Hattiesburg couple's dog euthanized by local shelter

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A Hattiesburg couple's search for their missing dog ended in December when they discovered it had been picked up by animal control and euthanized by a local shelter.

Dorothy Stone and Robert Douglas started looking for Jojo, their chow dog, after they arrived home one evening before Christmas to find it had wandered away through an open gate.

They posted flyers that night, and when they called the city's animal control the next day they were told Jojo had been picked up and that she appeared to be fine. Jojo was found a few blocks from home. They said they were elated when they learned they could pick Jojo up at Southern Pines Animal Shelter the next day.

"By the time we found out she was lost, apparently she was already dead," said Stone.

When Dorothy Stone went to the shelter to pick Jojo up, she found out their dog of 12 years had been there for less than five hours before being euthanized.

"When I tried to look in its mouth to determine its age, it wouldn't let me look at its teeth - it was in pain," said shelter Manager Lara Hudson, who made the decision to euthanize Jojo.

Hudson said the dog was in bad shape, that she could not walk on her two back legs, that she was matted, old, and disoriented.

But Dorothy and Robert wanted closure, and they said the real heartbreak came when they had their dog autopsied and then took the charts to a second veterinarian for a second opinion, and both vets said Jojo was old but was a healthy uninjured dog.

"How can an autopsy show whether an animal is in excruciating pain days before? How can an autopsy show whether an animal can stand up and walk days before?" said Southern Pines board Vice President James Moore in response to the autopsy results. "If the animal had been chipped and ID'd this would have never happened. Southern Pines offers chips for $10."

Officials said the shelter is busy and overcrowded, and when an animal is dropped off there's only a 3 percent chance its owner will ever claim it. Decisions are often made quickly, and while Hudson says they try to always look out for the interest of the animal, the decisions are sometimes wrong.

"If I make a mistake, I thoroughly apologize, but that's what I have to do every day, and it's not fun," said Hudson.

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