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Dog lovers question Springfield shelter's decision to euthanize Rottweiler

A sign for Thomas J. O'Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center.
Elizabeth Román
A sign for Thomas J. O'Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center.

An animal shelter in Springfield, Massachusetts, is being questioned by local pet advocates who said they euthanized a dog who could have been given to a different organization.

In December, the Thomas J. O'Connor Animal Control & Adoption Center said a young Rottweiler was too aggressive to be adopted. That's according to two local dog lovers who said they located a rescue organization in New York State willing to take the dog and work with it.

They said they notified the shelter repeatedly but heard nothing until several days later, when they were told the dog was dead.

Kristina Ruhland, who lives in Agawam, said she contacted the director of the facility, Lori Swanson, who told her the dog had viciously attacked her during a behavioral assessment.

Ruhland filed a Freedom of Information Act request and got a video of the assessment.

"There's no attack in the video," she said. "That's a puppy who has no manners. I'm not saying that this dog should have been adopted out to the first person walking into the facility. But euthanasia seems like quite an impaired judgment call," she said.

Swanson and Helen Caulton-Harris, the city's commissioner of health and human services, who oversees the facility, both declined comment. In an e-mail to Ruhland, Caulton-Harris said she has sent the video to an independent behavioral canine expert for evaluation.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.