ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Channel 9 has learned a pit bull that was ready to be adopted was accidentally put down at Orange County Animal Services, officials said Wednesday.
The owner of a pit bull named Hershey turned in the 2-year-old dog to OCAS on Aug. 6. Officials said after the dog was at animal services for a week, it received two rescue requests, but ultimately, both parties backed out of the adoption.
The dog was scheduled for euthanasia on Aug. 15, but that afternoon, a third adoption application was filed at animal services. The dog, however, was still put down.
The original owner, Shawntae Rosetta, found out Hershey was accidentally euthanized after watching the news.
"My mom called and she said, 'Hershey was on the news.' I was like, 'Oh did someone adopt him?' and she was like, dead (silent) for a moment," Rosetta said.
Rosetta snapped pictures of Hershey and his sister Roxy when she dropped them off
at Animal Services.
"We were moving and where we were moving to, we couldn't take the dogs with us. I tried on several attempts to literally give him away," Rosetta said.
Rosetta says it was painful for her and her four children to give up the dogs, but said she figured they would go to a good home.
"I'm like really hurt right now," Rosetta said.
"It didn't wind up working out," said Diane Summers, of OCAS. "They rescinded their interest. Then, on Aug. 15, he was placed on the euthanasia list, and then on that day, someone placed an adoption application on him."
Services said its system of checks and balances failed, and the dog was euthanized in error.
"In this situation, one of the steps wasn't closely adhered to," said Summers, but wouldn't specify.
A local rescue group wrote veterinarian Dr. Robert Ridgway an email asking for answers to what went wrong. In return, however, Ridgeway gave no answers and wrote a degrading, insulting email back.
"It was not until I got your email that I realized why I came back to OCAS. Besides being stupid, I wanted to get dumb emails from people like you that make my day," Ridgway said in his email. "Emails like yours are so stimulating it makes hard working people want to butter up to you to make you happy -- believe me they will."
The email didn't end there, though.
"I suggest that you attempt to go to veterinary college and when you graduate, if you can, you come take my job," Ridgway wrote.
Click here to read full email from Dr. Ridgway
Services told Channel 9's Renee Stoll that Ridgway had nothing to do with Hershey being put down. They said disciplinary actions will be taken, but they aren't saying what those actions will be.
Summers called the email inappropriate but tried to explain why Ridgway responded the way he did.
"It's possible he could have viewed that as a personal attack and responded accordingly, not to excuse it, because it's something that we apologized for sincerely," she said.
In a statement on Wednesday, the division manager of Orange County Animal Services, Dil Luther, wrote: "We are terribly sorry for this mistake and our hearts go out to the adopting family. An occurrence such as this is extremely rare. However, it happened and it's an error we do not take lightly."
"We have already reinforced our procedures to ensure this does not happen again. There are currently hundreds of other pets eagerly awaiting a forever home in our shelter, and it is our sincere hope this unfortunate situation will not deter anyone from adopting one of our pets in the future." said Luther.
Officials told Channel 9 the incident is still under investigation.