BRIARWOOD, Queens (WABC) -- A dog owner is speaking out after her 19-year-old French poodle mix ran out of her yard and ended up being euthanized by Animal Care Center of NYC just hours later.
Ericka Leon said she grew up with Leona. On Sunday, the dog walked away from the house and within three hours was located at the shelter in Brooklyn.
The dog was even posted by the shelter as lost, but at the very same time, inexplicably, was put down.
"A complete miscommunication, they had just been posting that they found the dog, and then they were killing her within hours," owner Juan Leon said.
In fact, Leona was apparently found and put down within three hours, even though the paperwork reads that no cruelty or trauma was detected.
Ericka insists all legal websites she can find mandate that shelters wait at least three days before they put a dog down in case the owner shows up. Three days -- not three hours.
ACC said the dog had no identification, no dog license and was not microchipped. They said she was spinning in circles and wobbly when walking.
They say after a vet performed a physical exam, they believed Leona was "in a very debilitated state and suffering from progressive neurologic symptoms. She was minimally aware of her surroundings, non-reactive to stimuli, weak and unable to stand for more than a few minutes before falling. She was emaciated with a body condition of 2/9 indicating possible chronic illness."
After reading notes that Leona was emaciated, Ericka said that was simply not true and her dog ate every day.
The family is planning a protest this Saturday at ACC in Brooklyn.
Ericka says her dog should still be alive and they should all be together. One day, if they decided to put her down, that should have been their choice -- their moment.
"That was something we wanted to do in the final moments, we would all be able to say goodbye," Ericka said.
ACC released a statement:
Leona was an approximately 15-year-old dog who presented to Animal Care Centers of New York City on March 12th, 2023, after being found in the middle of the road off of Grand Central Parkway and Smedley Street in Queens. She had no identification, no dog license and was not microchipped. Upon intake, Leona was seen spinning in circles and was wobbly when walking. A comprehensive physical exam was done by a veterinarian indicating that she was in a very debilitated state and suffering from progressive neurologic symptoms. She was minimally aware of her surroundings, non-reactive to stimuli, weak and unable to stand for more than a few minutes before falling. She was emaciated with a body condition of 2/9 indicating possible chronic illness.
The doctors at ACC do not take euthanasia lightly. It is their job to direct a course that is in the best interest of the animal. In Leona's case, given her present state and in addition to all the other chronic, debilitating conditions she had (heart disease, blind, deaf, and severe dental issues) the doctors believed her to be suffering.
For dogs with serious medical conditions and especially those stemming from extreme old age who are in pain and suffering, it is the duty of veterinary staff to provide peaceful end of life care. This decision is not made lightly but is always made in the best interest of the pet. In these cases, if a pet has been lost or abandoned, we scan for identification that ideally will lead us back to an owner before any end-of-life decision is made. However, if there is no information at all from a microchip or any other identification, we must make the decision on our own within the most humane timeframe. Euthanasia of stray animals is regulated by New York State Agriculture and Markets Law: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/AGM/A26.
In New York, by law veterinarians can proceed with euthanasia before the end of stray period, which is 3 days, if the animal is suffering.