This story is hitting home for a lot of people. The movement to save Shayla came to an end Tuesday, but justice for Shayla is just getting started.
By now, posts have made the rounds on social media. A cute little puppy named Shayla, shown in video and pictures posted to a newly created Facebook group, 'Saving Shayla,' accompanying posts detailing abuse, overreaction, incorrect identification, and unnecessary euthanasia.
NBC Charlotte has received dozens of phone calls, emails, and social media messages asking to look into the story of Shayla, begging for justice. So we did. We spoke over the phone with Anson County Manager, Megan Garner, as well as the owner of a local animal rescue organization, Gretchen McCollum.
On Wednesday, NBC Charlotte's Xavier Walton followed up in an interview with Anson County Board of Commissioners attorney, Scott Forbes. Here is what these all of interviews are telling us.
Anson County officials recently received a call from a neighbor to the dog's residence claiming that a canine mother and four puppies were a nuisance to their property. The county officials asked the owner of the animals to surrender the dogs.
It was discovered that the mother dog was positive for heartworms, and that all of the puppies had not been properly vaccinated, meaning the dogs had to be surrendered to the Anson County Animal Shelter.
The owner then signed a release form to give them the dogs. The dogs were surrendered to animal control, then given to McCollum for foster care within her rescue organization.
In the process of handing the dogs over to McCollum, Anson County Animal Control says one of their employees was bitten by Shayla. The dogs were still delivered to McCollum, however, after the employee was treated, the dogs were required to return to Anson County Animal Control.
Gretchen says the attack was provoked.
"I saw how all of these puppies were handled," said McCollum.
Below is video from YouTube of McCollum surrendering the puppies back to Anson County Animal Control. With Shayla, a four-month-old puppy, in her arms, it was a long walk down McCollum's gravel driveway. That's the last time she saw her.
Many social media posts have purported that mishandling of the dog was the reason for the bite. However, Anson County attorney Scott Forbes told NBC Charlotte that the employee, referred only by his first name, Greg, "has years of experience of handling dogs."
According to the Anson County Animal Shelter and County officials, the bite broke the worker's skin and caused bleeding. Forbes said the skin on his finger, "had to be glued back together."
Updating a previous version of this story: The shelter employee did go to an emergency room for treatment to his injury. He was placed under a rabies protocol after learning that the dog was not properly vaccinated. According to Forbes, the employee received tetanus shots and rabies shots.
Another claim made in social media posts that has been shared thousands of times is that the dog was misidentified after the bite. Garner confirmed to NBC Charlotte that the employee positively and correctly identified the puppy named Shayla as the one that bit the employee.
Attorney Scott Forbes told Xavier Walton that Gretchen McCollum attempted to give the deputies and Animal Control employees the wrong dog. Eventually the correct dog was identified and taken. That, Forbes says, is, "Where the confusion came in about which dog bit him."
Per standard protocols for potential rabies bites, the employee had already been administered two shots and will be tested for rabies.
Another state procedure for rabies bites is to test and confirm whether or not the dog had the disease, by testing a sample of the dog's brain tissue. The only way to do this according to county officials is to put the dog down.
The Anson County Animal Shelter consulted with the state on the procedures for the unvaccinated dog, and confirmed to NBC Charlotte that there is an up-to 10-day quarantine period for the shelter to euthanize the dog for testing.
Forbes told NBC Charlotte Wednesday that the rabies test results on Shayla are in.
The results were negative.
The policy in question does not require the shelter wait the full 10 days. After consultation with the state on the unknown nature of the puppy's condition, since it was not properly vaccinated, the shelter decided to start the testing process for rabies and euthanized Shayla early Tuesday afternoon.
McCollum could barely handle the news.
"I was just heartbroken," she continued. "Devastated that an innocent puppy lost her life."
Megan Garner reiterated by phone that the number one job of the shelter is to protect the public and that in no way could an unvaccinated dog be put up for adoption or rescued.
The Greater Charlotte SPCA also posted on their Facebook page Tuesday, claiming many of the same things that the 'Saving Shayla' Facebook group mentions in it's posts. At this time, there is still little verification on many of the claims made in the post.
The 'Saving Shayla' Facebook group also mentions a woman named Maureen Lett being the usual animal shelter director in Anson County, but is out on medical leave. NBC Charlotte has yet to confirm the statement. It reads:
"For the record" All of this is ocurring while the shelter director, Maureen Lett, is out on medical leave recovering from uterine cancer surgery. Maureen has done an incredible job to turn the shelter around in one year. Regaining the trust of the community, regaining the trust of volunteers, establishing rescue contacts, and most of all getting the conditions and protocols up to commendable and compliant standards with the state. All of this is happening without any input or consultation with her since she is out on medical leave. It is a shame.
When NBC Charlotte asked Forbes and Anson County Animal Control to see why they chose Tuesday to start the rabies testing, no direct answer was given.
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