Monday, November 23, 2009

Check out comments at end of this KXAN story about Round Rock family distraught that city officials euthanized their dogs

Tears filled Courtney Swoboda's already puffy eyes as she looked at the large picture of Boomer, taking up the entire background on the laptop computer sitting on the coffee table in her living room.

The 4-year old lab-pit bull mix had a black coat, except for a small patch of white on his paws and chest. A a black graduation cap was perched on his head. The photo was snapped about two years ago when he graduated from dog obedience school.

Next, Courtney pulled up a photo of Dart. He was an all black lab mix who quickly became Boomer's partner in crime. In their younger years, the two would make a mess inside the Swoboda's home on Ferndale Drive in Round Rock.
While Courtney was home alone Wednesday afternoon, a Round Rock Animal Control Officer Christi Snell and a Round Rock police officer knocked on her front door.

"The lady started out, 'Your dog attacked me' And I'm thinking to myself, 'My dogs?' said Courtney.

Last time she checked on the two, they were sitting quietly near their doghouse in the fenced-in backyard. Sure enough, the two had been busy creating a small opening to sneak out of their new wooden fence.

According to a dispatch report, the Swoboda's backyard neighbors had called to report the 'dogs are very aggressive' and barking. They also claimed the dogs were keeping them from leaving.

"Clearly the dogs were trying to dominate the area and control anybody's movements in or out," said Round Rock police officer Eric Poteet, a spokesperson for the department who was not on scene.

Snell, who first responded to the call alone, said Dart ran toward her in the neighbor's backyard to attack so she hit him with her bite stick. She said Boomer also ran over and started circling her to attack.

Courtney and her husband, Sean, said their dogs had never attacked anyone before. While they did not witness the encounter with authorities, they assumed the first dog just wanted to check out the animal control officer, and when she started beating him with her baton, the other dog moved in to protect his brother.

The animal control officer gave Courtney three options. The first one was to pay $1,000 per day to the city ($500 per dog) to keep the dogs quarantined until a custody hearing, or take the dogs out of the county.

Courtney told her she needed some time to call her husband so they could discuss what to do.

"Because of my recent pay cuts, I knew that's not an option. I can't do that," said Courtney. "The other option-- she said 'you can surrender the dogs to me.' She said they'll be put down eventually."

The city told her she needed to make a decision right then. She signed an owner release form which gives the city full custody of the dogs. It also gives them the right to euthanize the dogs.

The officers asked Courtney to walk the dogs to the animal control vehicle so they could haul them away. One was on a leash, but the other was running loose. The police officer claims the unleashed dog charged at him and the animal control officer.

He pulled his gun and pointed it toward the dog. The dog stopped and backed away.

After the officers left, Courtney called family members to tell them what had happened. Her mother tried calling Snell's cell phone number listed on the business card she left with Courtney. When Courtney's mother reached someone at the police department around 4:45 p.m., a little less than two hours after the incident, someone told her over the phone the dogs have already been killed.

My mom had called me and said, 'Are you sitting down?' I said, 'What do you mean?' and I was like, 'They didn't put them down did they?' She said, 'They're both gone already," said Courtney.

The city said the dog's aggressive behavior left them no choice.

"Ultimately the dogs were euthanized because the owners could not take responsibility for them," said Poteet. "Aggressive animals don't leave you many options and that's a very sad thing--we don't like that."

Both the animal control officer, Christi Snell , who handled the case and her supervisor, Kim Harrington , declined to comment on camera about the case.

Story by KXAN

No comments:

Post a Comment