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Fitchburg's Dept. of Public Works concerned about liability with animal shelter

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The Fitchburg Animal Shelter in Fitchburg, Mass. was closed last week due to an ongoing investigation into the death of a dog that was picked up by animal control and euthanized without following proper authorization or legalities. Now the Department of Public Works is concerned about the liabilities the shelter may incur, according to the Sentinel and Enterprise.

The abilities of the shelter volunteers has never been in question as Lenny Laakso, Commissioner of the Dept. of Public Works, stated. He commended them on a job well done and acknowledged they are very dedicated to the animals.

According to the directive that was sent to the Division of Animal Health, the shelter did not have to close. It was directed not to take in any more animals. Shelter Manager Amy Egeland took it upon herself to move all of the dogs out of the shelter, though Laakso told Egeland to care for the remaining dogs.

The Fitchburg Animal Shelter was told to suspend operations indefinitely until the ongoing investigation was resolved. City officials are now considering outsourcing the intake of animals.

Laakso is concerned about the liability the shelter faces, not only with the current investigation, but the fact volunteers and neighborhood dogs have been bitten in the past. He is not sure the city should take on the liability of such incidents. It also comes down to the expense of keeping a shelter running in the city.

Councilor-at-Large Dean Tran was quoted by the Sentinel and Enterprise as saying “we have seen increased expenses and now liability issues have ceased all operations and an imminent closing of the shelter is very possible.”

As far as the ongoing investigation, not all parties have been interviewed. Though a state report places the blame on Egeland and Animal Control Officer Susan Kowaleski, Assistant Animal Control Officer Michael East, the man who euthanized Capone via orders, has not been asked who gave him the order to put the dog down. Capone was deemed “vicious” after he allegedly attacked another dog in the shelter, but never got the full stray hold before being euthanized.

Meanwhile, dogs are being taken to surrounding shelters and rescues until the entire matter is resolved.

Related:
Fitchburg Animal Shelter closes surrounding controversy
Family pet put down by Fitchburg animal control without stray hold
Fitchburg woman outraged over shelter's excuse for killing family dog

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