This is the story of Kalel, a family dog who died before his time at an upstate South Carolina shelter.
Mandi Nalley learned her Siberian Husky went missing from his trainer on July 23 and couldn't be located. Mandi filed a missing dog report with Greenville County Animal Care Services in Greenville after searching on their 'lost and found' page.
Unfortunately, Mandy searched under Siberian Husky, and found it wasn't a breed option at the shelter. GCACS had Kalel listed as an Alaskan Husky mix. This was the first of many errors. Each mistake is detailed below
*Option for breed of dog not found on GCACS lost and found page
*Owner was emailed her dog was alive on July 31, when in reality, he had been killed July 29
*Shelter listed as not neutered, when he was neutered as a puppy
*Shelter claimed dog aggressive when he was most likely terrified
*Killed dog on day 3 of 5 day hold
*Friend who went to claim body allegedly told dog still alive at facility
Why would GCACS have a dog listed as a breed that doesn't even have a search option for the owner of a lost dog to use?
The second error was the shelter listed Kalel as not being neutered. He was neutered as a puppy at Greenville County Animal Care Services, and received all of his shots there. Unfortunately, he wasn't microchipped.
Mandi received an email on at 7:27 a.m. on July 31 from Nancy Goike, head of lost and found at GCACS, stating she had a dog she felt was Kalel, and for Mandi to bring a leash, proof of ownership and $85 to reclaim him.
Mandi, along with Kalel's trainer, arrived at noon when the shelter opened. Sadly, they were told at this time Kalel was euthanized on July 29 for 'aggression and health issues.'
On July 24, Kalel had been turn in to GCACS by animal control. On July 29, he was killed. It's quite possible the shelter broke the law in doing this. They'll likely get away with it, as aggression is a very widely used excuse to give shelters the option to kill.
Kalel had been to his vet two weeks prior to the shelter killing him. He had heartworms, and a limp caused by arthritis. Both were being treated. Kalel had just been groomed, at which time a staple had been removed from his back. It should have been easy to see this dog was cared for and loved.
Mandi left the shelter distraught and placed a call to her best friend, Madelyn Parlier. Madelyn immediately headed to the high-kill shelter to claim the body, and allegedly was told Kalel was still alive and in holding.
After a five minute wait, Madelyn was sent to Shelly Simmons, director of GCACS, to address the issue. Shelly explained that the system they use takes a few days to update, so it wasn't showing Kalel as having been killed.
Kalel's release date, according to what the shelter believes is state law, was July 29. He was killed on that date. He was never on any 'list,' and never given a chance for adoption or rescued because he was labeled as aggressive.
Who determined aggression? Was that person trained, or was it one of the inmates working at the shelter to get time off for good behavior?
Madelyn describes the conversation she had with Shelly
"She said his release date was the 29th and they euthanized him that day. I asked why she didn't even give him a chance. Why didn't they give him a few more days. Why not give any of the other dogs a few more days. It takes time to go through all the pounds and shelters when you are looking for your pet. She said they had sweeter dogs in the back that could come out plus he had heartworms. I asked how many dogs they are adopting out with heartworms. That's no excuse!!! I then asked for his body and she informed me they had already disposed of it and I told her to show me which dumpster. She looked shocked I would say that but I know that they tie their poor bodies up in bags and toss them out like garbage. We give humans a box why not innocent animals. I asked her about the aggression and health issues and she told me it was not the health issues that made him be euthanized it was the aggression."
Madelyn had to break the bad news to Mandi. There would be no body to lay to rest or be cremated. Kalel had been disposed of like yesterday's garbage. Because of this, Kalel's owner, and those who loved him will never, ever have closure.
This incident shouldn't have happened, because according to state law, Kalel should have had until August 1 before legally being euthanized, adopted or placed with a rescue.
There's a PDF document on South Carolina impound law that can be downloaded by clicking here.
Clarification of South Carolina law 47-3-60B of the South Carolina Code states
"Day One is the day after the animal is impounded. Since the days of animal impoundment are less than seven days, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays are excluded when determining day 5."
This statement is signed by Elinor V. Lister, Assistant Attorney General for South Carolina.
One troubling issue on Kalel's death is that had Nancy not sent out an email saying Kalel was at the shelter, his death would never have become public knowledge. He would have joined the thousands of dogs who go missing each year, their fate never learned.
The shelter does their best to cover themselves. On their Facebook: Greenville County Lost & Found, their number 1 suggestion is to visit the shelter at least every 2-3 days. Of course, that may not have made a difference in Kelel's case, since he was killed on day 3.
"Visit Greenville County Animal Care shelter often! You must come and look!"
Does the shelter not have to go by the five day holding policy on aggressive dogs, or can they be killed sooner? Can anyone answer this? It's apparent the shelter doesn't know the law as to how a five day hold works. If they do, then it isn't evident in Kalel's case.
The most troubling is the suspicion this likely happens more than we realize at the high-kill shelter. The shelter encourages the owner of a lost dog to come in and walk the kennels. There are many more dogs there than ever end up on the urgent list.
This holds true for cats as well. Several escape artist house cats have been located not in the general cat population, but in the feral cat area at GCACS.
Temperament can change for both dogs and cats, causing them to act a bit, well-aggressive. The loud noises of both staff and other animals, coupled with the fear of wondering where your family is and why they haven't come to take you home, has proven deadly.
It's scary to actually think how many animals may die due to a misdiagnosis of aggression. Not only in Greenville, but in shelters across the country. Can growling, snarling or barking earn a lost dog a death sentence? Decide for yourself.
If you've lost a pet in Greenville or Spartanburg, please take the time to go to the shelter every other day, if not every day, and search for your missing pet. To not do this could mean death.
GCACS, if you have any comments you'd like to add, please do so and give your version of why this dog was killed.
Note: This article gives the details as told to me by Mandi and Madelyn, and doesn't reflect any personal opinion on Greenville County Animal Care Services. As a reporter, I report the good, as well as the bad, in hopes we can all learn from our experiences and help the animals in their care.