if requested by the organization prior to the scheduled euthanasia of that animal. The public or private shelter may enter into cooperative agreements with any animal rescue or adoption organization. In addition to any required spay or neuter deposit, the public or private shelter, at its discretion, may assess a fee, not to exceed the standard adoption fee, for animals adopted or released.”
DeHaan continues in the article:
“Then they have the following section, which then applies those same rights to owner-relinquished cats and dogs (like Posey) [in section 31754]:
"…any animal relinquished by the purported owner that is of a species impounded by public or private shelters shall be held for the same holding periods, with the same requirements of care, applicable to stray dogs and cats in Sections 31108 and 31752…”
According to Quinn, All Aboard Search and Rescue had a commitment from both an experienced trainer and the volunteer to provide the training and desensitization Posey needed. The organization is a registered 501(c)(3) and carries liability insurance, she said.
Healdsburg Patch Editor Keri Brenner contributed to this story.