Shelter accidentally euthanized dog, worker placed on leave

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BALCH SPRINGS, Texas — A Balch Springs Animal Control worker has been placed on leave after officials say she failed to contact a resident before euthanizing his dog.

Divya, a one-year old healthy Labrador retriever, was put down last month.

Brian McGowan said his pet  managed to escape from the backyard and he spent weeks looking for her.

"I went down to the shelter twice, my girlfriend went down there twice," McGowan said.  "I called several times, left messages to make sure they had my correct phone number."

The Balch Springs Animal Control shelter is where McGowan had adopted the yellow Lab a year ago.

Divya was registered with the shelter, and McGowan says the agency should have had all of his contact information.

Balch Springs Police Chief Ed Morris said an employee tried to call McGowan, but reached a wrong number... and never took it any further.

"It appears that based on human error we didn't go the extra mile and try to contact the owners," Morris said.

Divya was euthanized a week after she was found by the animal control workers.

On that same day, McGowan coincidentally called the shelter and asked if they had found her.  An employee misled him and said that the dog had been found, but was adopted out to another family.

Hours later, he was called again and learned that Divya had been euthanized.

"I felt angry, betrayed... all the phone calls that I made... it wasn't right," McGowan said.

City officials are having trouble explaining the mistake, or why their employee later misled Divya's owner.

"I can only speculate that there's a fear factor, they made a mistake, and trying to protect themselves in the long run," Morris said.

The shelter has offered him another dog at no cost, but the Balch Springs man says that only shows the city continues to not understand the problem.

"A dog is part of the family; it is not just property, and that's the way they're looking at it," McGowan said.