The death of a “hero” dog named Target last month drew a lot of public attention, ranging from head-shaking to anger.
Target, who was one of several dogs who foiled a suicide bomber’s attack on an American military barracks in Afghanistan, was enjoying a peaceful life in Arizona with the family of an Army medic who had adopted her. But she escaped from the family’s yard on a Friday and was dead by Monday morning, reportedly euthanized by mistake by an employee at the animal shelter where she had been taken. The employee picked the wrong dog to be put to sleep—it was a mistake, a spokesperson for the facility reportedly said. Although Target was not wearing a license, her owner reportedly saw her photo online Friday and paid the recovery fee electronically, thinking that the facility was closed for the weekend.
Given the widespread outrage following the national media coverage of the incident, this seems like an opportune time to remind dog owners to make sure their pets wear a license tag and, even better, a microchip to aid in their being reunited following an unwanted separation.
Here’s what happens when stray dogs are found in our area and taken to the local pound in New Milford.
If an animal is wearing a license, the dog owner will be contacted, according to Brett Brissett, an assistant to the animal control officer. If not, an advertisement will appear for a day in the area daily newspaper (The News-Times) with a description of the animal and where it was found. If no one comes to claim it after seven days, it will likely go to the Animal Welfare Society, a no-kill organization that serves the towns of Bridgewater, Brookfield, New Milford, Roxbury and Washington.
Only under some particular circumstances, such as “quarantine” or a “dire emergency,” for example, are cats are taken in at the pound, she said.
An animal is “generally not” put down after being taken to the pound, unless it is “very aggressive” and “cannot be trained out of it,” she said.
The local pound does not do adoptions, but Animal Welfare remains committed to aid the homeless dogs and cats—through adoptions, foster care and even a continuing home under its own roof for those that cannot be placed.
In its November newsletter, Animal Welfare noted that for the first time in its history it had more than 100 cats, after 52 were found overrunning a home in the area. And 14 Shar Pei dogs came in from another residence. Swelling numbers indeed.
The staff and volunteers at Animal Welfare do everything they can to address both the ordinary and extraordinary challenges that present themselves. They can’t do it, however, without the help of the communities the organization serves.
“It costs us more than $25,000 a month to run this shelter,” said Tracy Miltner, the organization’s president, in the newsletter. That care includes veterinary attention as well as the ordinary supplies needed for anyone’s pet.
There are many ways to help: from donations of money and supplies to a workplace matching donation program to a trust established through estate planning. Volunteers are always welcome, too. In addition, the annual membership fee is modest, just $20.
To find out more about Animal Welfare Society, visit online at www.aws-shelter.org or call 860-354-1350.