GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - They were hoping their Thursday trip to the Kent County Animal Shelter would reunite them with their lost dog, but it didn't end that way for Elizabeth Kuieck and her family.
"When we got to the animal shelter, the lady came out with tears in her eyes," Kuieck said.
The Grand Rapids woman said she knew something was wrong. Then someone told her that her dog, Izza, had been mistakenly put down.
"They let us go see the dog," Kuieck said. "To see my kids going through that pain -- it felt like I lost one of my children."
A shelter spokesman confirmed to 24 Hour News 8 that the dog was taken to a euthanasia room in error -- and put to sleep.
"It's a very very sad situation," said spokesman Bill Anstey, noting that it has been difficult and emotional for people at the shelter as well.
It appears the mistake was made because procedure was not followed, the spokesman said.
When a dog is taken into the shelter, an officer is supposed to check for a microchip that can identify the owner.
That did happen in this case, Anstey said. But while the officer was working to reach the family, the spokesman said someone else took the dog into the euthanasia room, thinking it was another dog due to be put down.
The dogs were both pit bull-type dogs with the same coloration, Anstey said. And both had pink leashes.
The worker who took the dog to the euthanasia room was supposed to run another microchip scan as a last-step safeguard, the spokesman said. But that didn't happen, he said, and Izza was humanely put to sleep.
Kuieck's fiance, Douglas Fasburg, said it's hard for him to believe the shelter's explanation. It was his neighbors, he said -- not shelter staff -- who told the family their dog was picked up by animal control after Izza escaped the house Thursday.
Fasburg said neither he nor Kuieck received a call after the shelter said it performed that initial microchip scan.
"Whoever initiated the shot -- I want them to be terminated from their job," Fasburg said.
The incident remains under investigation, the shelter spokesman said, and the shelter cannot comment on any potential consequences for personnel.
Fasburg said he is considering suing the shelter.
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