Family's devastation after dog put down unknowingly

A DEVASTATED Lavington couple is demanding answers from Albury Council after their pet dog was put down without their knowledge.

Codie Black and Jess Hingston had been waiting almost a fortnight to get their dog, a 15-month-old American Staffordshire-cross named CJ, out of the council-run pound.

Council rangers picked up the dog after it had escaped and declared it to be a pit-bull, not a staffy.

The couple had asked for an independent breed assessment, which was due to happen on Monday.

But instead of a reunion this week, the couple was yesterday shocked to learn CJ was euthanased on Friday due to a staff “miscommunication”.

“It’s just not right, they had no right to put her down,” said Ms Hingston through tears.

“She was such a beautiful dog and I wish I could have her back. I’d have been happy just to see her one more time.”

The dog, which was not microchipped or registered, was picked up by rangers on June 30 after escaping from home while the couple was away for a few days.

Mr Black said he returned home on Wednesday, July 3 and called the pound looking for CJ, but was told there was no dog matching CJ’s description.

When he visited the pound last Monday, July 8 to double-check, he found his dog was on site but had been labelled a pitbull-cross.

Mr Black was told he couldn’t have his dog back as it was a restricted breed, unless it was inspected by a breed assessor and reclassified.

“I said I was happy to pay anything, I was going to get a loan to pay for it all,” he said.

“I just wanted our dog back. We’d had her from a pup, we’d trained her and she was one of the most peaceful dogs ever.”

Mr Black said he bought the dog from a breeder in Nurmurkah who assured him it was an American Staffordshire.

The couple said they last spoke with the pound on Friday and were told someone would be in touch on Monday.

But yesterday, the couple was informed the dog had in fact been put down on Friday, already buried at the neighbouring Albury tip.

Albury Council’s team leader for compliance John Mulvey confirmed the dog had been scheduled to be put down on Friday but pound staff had agreed to hold off until an independent assessment could be carried out.

“Unfortunately this information wasn’t conveyed quickly enough to avoid euthanasia prior to the assessment being carried out,” he said.

Mr Mulvey said the owners did not come to claim the dog until 10 days after it had been impounded.

Under NSW law, a dog becomes property of the pound if not claimed in seven days and unclaimed restricted breed dogs must also be euthanased after seven days.

“Council is confident that an independent assessment would have confirmed the dog’s breed as a pitbull,” Mr Mulvey said.

“Had this been the case, the dog would have been euthanised under NSW legislation.”

He added it was important all dog owners microchip and register their animals so animals could be immediately returned if found roaming.

Mr Black admitted he ought to have had CJ registered and microchipped.

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