Veterans claim support animal was wrongfully euthanized at Henry Company shelter

Henry County, Ga. (CBS46) — A veteran claims his assisted animal was euthanized at a Henry County shelter while he was on vacation.

For Leon Washington, Rocko, his two-year-old dog, was more than a pet. That was family. The American Bully breed was also a support animal for Washington, who lives with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from his time in the US Marine Corps.

“It’s been a really tough guy, like, real tough,” Washington said. “They comfort me. Humans show love in one way. Dogs show love in another way, and killing a dog because of its breed is unnecessary.”

Washington said Rocko had fled his Ellenwood home the day before the family left for Hawaii. When they landed on June 7, Washington received a notification from the company that microchipped Rocko, saying that someone had left the dog at the Henry County Animal Shelter.

Washington said she called the shelter and a staff member told her that Rocko could stay at the shelter until he returned from vacation. However, the daily fee will be $5.

“I said, ‘Are you sure he’ll be fine until I get back,'” Washington recalled. “she said yes.’ I said, ‘Are you sure he’ll be all right by the time I come back?’ He said, ‘Yeah, just make sure you come in when you come back.'”

When Washington went to pick up Rocko last Wednesday, he learned the shelter had euthanized the dog the day before. Washington said staff told them that except for Sundays and county holidays, “some” unclaimed breeds are placed in shelters after four days.

“The only thing they can tell me is, ‘I’m sorry,'” Washington said. “Don’t bring that back. He was my friend. ,

Henry County Animal Care and Control is a division of the Henry County Police Department. In an email to CBS46, a spokesperson confirmed that a civilian turned Rocko into the shelter on June 7. The spokesman said several attempts were made to contact Washington but to no avail.

“On 6/14/2022, Henry County Animal Care and Control’s policies/procedures were followed, resulting in the dog being euthanized,” he said.

Henry County has an ordinance that states that if an animal is not retrieved by its owner in four days, it is released to animal control and may “Immediately adopted, destroyed or otherwise disposed of.”

“It’s not cool to kill these dogs like that guy,” Washington said. “It’s not good at all. There must be some other way. There must be some other way.”

Washington said he did not receive many calls from the shelter. He cautioned animal lovers that they may encounter a stray dog, to make sure the shelter they are dropping the animal into is a no-kill shelter. He said that if he had known that Rocko was in danger of euthanasia, he would have done everything in his power so that someone could retrieve him.

“Try to find a humane society, no-kill shelter or something to take those animals because in Henry County, if you take them to their shelter and no one claims them within their time frame , so they’re going to kill them,” said Washington.