Shelter employee says dog abused with pepper spray in ‘training exercise’

In Cheyenne, Wyoming, a shelter employee contends a shelter dog was abused with pepper spray in what the Cheyenne Animal Shelter director has called a “training exercise.”

According to the Wyoming/Tribune Eagle, shelter volunteer and foster coordinator Marissa Cox had been bitten by an eight-month-old pit bull mix named Tanner. Animal control officers were able to put the dog back into his kennel, and Cox was treated for her injuries.

The following day, the shelter president, Bob Fecht ordered officers to bring Tanner, and another dog meant to agitate Tanner, to the back of the shelter telling all the employees that no one was to video what was to take place.  Fecht ordered Cox to use pepper spray on Tanner once he was agitated. Cox refused, however another officer complied. Tanner was sprayed until he coughed up blood, and then the dog was hosed off with water, brought back to his kennel and euthanized 24 hours later.

Jay Klapel, the community cat program coordinator, sent a detailed email to five shelter board members after gathering information about the troubling incident; calling what happened a “gross abuse of power,” and claiming it was clearly animal abuse.

The shelter released a report written by an animal control officer whose name was redacted. That person described Tanner as “viciously mauling” Marissa – a claim others deny. The report stated that pepper spray is safe and relatively harmless. The “training exercise” was to determine if the spray made the dog more or less aggressive; show the staff how to use pepper spray and build employee confidence when handling violent animals. The report did not mention no one was to video the situation nor was it noted another dog was brought outdoors with Tanner in order to agitate him.

Thus far, Cheyenne Animal Shelter Board President Chloe Illoway has stated the allegations are being investigated, however there has been no proof of animal abuse and Klapel was just a “disgruntled employee.”

As for Tanner, the very active puppy had spent weeks at the Avenues Pet Clinic with no major incidents before coming to the shelter and was not a “vicious dog.”

A Facebook page Justice for Tanner can be followed here. An investigation continues.

(Photos via Justice for Tanner Facebook)

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