Following weeks of controversy about a sudden spike in euthanasia at the Citrus County Animal Services shelter, a new director has been hired.
Almost five times more dogs were euthanized in September 2016 than in September 2015, according to the shelter’s records, though the intake of dogs remained the same with just an increase of three more dogs this year.
Although dogs are typically euthanized by owner’s request, medical reasons or because of a shelter’s overcrowding, Citrus County Community Services Director Tobey Phillips said that wasn’t the case for some dogs at Citrus County’s shelter during this time.
Phillips had stepped in to assist with making the decisions to euthanize dogs at the shelter after the previous director retired. She said many dogs that were deemed aggressive were being kept at the shelter without being rescued.
According to the county’s ordinance, aggressive dogs cannot be adopted out to the general public; however, the county does not define what makes a dog considered aggressive.
Phillips said some dogs were euthanized based on aggressive behavior, which added to the overall increase in euthanasia at the shelter between August and September. Volunteers at the shelter say this was done unfairly and in one dog’s case was determined through a three-day stay with a family called “slumber parties.”
Volunteers and dog trainers believe a couple days, and even weeks, isn’t enough time to determine whether a dog is truly aggressive.
Morgan Woodard, the new shelter director, started on Oct. 17, which is around the same time a new policy was implemented to place aggressive dogs on a five-day hold before being euthanized.
Since this policy started, the shelter has seen an increase in aggressive dogs being saved through adoption by rescue groups.