Owner heartbroken after shelter euthanizes her dog one hour after she surrendered pet

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In Petersburg, Virginia, a dog owner who fell on hard times thought that surrendering her dog to the Petersburg Animal Shelter was the right thing to do – hoping the pit bull mix she loved and cared for the last five years, would be able to find a new home and have a better life. So on Monday, Vanessa Thomas brought her beloved dog Patty to the shelter.

According to WricNews, Vanessa was told by the shelter they would try to find a new home for Patty, find a rescue agency to take it or as a last resort euthanizing the dog was a possibility. On Tuesday, Vanessa had second thoughts and wanted her dog back. She waited until the shelter opened at 12:00 and there she was – but Patty was already gone!

“When I got there, she told me she had euthanized my dog,” Vanessa stated.

Deborah Broughton, the Warden at the Petersburg Animal Shelter, told Wric News the dog came at her leg shortly after Vanessa left – the dog was stressed and Broughton made the decision to euthanize the dog within the hour. Vanessa, however disagrees and stated Patty had recently been to the veterinarian and that the dog was never listed as aggressive. Although vet records did have a “caution” sticker on her chart, that is not necessarily out of the ordinary and by no means meant the dog was aggressive stated the vet’s office.

What Broughton did was indeed very tragic, but perfectly legal. When Vanessa signed the dog over to the shelter, she acknowledged euthanasia was possible and gave up ownership of her dog. Broughton stated it was a tough decision, but she had followed protocol and if the same situation occurred again, she would stick by her decision.

Patty was the loser; Patty was the victim. Vanessa thought she was doing the right thing for her dog, and when she decided she wanted Patty back just hours later, and would do whatever she needed to keep her dog, it was too late. What do you think? Should there be a 24-hour waiting period before a shelter can euthanize a pet once they are surrendered? Rest in peace Patty.

(Photo of shelter euthanizes dog one hour later via WricNews)

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60 replies
    • Linda Novak says:

      I agree. But, I’d go as far as to allow a mandatory 72 hour hold before the decision for euthanasia can be given.
      I know what it’s like to be on hard times. I turned my dog in to the shelter 1 time under pressure of my landlord. I brought her in. And I called everyday. Asking if she had any takers. No body looked at her,
      they changed her name so when they listed her online, I couldn’t find her because they didn’t post a picture.
      I was lucky because on the 5th day they were going to euthanize her, I went back to buy her back. I’d NEVER do that again. I dealt with the landlord & then I moved! She passed away when she was 16 y.o.
      I feel terrible for this poor woman & Patty. If I know someone who needs help with their pets, I’ll do what I can to help so this option won’t be considered.

      • ellen cottone says:

        Linda N.
        you and your dog have been to hell and back. It must have been the worst 5- days of both your lives.
        You went behind enemy lines and somehow ,
        even though they tried to decive you with a name change you prevailed. Your dog had enemys at this shelter they were going to euthanise your dog. somehow you were flooded with overwhelming immagery and you could hear your dog crying for you. And you were moved to go to her. You and your dog had 1- friend at the shelter. that person secreatly aided you and your dog.
        When you and your dog got home you must have held each other and cried for hours. because you both came that close.You did real good linda.

  1. Torie says:

    This is outrageous! All avenues should be explored and euthanasia should be the last resort! RIP sweet girl ????????

  2. Barkley's Mom says:

    In a perfect world, no dog that is surrendered to a shelter should be euthanized unless ill and cannot be saved!.Not giving a dog a chance to adjust (even if she did lunge at the “Warden”) isn’t helping an animal in need and that the Petersburg Animal Shelter has a “Warden” makes it sound like this is more of a pet prison than a shelter wanting to help pets anyway.. Vanessa Thomas learned a very hard lesson, one that she won’t soon forget. Make sure you are doing the right thing before you leave your pet at one of these so called “shelters”. If you love your pet make sure you have exhausted every other avenue before you let them go. As she found out, when she changed her mind it was too late! Not the first time I have read a story like this and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Rest in peace Patty.

  3. Mary Ann Clark says:

    I think the Petersburg Animal Shelter needs to be investigated by an independent animal rights group!

  4. Angela Cone-Corso says:

    Absolutely there should be a 24-hour hold on an animal. This should be mandatory at all facilities. I hope there is remorse by the shelter that put Patty down. RIP Patty. I’m sure your owner will never get over this unfortunate and sad situation.

