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Sunny goes down — because he got too big

Sunny’s first offense was growing.

Being a Rottweiller-mastiff mix, he — as  you’d expect — quickly surpassed the 100-pound mark, well over the weight limit imposed at the Florida apartment complex where his owner, Denise Wilkinson, lived.

She started searching for a new home for him, but, unable to find one by the landlord’s deadline, dropped him off at Pinellas County Animal Services, with plans to pick him back up when she found one.

On its website, the county said dogs are kept seven days there. In person, they told her 48 hours. In reality, they euthanized him before a day had passed.

When Wilkinson, a day after dropping him off, went to pick up her dog, she found out Sunny had been euthanized — within hours of being dropped off.

“He wasn’t sick; he wasn’t old. He still had a long life ahead of him,” Wilkinson told Tampa Bay Online.

Senior Animal Control Officer John Hohenstern said Sunny was aggressive and caused concerns about the safety of shelter workers. “It was determined that because of the aggression in the dog it was not an adoption candidate,” he said. “We couldn’t do anything with the dog.”

Hohenstern  said that, despite the wording on the website, Wilkinson had initialed a paper stating she understood that the surrender was is unconditional: “Pinellas County Animal Services makes no promise, actual or implied, regarding holding time, treatment, adoption or disposition of this animal.” Hohenstern said the document initialed by Wilkinson superseded the website.

The county, Tampa Bay Online reports, has since changed the language on the website.

Hohenstern said with more animals being surrendered, possibly because of the economy, the animal control office encourages people to consider other options before dropping a dog there. “We try to … let them know this is kind of their last resort,” Hohenstern said. “They don’t want to do this.”


Comment from smoketoomuch
Time March 29, 2011 at 9:13 am

And once again a helpless dog pays the ultimate price for human stupidity.
The owner’s because she obviously didn’t think through the possibilities generated by having such a large breed dog in her rented apartment (other people’s property), as well as initialing a paper she either didn’t read or didn’t understand, and the County Animal Services Office for both failing to clearly explain their policy and then acting too quickly to “off” an animal they obviously weren’t prepared to deal with.
Now Sunny is gone and, “Oops”, everybody’s sorry.

Comment from BeckyH
Time March 29, 2011 at 3:31 pm

I agree with smoketoomuch. What was she thinking, that a Rottie/Mastiff puppy would remain little?!

Comment from Kelly
Time March 29, 2011 at 6:01 pm

I hope the next entry is upbeat. The sadness of these stories is overwhelming.

Comment from smoketoomuch
Time March 31, 2011 at 10:07 am

I was once thrown out of an apartment for having a cat (a clear lease violation).
Even though I liked my home, having lived there for more than 5 years, I gladly gave IT up rather than my friend and companion. No other option existed as far as I was concerned. Maybe Ms. Wilkinson should have considered that possibility first, then again, maybe Sunny just wasn’t that important to her.
Houses and apartments are everywhere and forever, individual living souls are unique and fleeting, and are not disposable. At least that’s my take on it. A cat or dog is more than a possession. Their very lives are in our hands, and they deserve to be protected until it’s time for them to go. Anything less is simply unacceptable IMO.