Man says support animal was wrongfully euthanized


HENRY COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) – A veteran claims his support animal was euthanized at a Henry County shelter while he was on vacation.

To Leon Washington, Rocko, his dog of two years, was more than a pet. He was family. The American Bully breed was also a support animal to Washington, who lives with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from his time in the U.S. Marine Corps.

“It’s been really hard man, like, real hard,” Washington said. “He relaxed me. Humans show love one way. Dogs show love another way, and to kill a dog because of the breed, that’s unnecessary.”

“Killing these dogs like that is not cool. That was my friend.”

A veteran’s support animal was euthanized while he was on vacation. Why the man believes his dog’s breed played a factor? Plus, Henry Co Animal Control responds at 5/6 on @cbs46.

— Zac Summers (@ZacOnTV) June 21, 2022

Washington said Rocko ran off from their Ellenwood home a day before the family was to leave for Hawaii. When they landed on June 7, Washington received a notification from the company that microchipped Rocko, saying someone had dropped off the dog at the Henry County Animal Shelter.

Washington said he called the shelter and a staff member told him Rocko could stay at the shelter until he returned from vacation. However, there would be a daily fee of $5.

“I said, ‘Are you sure he’s going to be OK until I get back,’” Washington recalled. “She said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Are you sure he’s going to be OK till I get back?’ She said, ‘Yes, just make sure you come in when you get back.’”

When Washington went to pick up Rocko last Wednesday, he learned the shelter had euthanized the dog the day before. Washington said staff told him “certain” unclaimed breeds are put down after four days at the shelter, excluding Sundays and county holidays.

“The only thing they can tell me is, ‘I’m sorry,’ Washington said. “That don’t bring him back. That was my friend.”

The Henry County Animal Care and Control is a division of the Henry County Police Department. In an email to CBS46, a spokesperson confirmed a citizen turned Rocko into the shelter on June 7. The spokesperson said multiple attempts were made to contact Washington to no avail.

“On 6/14/2022, Henry County Animal Care and Control’s Policies/Procedures were followed resulting in the dog being euthanized,” he added.

Henry County has an ordinance that states if an animal is not reclaimed by its owner in four days, it’s relinquished to animal control and may be “immediately adopted, destroyed or otherwise disposed of.”

“Killing these dogs like that man is, it’s not cool,” Washington said. “It’s not cool at all. There has to be another way. There has to be another way.”

Washington said he did not receive multiple calls from the shelter. He cautioned animal lovers who might encounter a wandering dog, to be sure the shelter they’re dropping off the animal to is a no-kill shelter. He said had he known Rocko was at risk of being euthanized, he would have done everything in his power to have someone retrieve him.

“Try to find a Humane Society, no-kill shelter or something to take those animals to because in Henry County, if you take them to their shelter and nobody claims them within their timeframe, they’re going to kill them,” Washington added.

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