  5. Linda Patton says:

    That’s horrible! That person at the shelter just wanted to murder Patty. She didn’t wait even 24 hours!!! She needs to loose her position, that was totally uncalled for. I’d be irate!!! Her baby can never be replaced… Rest peacefully sweet Patty, run through the lush grasses across the bridge… your loved and forever missed!

  6. Francene Kilichowski says:

    Yes, 24 hour nationwide hold on owner surrendered pets would be reasonable.
    This woman, and others like her, piss me off.
    The best solution you come up with is to bring your pet to a KILL Shelter? There are other options everywhere if you put the effort into it.
    RIP sweet doggie.

  7. ellen cottone says:

    Owner pretends “heartbroken” after knowlingly leaving her “classified as caution” “Pit bull in the hands of a high kill shelter. She the owner walks away leaving a frightend 5 years pet in the grips of an over whelmed shelter knowing that pit bulls are routinly killed just for being pit bulls.
    Owner Fell on hard times!? No,
    it was Patty who fell on hard times.

    • linda says:

      I know for most shelters there’s a 3 day holding period when owner surrendered. All we know from the article is the dog “came at her leg” does not state if the warden was bitten. It’s a tough call “Patty”could have been scared and stressed, rightly so. This dog should have been given additional time. Ellen I wonder if this vet automatically put a “caution” sticker because Patty was a pit bull mix. You’re right Patty was the one who fell on hard times.

    • Susan says:

      As far as I know, at least here in Texas, there is very often no waiting period for euthanasia of owner turn-ins at shelters – and that’s why they tell the people dumping their dogs this. The owner knew this was a possibility and she still left her. This is all on her – not the shelter. And as far as the vet’s caution sticker, we place those on the dogs charts when there has been an incident of some sort. I’m sure there is more to that sticker than the story indicates. Poor Patty – she paid the price. This whole story sucks.

  8. Debbie Dearmore says:

    That sorry bitch I hope and pray that she gets her just reward. I can’t believe that happened. I thought they had to wait like 5 days before killing any kind of dog or cat or any other animal. She is one sorry excuse for a human. I hope her luck runs out soon. Bitch. Damn that pisses me off.

  9. Carrie Ainsley says:

    Pit bulls who never bit anyone and never would get put to sleep every day in the shelter system, I think maybe 1 in 10 will actually be adopted. Try facebook, rescueme dot org, no-kill shelters, post flyers in vet offices or dog parks, think outside the box! Just don’t take your pit bull to a kill shelter and expect a happy ending. Surrenders are often euthanized first, even when there isn’t aggression involved.

  10. DENISE says:

    yes there should be a 24 hour wait we are human and do think things over so this was not fair either way!!! Do not like or trust shelters at al!!!!!!! To easy on getting rid of these poor animals!!!!

  11. Tim Brady says:

    do these assholes who run these shelters know what shelter meens,Im pretty sure it don’t mean kill someones pet after 2 hrs,the asshole who runs this place should lose job and someone should also knock her fucking teeth for good measure

  12. Star Shelley (@shelleystar2) says:

    Now that is not right what this shelter did to this pup. Euthanized within an hour, that is not acceptable by this Ms. Deborah Broughton. Owners have the right to change their minds. Happens all the time in our Shelter and we are glad the owner takes them back. So this warden bitch had a quota to reach in how many animals had to be kill that day
    Yes a law should pass 24 days is good as a waiting period., where an owner can changed their mind. SorryVanessa for your loss.

  13. maxiemom says:

    YES, there needs to be a 24 hour waiting period before they can kill a pet! People often regret their decisions, especially one as momentous as this, and this is life or death. That GD shelter employee should KNOW better: Patty was STRESSED and reacted accordingly. Any dog is capable of doing what she did, and frankly, I am not convinced she ‘came’ at her, but I do think, because Patty was a pit mix, that she jumped on the bitch and the POS decided to kill her.

  14. Sherry says:

    One hour is not enough time to decide euthanasia is the best option. They didn’t even try to let her settle in and then be evaluated. They didn’t try to find her a home; they just got rid of her. Similar thing happened to me when I rescued three dogs and brought them to the Lacombe La humane society. They told me they would try to find them homes after they tested them and got them fixed up. I called a couple days later, I was going to take one of the dogs. They said he was gone and I thought they meant adopted but they said no, he’s gone. Gone where? I said. I was shocked. She finally said they euthanized all three dogs. They didn’t want to tell me but I insisted on getting the information since I was the one that turned them in. I feel horrible about it to this day. Those dogs had no chance. Some shelters just plan to kill them rather than actually try to place them in homes. The people act like dogs are an aggravation. Well, they should find other jobs and not work with animals. Disgusting.

