The owners of a dog killed in a “savage” attack in a local authority-operated dog shelter have demanded an investigation into the incident.
Jack, a two-year-old Jack Russell terrier, owned by the Rice family in Mullingar, went missing last Friday. The family later discovered the dog pictured on the Facebook page of Mullingar Dog Shelter, which is operated by Westmeath County Council.
Delighted that their dog had been found safe and well, early Saturday morning the family contacted a woman they believed worked at the shelter.
They also left a comment on the Facebook page confirming the dog was theirs.
Mary Ellen Rice also sent a private message to the Mullingar Dog Shelter to tell them Jack belonged to her family and that she was trying to collect him.
She was told theshelter was not open at the weekends and only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between 10am and 12pm and to leave it with them and send a phone number.
By 10.45am on Saturday, the woman made contact with the family and said that she would release the dog to them that evening when she went back into the shelter.
Before getting the call, Mary Ellen’s mother, Rosemary, also called in person to the shelter on a number of occasions to see if anyone was there to release the dog.
Just before 6pm on Saturday, Rosemary got a call from the woman who contacted them earlier in the day and was told the dog was dead. The family claim they were informed by the woman that their terrier was kept in a small enclosure with three other dogs — another Jack Russell type and two Labrador crosses.
The dogs had reportedly been let out together in the morning and nobody was in the shelter again until the woman came to collect Jack for the family just before 6pm. The dog had been attacked and killed by the other dogs in this period.
Mary Ellen told the Irish Examiner her family was “devastated”.
“They wouldn’t let us pick him up until this morning. We were told he had one puncture wound to his chest and that it was rough play that got out of hand but when we saw him this morning, it was pretty clear he was savaged. We want this investigated,” she said.
Yesterday, the shelter posted a statement concerning the issue on its Facebook page. The shelter said Westmeath County Council had asked it publish the statement, in which the local authority expressed “regret” at what had happened but said that “all recognised standards of care were maintained at all times”.
The statement read: “Westmeath County Council regret that this incident occurred and would like to make the following clarifications.
“The dog was handed into the pound on Friday and had no identification on him.
“t is standard practice that all dogs are monitored prior to mixing with other dogs in the Pound and this was done in this case also.
“The dog was content in the company of the other dogs on Friday afternoon, Friday evening and Saturday morning.
“The owner contacted the community warden on Saturday to retrieve her dog as the Pound is closed on Saturdays.
“The community warden agreed to facilitate the owner and had made arrangements to deliver the dog back to its owners on Saturday afternoon however this unfortunate incident happened in the meantime.
“While this incident is regrettable, all recognised standards of care were maintained at all times.”
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