UPDATE, 8:42 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.
Healdsburg Police are investigating whether the euthanization of Posey at Healdsburg Animal Shelter was carried out within guidelines of the city's municipal code, according to an article posted online tonight by the Press Democrat.
According to the article, Healdsburg Mayor Susan Jones requested the probe after questions were raised by a writer on the online blog dogthusiast.
To read the article, click here.
UPDATE, 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.
The decision to euthanize a dog named Posey at Healdsburg Animal Shelter was "absolutely not a Hayden (Act) situation," said Bill Anderson, shelter board chairman.
"Posey was brought to us for surrender because of severe aggression issues," Anderson said. "Under the California Food and Agriculture code 311085 (b), she could have been available for immediate euthanasia.
"We did not do that,"Anderson said. "We tried behavior modification, but it didn't work."
Anderson made his remarks after an article in an online blog, dogthusiast, accused the shelter of "breaking the law" by violating California's Hayden Act.
The article and some local "no-kill" activists claim Posey was saveable because a rescue organization, All Aboard Animal Search and Rescue, had offered to take her in and arrange for rehabilitation. In that case, according to Hayden's Act, a "rescue hold" should be put on the dog -- but only if it is a stray. Posey was not a stray, Anderson said.
"Our advisory board, which has a collective 130 years of animal welfare experience, went through the whole (evaluation) process," Anderson said. "Our board of directors didn't get involved."
In addition, Anderson said, the shelter "made every attempt to determine where the dog was going to be held (by All Aboard Animal Search and Rescue), but they couldn't confirm a location."
Healdsburg Animal Shelter could not release a dog if the rescue group didn't give HAS an address of where the dog was going to be kept, he said.
"This dog was severely kennel-stressed," he said. "If the dog goes out from our shelter, we have to be able to come and see the facility and understand the parameters of how the dog will be cared for."
He said no one on the advisory board takes euthanasia lightly, and that it is only a "last resort," and "very rarely used," Anderson said.
ORIGINAL STORY, 12:48 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.
Local 'no-kill' animal activists say they are outraged by reports of the death of Posey, a 2-year-old female mixed breed dog euthanized at Healdsburg Animal Shelter on Dec. 21.
"The Healdsburg Animal Shelter...calls itself a no-kill shelter, but they recently killed a saveable dog," says blogger Jen deHaan in a Dec. 30 article in dogthusiast. DeHaan says Posey was killed about 24 hours after a rescue organization, All Aboard Animal Search and Rescue, had offered to take Posey and arrange for the dog's rehabilitation with a certified trainer.
However, Healdsburg shelter officials say that Posey was deemed to be dangerous to other dogs by two animal behaviorists and was evaluated as such by the shelter's euthanasia committee. Posey had a history of dog-aggression that was not improving during her three months at the shelter, said
"The dog was surrendered to HAS by her adopted family because of aggression to another dog," Adams said. "Here at the shelter, she jumped the fence and attacked another dog.
"She was under severe kennel stress and was clearly going crazy," Adams added. "It was inhumane to keep her here and she was not adoptable -- it would not have been responsible to put her out in the community."
But some local activists say they are unconvinced.
"Healdsburg Animal Shelter ended the year by breaking the law," said Vickie Brown, a Sonoma County 'no-kill' activist, referring to the California Hayden Act. Brown, reacting to the dogthusiast article, said it appears that the Healdsburg shelter violated the Hayden Act by euthanizing Posey even though the dog was working with shelter volunteers and had a rescue organization offering to be on board.
"Why are there never any repercussions when government and nonprofits break the law?," Brown said. "But if a citizen does it, Judi Adams will be out there issuing citations.
"Who is this mysterious 'executive committee' that decided Posey's death even though they had a Rescue Hold sitting there?" Brown added." If this dog was so dangerous, why could a volunteer walk this dog?
"Apparently the dog was safe enough for that," Brown said. "Yet it wasn't safe enough for this shelter to uphold the California and city law when a rescue was going to take it."
But Adams said the Hayden Act provision regarding rescue agencies applies to stray dogs -- not dogs who are surrendered voluntarily to the shelter because of danger to other dogs or humans.
"Posey was not a stray," Adams said. "She was not on a stray hold period." Adams said she is in the process of obtaining a clear legal opinion from the shelter's resident Hayden Act expert and said she will be supplying Healdsburg Patch with a statement as soon as possible.
According to a quote from the Hayden Act in the dogthusiast article, "(b) any stray dog (boldface added) that is impounded pursuant to this division shall, prior to the killing of that animal for any reason other than irremediable suffering, 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 killing of that animal."
Controversy over Posey's death comes just over a year since a major public outcry over a Healdsburg Animal Shelter dog named Cash. In the wake of that controversy, Cash, a mastiff/pitbull mix, was ultimately saved from euthanasia and transferred to King's Kastle animal care center in Windsor, where he is still a resident.
Public outrage about Cash led to a chef-owner of the now-closed Healdsburg upscale restaurant Cyrus, a reorganization of the shelter's board of directors and a ban on public comments by shelter volunteers.
Also, subsequent to the controversy, then-executive director Julie Seal submitted her resignation.
Over the past year, however, euthanasia issues have been mostly supplanted by serious problems with HAS's new but uninhabitable and severely substandard shelter building. and said the legal process to reclaim damages of millions of dollars spent on the building could take up to two years.
Brown, however, says she is concerned the shelter was "retaliating" against Mary Quinn, owner of All Aboard Animal Search and Rescue, the agency that offered to take Posey. She said that Quinn, who earlier had applied for a transfer agreement with HAS to work on animals that need rescue, was turned down on the application after the dogthusiast article -- which named Quinn -- came out.
"Healdsburg Animal Shelter is not recruiting new partners at this time," says a letter to Quinn from Adams and obtained by Healdsburg Patch.
"We are currently working with several organizations that have been able to satisfy our rescue partnership requirements to date.
"I do appreciate your interest, however, and will let you know should our needs change in the future," Adams says in the letter to Quinn.
Asked Wednesday about Brown's allegations of "retaliation," however, Adams said she "didn't know" what Brown meant and had no word on any such action or process.
HAS Board Chairman Bill Anderson was not at the shelter Wednesday and could not be reached for immediate comment. [Editor's note: Anderson's comments added in update above].