  15. Marissa says:

    The shelter should have called the owner before they put Patty down. A 2 minute phone call is not asking to much. And if Vanessa had any kind of a heart for animals she would have done so ! Sorry I side with the owner that was just heartless. And I think it was Vanessa’s intentions from the start and I do not believe that Patty went after her leg she’s a liar !

  16. Angelyn Reno says:

    The state of Virginia is notorious for doing stupid shit like that.. about 10 years ago in Roanoke…This family brought the puppies in and when the woman got to the part about euthinaisia .. she changed her mind…But it was too late.. SHE HADN’T EVEN FINISHED FILLING OUT THE PAPERS BEFORE THEY KILLED THEM…The family was devastated.. The CEO of the SPCA was embezzling money and got caught…They found him dead from an apparent suicide…

  17. pennysdachshund says:

    ONE WHOLE HOUR!!! SHURLY THEY COULD HAVE GOTTEN IT DONE SOONER!( PUN INTENDED) This is total BULLSHIT and anyone with a functioning BRAIN should know that . SAD thing is NOTHING is going to BRING PATY BACK>>> Her owner made the choice and Hell IT IS too damn LATE!!! This was a conscious choice she AND ONLY SHE made …. no one forced her. They need to make changes at that So Called Shelter for sure… MYSELF I THINK the Director: D. Broughton OOK an INSTANT dislike for PATTY also had the God Complex AND TOOK PATTY”S LIFE because she HAS THE POSWER TO DO JUST THAT! there needs to be a board of director’s investigation of this issue!! to keep it from happening AGAIN!!!

    • ellen cottone says:

      I got your well timed pun. I tried not to but you made me laugh. Even though its not funny its true.
      I also agree With the treachery of the funeral director. The shelter director probley gets a prize for killing pit bulls
      And maybe even lied about the bite.
      They will give time and free medical attention to a stray but a surrendered pet they can kill that day if they brought in the kill techs. Thats the reality every one should know

  18. carolynaallen says:

    There should be a sufficient waiting period for owner surrenders for this very reason so owners who have a change of heart can reclaim their dogs. Shelters are way to quick to euthanize precious animals anyway. All shelters in my opinion should be no-kill. I don’t believe in euthanizing any animal unless they are so aggressive or so sick that they are beyond help.

  19. Debbie hawley says:

    That is what kill shelter do they don’t care about the animals they just want to make there quota for the day

  20. Kathleen Drude says:

    This is a loathsome act! There was no reason for this dog to have been put down! If it had been any other kind the outcome would have been different! This poor dog died because it was a pitbull and that’s it! Shelters have got to stop! Because it’s a pitbull should not have anything to do with a dog being put down!

  21. Pauline says:

    Personally I think there needs too be laws requiring them to give the animals 6 weeks or longer to find a good home these poor defenseless animals need our help people.

    • Pauline says:

      I think we need to try to stop this kind of things from happening try to get laws changed and have owner surrendered and strays get a chance to find a home or get reunited with their families some strays are runaways and lost dogs they need our help I think 6 weeks or longer. They act like a slaughterhouse not a shelter now in these places

  22. Bunny Peters says:

    Totally heartbreaking situation. Poor furbaby.

    I am not sure about a mandatory 24 hour hold for all owner surrenders. I see both “sides”: it might save lives (as in this situation) but it could also cost lives (as in more animals euthanized to ensure adequate spaces for other animals on “hold”)…….

    I feel horrible for both Vanessa & Patty…… I (but for the grace from Angels looking out for me & my family) have not been in this situation.

    If this was my situation, I might have first tried to rehome with family, friends or coworkers (even for a short time) before going to the “kill” shelter. Or tried to locate a “non-kill” shelter or rescue before going to the “kill” shelter…… but every area is different. Not all areas have “non-kill” alternatives……

    Just a horrible, sad situation all around……

  23. Linda Staffulani says:

    There is to be a 3 day hold on dogs. And the woman who kill the dog know that. Shelter is to help find dogs and cats home . Not to kill thrm. I hope the Lady will go to the papers on this . Let people know that they kill dog right when you bring them in. That is shelter is slaughterhouse .

  24. zoulou says:

    Horrible I would died of pain if I got to be separated of my pets.oh.my god killing discussing people u not any better then China over this country..they eat dogs but u kill for nothing.shame on u .

