New York City Family Devastated After Shelter Euthanized Their Dog Just Hours After it Was Lost

A New York City family is heartbroken after an animal shelter in Brooklyn killed their lost, senior dog just hours after a good Samaritan brought it. The 19-year-old dog named Leona deserved a chance to live out her life, said the devastated owners.

Leona the dog

On March 12, Leona somehow slipped out of her owners' home in Briarwood, Queens at 9 a.m. Leona's 24-year-old owner, Ericka Leon, told the New York Post that this is not the first time of the dog slipping out of the house. She said Leona had done this several times in the past but "always comes back or a good Samaritan always brings her back."

However, by 1 p.m., Leona had not returned home and her owners became increasingly worried. Leon said her adorable dog, who was not microchipped, wasn’t wearing a collar when she ran out of the house because she had gotten a bath the day prior. Microchips help animal shelters in locating lost pets' rightful owners more quickly.

Leon began searching for her missing dog by posting a photo of her missing on social media. It wasn't long before someone responded with a post featuring a picture of Leona renamed Ellis by the Animal Care Center of Brooklyn. The shelter said the dog was found by someone in the middle of a busy road not far from Smedley Street, just a block away from her owners' home.

Leon said she tried to reach out to the Animal Care Center but no one would answer. So she patiently waited for them to call back, knowing that her missing was with them. At around 2:30 P.M., Leon and her younger brother Juan were relieved after a worker from the Brooklyn ACC called to tell them that their dog was found. For a moment, the family was super excited thinking their best friend was alive. Sadly, their world was turned upside down half an hour later when the shelter slowly told them that they took it upon themselves to get Leona checked out by a vet and decided to euthanize her.

Juan Leon (Left) and Erika Leon (Right) as kids cuddling Leona as a puppy

Leon tells the Post she is offended because at first, the shelter made it seem like her dog was alive and well when they called around 2:30 P.M. However, records later showed that Leona was euthanized at 1:10 P.M., which makes Leona's owners feel like their emotions were played with.

The family said the shelter has refused to explain the time discrepancy to them. The shelter said after examining the dog, their vet determined she suffering from progressive neurologic symptoms and needed to be put down. Katie Hansen, a spokeswoman for the shelter, told the Post that Leona was seen spinning in circles and was wobbly when walking.

The decision to put Leona down goes against the shelter's standard procedure, which is to give pet owners a three-day time to reclaim their lost pets who end up in their shelter, according to their website. Moreover, according to Animallaw, both public and private shelters in the state of New York must keep a found animal for 5 days before adopting or euthanizing it. 

The family said their dog was just showing signs of old age by spinning in circles. But to the shelter, that was suffering and "they decided on their own to kill my dog within only an hour or two," Leon said in tears.

Furthermore, the family said they knew all about their dog's health conditions but couldn’t treat them because years ago, they were told by a vet that Leona wouldn't survive treatment, and were advised to simply let the animal live her life until she gave out.

The Leon family was handed the lifeless body of their beloved pet wrapped in a cardboard container along with a condolence card, which brought them more trauma.

Juan Leon and his elder sister Erika Leon pick up their dead dog

Protest for a dog killed by a shelter in NYC


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