I was shocked to learn this week that Navajo County animal-control officers shot and killed more than 50 dogs. In an article published in the ARIZONA REPUBLIC titled “Shooting of 50 dogs by county criticized” reporters Glen Creno and Alex Dalenberg stated the officers felt it would be too difficult and dangerous to catch the dogs. So they just shot them instead. To further defend their actions, the county stated the dogs would have died in their transport vehicles anyway, because they are not air-conditioned. Dr. Wade Kartchner who oversees the department voiced his support for the shooting. He is quoted in the article as saying “We do feel like the decision made in the field was the right one to prevent suffering for the animals.” Really Doctor.
Generally, I am a strong supporter of law enforcement (See my post on Scottsdale’s Crisis Response Canine Fozzie). Yet this case is so egregious, I must speak out against the actions of these officers and Dr. Kartchner. The Humane Society of the White Mountains has the resources in place to safely deal with large numbers of animals. The Executive Director of the Society, Anna-Marie Rea stated in the article that “her agency would have dispatched a euthanasia technician, food, water and kennels to the site. She also said the Humane Society has enough vehicles and volunteers with trucks and trailers to transport large amounts of animals safely.” If necessary, they can also safely and humanely euthanize animals on the spot. There was no reason for the Navajo County animal-control officers to shoot all the dogs. . . every last one of them.
Through the years, I have worked with a number of talented animal-control officers who dedicate their lives to help people and animals. These officers respect the animals and work with them in a professional manner. They would never kill 50 dogs with a gun. In fact, they often adopt strays to save them from euthanasia! I remember one officer who adopted hard luck cases including a dog with three legs and a cat missing an eye and ear. I doubt he would defend the actions of his peers in Navajo County. Nor would they likely have the support of Maricopa County Sheriff’s Deputies who arrested people for cock-fighting in Arizona in the same week.
Due to their actions and lack of remorse, I believe the officers involved should be relieved of duty (and of firearms!). It is clear to me that they do not treat animals with respect. In addition, Dr. Kartchner should be replaced. I find any person who would defend shooting 50 dogs without an evaluation from a veterinarian not qualified to oversee an animal control agency. The position of director should be filled with an ethical individual who will set that standard for Navajo County. This includes having air-conditioned transport vehicles and veterinary consultation prior to slaughtering animals . . . and then hopefully, there will not be any more slaughters of dogs in Arizona.