  25. ellen cottone says:

    A shelter doesent have to follow anyrules. a shelter will put down surrendered pets first. every one including the owner knows there is a breed spacific gun down on so called dog enemy #! Pit bulls. she allowed a vet record to have the words “caution”, a death sentance and then with in a short time of signing the dog over to a kill shelter she attacts the shelter director.
    Death Sentance with out owner or avocate. Tried, convicked,sentanced and executation all while ass whole sits and has a sandwich an watches tv in her trailer.Then ass whole who has not fallen an any harder time then any day before. feels her pain fear torcher and horrific death gassed in a steel box looking out a small gass chamber window at techs who have to watch the process as she begs and pleads for her life. all the time thinking …. mommy im sorry for what i did im sorry for eating your favorite show when you left me alone for so long alone.please come back, please come back please come back…. ill be a good girl….

  26. Solveig Pettersson says:

    So sorry ???????? wy they dont waith 24 h !!!! Its so cruel and horribel things ro do ???????? sorry for both of you ???????????????????? (hate shelters how murder dogs an any animals)) they should SAVE THEM ????????????????????????????????????????

  27. Krystine says:

    There should be laws put into place that a shelter cannot euthanize an animal for 2 weeks after it is surrendered. If a animal becomes supposedly “aggressive,” the shelter must contact prior owner and notify them that the dog will be euthanized unless they want to claim the dog back. All shelters should have to be required to have cameras in all areas of their facility to support their claims of an animal being aggressive. Animals are always the losers when they become homeless. Maybe if we started to euthanize unwanted children, people would see things differently. Every living thing should be treated equally regardless if whether they areally human or animal.

  28. David Mckenzie says:

    I have stated time and time again . these so called shelters are that in name only , they are places of destruction of animals and what has happened is proof ,of what I say . this warden should be removed from that position and be charged with wanton abuse of the dog by having it killed , and the so called shelter fully investigated . over its killing regime , and poor Patty was just one of the many killed to reach a Quota for the day . they should at least have contacted Patty’s owner and told her what was intended , but then the cowards hide behind the blood soaked paperwork that most owners do’nt understand , Rest In Peace Patty sleep safe in the arms of angels , , I hope that warden rots in hell for eternity , God Bless you Patty

  29. MaryGrace says:

    In my opinion they should never euthanize an animal unless it’s suffering. They have every right to live, so what we start euthanizing humans agents we overpopulated.

  30. Susan says:

    Listing the woman in charge of the shelter as the “Warden” sounds about right. She probably looks at these dogs as prisoners if she could be so heartless as to put a dog down within an hour of it being surrendered. She does not need to be in charge of a shelter looking out for the well being of dogs. Yes, at least a 24 hr hold. That’s ridiculous.

  31. an-opinioniatedwoman says:

    Before taking a pup to a shelter, also check out local rescue groups. Most have a surrender policy and will take the pup, and it won’t be in danger of being euthanized. This was heart-breaking for the lady, but when you sign the pup over, that’s it. You’ve lost control.

  32. Donna Hawkins says:

    Yes there should be a hold law ! Some states there are. This wardens of these ” shelters ” get on a power trip and kill randomly ! I’ve heard stories like this for years! You can’t access a frighten stressed animal in an hour !

  33. Nancy Raymond says:

    No Kill Shelter will hold any dog that even slightly resembles a pit bull for any amount of time – they kill them in a heartbeat. These poor dogs are treated like serial killers – ANY animal upon entering ANY shelter is stressed, confused and scared and yet these so called ‘shelters’ pretend that these animals are unadoptable – which is total bullshit and nothing more than a piss poor excuse to euthanize them and that is the bottom line – Deborah Broughton’s title is surely appropriate “Warden” and she sure acted as one – death row to all dogs who are stressed – who put this idiot in charge?

  34. Sherry says:

    I think that there should be a “24 hour” change of heart incase the owner comes back. The only time there should not if the animal
    comes in with a medical condition that would make it inhuman not to put the animal down.

  35. Mandy Martin says:

    I believe there should be a week hold time. I had something similar happen. We had to move and I had a black and white lab great Dane mix and we couldn’t take him with us. He was in perfect health. I had to take him to a shelter because we hadn’t found him a home yet. I let the shelter know we still had ads out to find him a home. They said that was fine that they hold animals for three days anyway before they go out to be adopted. The next day I was contacted by a woman who wanted to give him a good home. We were to meet at the shelter. So I called the shelter to let them know I was bringing in a possible adopter for him. They told me they euthanized him that morning. He was a friendly dog. He never attempted to bite anyone and they refused to tell me why he was euthanized. They didn’t even have time to have him checked out by a vet. By their own policy….all animals that come in are on a three day hold/quarantine. I will never take an animal to Cass county animal shelter in Michigan again.


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