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Fitchburg Animal Shelter closes surrounding controversy

Fitchburg Animal Shelter
Fitchburg Animal Shelter
Ashley Green / Sentinel and Enterprise

The mayor of Fitchburg, Mass., Lisa Wong, shut down the Fitchburg Animal Shelter Friday amid an investigation by the Department of Agriculture into the controversy surrounding the euthanization of a family's dog, according to The Sentinel and Enterprise.

The shelter manager, Amy Egeland, was caught unawares and had to scramble to place the dogs currently housed in the shelter. All of the dogs made it out safely and were placed into area rescues, according to the Fitchburg Animal Shelter Facebook page.

Back in April on Easter Sunday, Maghan Moynihan's dog, Capone, escaped his yard. She immediately called animal control and went to search for him. Moynihan had to leave a message since it was a Sunday. Capone was picked up by a concerned resident, Gabriel Lorman, who then called animal control to come get him.

Moynihan received a call Tuesday morning, less than 48 hours later, but not to come get her dog. She was asked to go to the shelter to identify her dog's body. Capone had been euthanized without her knowledge and before the stray hold was up.

What ensued was differing stories as to what happened.

Susan Kowaleski, Fitchburg's Animal Control Officer, was out sick on Tuesday morning and never got the message from Moynihan. Kowaleski got a text message from Assistant Animal Control Officer Michael East regarding an incident that occurred at the shelter on Monday.

At first the shelter said Capone got out of his kennel and bit Egeland and another dog she was handling, but later changed the story. The story that followed was that Capone simply attacked the dog Egeland was handling and that dog turned and attacked Egeland.

It was reported that Kowaleski gave East the go-ahead to euthanize Capone.

According to a report that was leaked to The Sentinel and Enterprise, Kowaleski denies any responsibility for putting Capone down. She indicated that she never gave East the authorization to euthanize Capone, and that instead it was Egeland who did. Egeland disputes this and stated that Kowaleski told East to euthanize Capone.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture has been in and out of the shelter taking photos and copying shelter records. Now the shelter is closed and its future unknown.

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