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Arizona county shoots jailed man’s 50 dogs

Animal rights groups are criticizing the decision by animal control officers in Navajo County, Arizona to shoot and kill more than 50 dogs owned by a man who was serving a month in jail and couldn’t take care of them.

According to the Arizona Republic, the woman who heads the shelter where the county usually takes stray dogs said the agency could have handled the dogs if someone had called.

“Shooting is not a humane way to end an animal’s suffering,” said Anna-Marie Rea, executive director of the Humane Society of the White Mountains in Lakeside.

“We do feel like the decision made in the field was the right one to prevent suffering for the animals,” said Dr. Wade Kartchner, director of the county’s health department.

The dogs were owned by Edward Harvey, who lives outside of Heber and regularly took in stray dogs. He said he had been jailed for about a month on a gun violation in early May because he couldn’t make bail. He returned home to find some of the dogs’ bodies still on his property.

“That’s more punishment than I deserve,” Edward Harvey. “No one needs to be treated that way, especially animals.”

While the county contracts with the Humane Society of the White Mountains for shelter services, county officials said the dogs were aggressive, would have been difficult to round up and would likely have died in the county animal-pickup vans, which aren’t air-conditioned.

Rea said the humane society could have dispatched a euthanasia technician, food, water and kennels to the site, or have transported the animals to shelter.

The agency has fielded at least 30 phone calls from upset residents who read about the shooting in a local newspaper.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) also are criticizing the shooting.

“Animal-control departments and the Humane Society around the country have dealt with situations where a large number of animals that need to be contained and humanely dealt with without resorting to shooting the animals,” said Betsy McFarland, senior director for companion animals at the Humane Society of the United States.

PETA has aksed for an investigation into the shooting.

Whether you think the measure of a civilization is how it treats its prisoners, or how it treats its dogs, it’s clear Navajo County doesn’t measure up too well on either count.


Comment from Bonnie
Time October 16, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Two years after this debacle, Navajo County’s new system of animal control still fails to measure up. Last week, our veteran K9, Gino, was executed by animal control without having his micro chip scanned for ownership. See my blog for the story.