Woman's dog mistakenly euthanized at Harris Co. animal shelter

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Administrators for Harris County's animal shelter admit they mistakenly euthanized someone's pet, and they said they are working to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Cathy Foster said Diesel is four years old, and he was adopted along with another dog, Chelsea, for puppies.

"She was my sweetheart," Foster said. "She definitely was my sweetheart."

Foster doesn't want us to show her face because she's too upset after what happened to Chelsea.

She told Eyewitness News her home burned down in March, and as a result, Diesel and Chelsea were staying with her daughter.

On Monday, the dogs got loose.

"I'm not complaining about the dog pound picking them up, because that's the name of the game. Your dogs get out, they get picked up, you pay the fine."

Foster said she and her daughter made arrangements with the Harris County Animal Shelter to pick up the dogs last Friday.

"And she even confirmed back to me that I would be there between 2 and 5, we'd be picking them up on Friday, everything was fine," Foster said.

When she got to the shelter at her scheduled time Friday, however, it was anything but fine.

"We could find Diesel, but no Chelsea," Foster said. "Then they're scrambling around with our paperwork. Nobody knew who had it, where it was at."

She discovered Chelsea had been euthanized by mistake.

"He said they have a ritual they go through every morning. He said some dogs make the list, some dogs don't and he said he could not explain why Chelsea was on that list," Foster said.

"She should have never been on that list. She was accidentally put on the list."

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Three Baytown animal control officers have been charged with improperly euthanizing dogs.

The Harris County Animal Shelter declined our request for an interview to answer exactly how this mistake happened, but sent a statement. It said, in part:

"As a result of this incident, the appropriate employees have been disciplined. I have ordered a review of this event and we will implement additional employee training to prevent this from happening in the future."

"He said, 'If it makes you feel any better, there will be people fired,' and I'm like, 'That's not gonna bring my dog back.'"

Foster is calling for better education for employees.

"It's a shame, you know, there needs to be a lot of difference in that facility," she said.

She's also pushing for a more streamlined workflow.

"They need to be higher educated on the jobs that they do," Foster said. "They're handling people's loved ones, it's not just animals they're there for."

Foster said she believes the staff is overwhelmed.

A spokeswoman for the shelter told Eyewitness News it is extremely overcrowded, and that they are currently holding about 500 animals. Their capacity is 150.

The director did not agree to an interview, but said employees involved in this incident have been disciplined and other employees will go through more training.

SEE ALSO: Harris County Animal Shelter receives 59 puppies in under an hour

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