An investigation is currently underway after an animal control officer in Gisborne accidentally euthanised the wrong dog.
Last Friday, a Labrador/Ridgeback cross dog called Sarge was mistakenly euthanised, due to “human error”.
Sarge’s owners are “beyond devastated” and “still in shock” over what happened.
Gisborne District Council’s Chief Executive Nedine Thatcher Swann told 1News that an animal control officer found Sarge wandering on the road, took Sarge home, but because no one was there, the dog was taken to the pound.
It was at the dog pound where another animal control officer mistakenly put Sarge down.
“There was a dog that was due to be destroyed, but the wrong one was destroyed,” Swann said.
The council’s considering ways to support Sarge’s family, including the option of financial compensation.
“We’ve failed them, and I know we can’t bring Sarge back, but we want to able to try and support in any way we can,” Swann said.
But Sarge’s family said, “this is not about money for us,” and they will speak to the council after they’ve taken time to grieve.
The animal control officer responsible is “deeply remorseful,” and has since resigned from their position.
“To the whānau who has lost their beloved pet, words will never be enough to express how deeply sorry I am for your pain. A pet is more than just an animal; it’s a family member, a companion, and a source of endless joy. I can’t begin to imagine the void and grief you must be experiencing. Please accept my sincere and unreserved apology,” the animal control officer said in a statement.
“I’m conscious that there is going to be a lot of anger out there, and particularly towards our team that you know by and large do the right thing,” Swann said.
Sarge was euthanised by a shot to the head, using a captive bolt gun – a method both the SPCA and SAFE oppose.
“What we want to see is change across the country, because other councils are using this method as well, and it’s really not acceptable,” SAFE’s Chief Executive Debra Ashton said.
“The method adopted must minimise fear and distress for the animal and must result in rapid loss of consciousness followed by death – using best practice with a veterinarian via lethal injection, where possible,” SPCA General Manager, Animal Services, Dr Corey Regnerus-Kell said.
A spokesperson from the Ministry for Primary Industries confirmed they will be discussing the use of a captive bolt with the Gisborne District Council.