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'Euthanized without warning:' Baldwin County man says dog was wrongfully put down

Matthew Griffin's dog, Georgia, went missing about three weeks ago. The day he was planning to pick her up, he found out she was euthanized. Baldwin County responds.

BALDWIN COUNTY, Ga. — When Matthew Griffin was scrolling through his Facebook on Sunday night, he saw a familiar face.

"The animal shelter posts random dogs to try to adopt that way they have more space to save more animals. I'm scrolling through it, and there's a picture, there's Georgia plain as day, you can tell by one ear sticking up, one ear down, she's been that way forever," he recalls.

A few Facebook messages later, he was all set up to pick up his puppy from the Baldwin County Animal Shelter on Wednesday afternoon. Before he could make his way out there, he got another notification. "I got a notification on my phone that someone commented. I thought it was just another comment, I go on there and it says 'euthanized without warning to make space for other dogs.'"

He immediately posted on his Facebook what happened, and received hundreds of notifications afterwards.

"Some were condolences for your loss, and then some others saying, 'This has happened before.' Some said they've contacted the county manager before and nothing really seems to happen," he says.

The county manager he is referring to is Carlos Tobar, who says the animal shelter followed the proper protocol.

He says, "Baldwin County Animal Control will hold onto a dog or cat for five business days. At that point, that animal becomes available for adoption."

Tobar goes on to say that euthanization is necessary to make room for more stray dogs in the shelter that currently holds 16 dogs and 10 cats.

"Basically, the animals that have been here the longest, generally they are the ones that get euthanized first," he says. Being there for about three weeks unclaimed, Georgia fit that description.

The Baldwin County ordinance confirms that. Section 14-39, in full says, "If a dog or cat is not claimed by the owner within five weekdays of notice to the owner, or if a dog or cat whose owner is not known has not been adopted after five weekdays of being impounded, then the animal control unit may dispose of the animal in the manner prescribed by state law at the time of disposition. The animal control officer may, in his sole discretion, extend the time for which an animal is retained at the shelter. Disposition is not mandatory. Animal control officers shall not perform euthanasia unless they are properly certified by the state to do so. Animals shall be euthanized only in the manner prescribed by state law and regulations."

This includes euthanization as fit by the animal control officer.

Tobar adds that the county is planning to move the animal shelter to a bigger location later this year. He hopes it will be open by the summer.

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