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High kill shelter euthanized dog moments before rescue organization arrived

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Imprisoned in a kennel cage for six months, Rocky had been seized from his former owners because of inadequate fencing. A list of requirements handed down before Rocky could be returned demanded expenses the previous owners could not afford.

Shortly after the pit bull terrier and mastiff mix was seized in August 2013, his adoption photograph appeared on Pet Harbor; on and off but a clear indication Rocky had been made available for adoption.

Then on March 5, Rocky's photo appeared again with "Rescue Only" marked next to his name. No documentation had ever been produced giving any reason for the restrictions, but humane advocates worked diligently to find a qualified organization able to work with Rocky and follow all city and state requirements for Rocky's subsequent approved rescue.

Read Rocky's story by clicking here.

Rocky's miracle came! Details were worked out; donations for Rocky's rescue and training were pledged, and at noon on March 5, the rescue volunteer arrived at San Bernardino Animal County Shelter to leash up A452039 and walk Rocky out of the building by the front door.

It was not to be; as the volunteer arrived, Rocky's kennel was empty; the poster read "Euthanized."

In an email to the rescue organization, Sergeant Adam Affrunti of the San Bernardino Police Department replied:

"... this animal was confiscated after he was involved in several attacks. After the court heard the case, the hearing officer ruled that Rocky was a “potentially dangerous dog” and put a number of restrictions on the owner to insure he was properly contained to prevent him from attacking anyone else.Being a public servant, I did not feel that Rocky should be released, even to a rescue, in order to insure the safety of the public, in my community or not. I am not sure why any rescue would believe that he was going to be released, I assure you I did not promise anyone I was going to release him... he had manifested a severe behavior disorder that would not allow him to be suitable for placement as a pet. This is a misfortunate (sic) situation, and assure you we did everything we could to make his stay here as pleasant as possible."

Why was Rocky kept at the shelter for nearly seven months? Why was there no previous indication that this dog was to be euthanized? Wouldn't any dog locked up for six months in a kennel need special attention and care?

Sadly, Rocky was just doomed to die. Volunteers stated, although Rocky was not allowed out of his kennel, the dog was gentle and friendly. Earlier that morning, Rocky had been sleeping peacefully on his cot; perhaps he was dreaming of running in the park and chasing squirrels?

In a response to Sergeant Affrunti's notification of Rocky's demise, volunteer and animal advocate stated:

"...The staff at SBC also DID note Rocky's file when the Rescue called to confirm a rescue pull. Never was it stated that this dog was not available to be rescued.

I am also confused that a Hearing Officer would allow a "potentially dangerous dog" to be returned to his owner if the owner would have complied with the number of restrictions, and proper containment set at the Hearing. It is very confusing that perhaps a potentially irresponsible owner could have claimed his dog, but a responsible Rescue that funds Certified Trainers and appropriately kennels a dog of this nature is denied.

...I believe perhaps more confusion has occurred because the staff and volunteers at SBC loved this dog. Rocky was never actually temperament tested by a Certified Temp Tester

...The last minute judgment call to "un list" Rocky as rescue only, to unavailable, has further devalued what the rescue process is about. Rocky had a life time commitment by a rescue to train and rehabilitate him. Dogs with worse behavior than you have noted with Rocky, have been in the public eye from confiscation, 100% rehabilitation and re-homed. These "potentially aggressive dogs" have been shown in many human interest stories, various media outlets, and social networks."

A petition has been created on behalf of Rocky.

Rest in peace Rocky.

Please note the San Bernardino Police Department oversees the city’s animal control division:

Chief of Police Robert Handy — handy_ro@sbcity.org
Captain Raymond King — king_ra@sbcity.org
Sergeant Adam Affrunti, (909) 693-6339 (cell) — affrunti_ad@sbcity.org
Shelter Operations Manager Debi Shuker, 909-384-1304 ext 1515 — Shuker_De@sbcity.org
Kennel Supervisor Ryan Long, (951) 538-6010 — Long_Ry@sbcity.org

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